Thursday, December 7, 2023

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Commissioners lean on state to fund public defender, fifth district court judge

Alamance County’s elected leaders have found it increasingly hard to watch from the sidelines as state officials in Raleigh dictate crucial staffing decisions for the local court system.

During their latest regularly-scheduled meeting on Monday, the county’s board of commissioners determined that it may be prudent to give the state’s leaders a bit of a nudge with respect to the proposed appointments of a public defender and a fifth district court judge for Alamance County.

The board reached this consensus after commissioner Craig Turner noted that neither of these two positions appear the draft budget released by the leadership of North Carolina’s state house. Turner added that the county may want to lobby the state senate to make sure that each of these posts is included in the state’s final budget.

“We’re number one in the state in terms of the workload of the four existing district court judges,” he went on to remind his fellow commissioners. “I think we have an opportunity, if the board is inclined to support either of those two measures, to maybe influence how the senate might treat a request.”

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Turner proposed that the commissioners approve a resolution promising to provide office space for these two officials if the General Assembly agrees to cover their salaries.

“I know that this board has not made a decision about courthouse expansion,” he continued. “But I don’t think that saying we would support facilities for those two additional [officials] implies that we would have to have an expanded courthouse.”

Turner’s suggestion ultimately struck John Paisley, Jr., the chairman of Alamance County’s commissioners, as a worthy endeavor for the county’s governing board.

“I think a resolution is the least we can do to let the state know we’re serious about it,” Paisley declared before he and his colleagues agreed to add the proposed resolution to their next meeting agenda.

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