Democratic Judge John Arrowood is somewhat famous in our household because of the way he was appointed to the bench by Governor Roy Cooper.
|Photo: News and Observer|
When Governor Cooper was sworn into office in December of 2016, the Republicans in the General Assembly were facing an unappetizing prospect. Three judges on the Court of Appeals -- two of which were Republicans -- were going to be forced into mandatory retirement during Governor Cooper's term, meaning he would get to appoint their replacements.
The troops under Phil Berger and Tim Moore got busy and came up with a new law reducing the Court of Appeals from 15 to 12 seats, meaning that those mandatory retirements would not be replaced at all. Governor Cooper vetoed that bill in April and immediately Republican Judge Doug McCullough, one of the three facing mandatory retirement, retired early to allow Cooper to appoint his replacement before the General Assembly could override his veto. Boom! Cooper appointed John Arrowood of Charlotte to the bench.
(You can read the background here, especially the revelation that the NCGOP pressured McCullough to resign early while Pat McCrory was still governor, which pissed McCullough off enough for him to bollix up their scheme. Since then, naturally, the Berger/Moore machine has put a constitutional amendment on the ballot to give themselves appointment powers over all the judiciary.)
John Arrowood had served on the Court of Appeals before. He was appointed to a vacancy by Governor Mike Easley in 2007 but lost election in 2008. He ran again in 2014 in a very crowded field of 19 candidates and came in second.
Arrowood has more than a quarter-century of legal experience behind him as a lawyer in private practice aside from his two stints on the Court of Appeals. He graduated from the UNC law school at Chapel Hill, clerked for NC Court of Appeals Judge Gerald Arnold, and also served as a staff attorney and head of the Court’s central staff. He is vastly more experienced than his Republican opponent.
Arrowood is clear that the greatest current threat to a fair judiciary is the Berger/Moore General Assembly: "Article IV of the North Carolina Constitution establishes the General Courts of Justice as an independent co-ordinate branch of government and protects its power and jurisdiction from usurpation by other branches of government .... it is critical that our system be allowed to work independently without intimidation or the threat of interference by other branches of government."
Amen to that.
Republican Andrew Heath was appointed to a special Superior Court judgeship by Governor Pat McCrory between his failure to win reelection in November of 2016 and his actual leaving office in December of that year. Heath had been McCrory's budget director, and McCrory needed to give him a landing pad after that defeat.