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NC Chief Justice Could Lose Half Her Staff Under Proposed Senate Budget

North Carolina Chief Justice Cheri Beasley.

State Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley would lose half of her staff under a proposed budget cut by the North Carolina Senate. The Republican budget seeks to eliminate three of the six staff positions for Beasley, a Democrat, who was elevated to chief justice in March.

"With these cuts to our staff, the chief justice would be the only appellate judge in the state with a single law clerk," said Beasley's Chief of Staff Anna Stearns. "It would severely limit the work she can do to modernize our courts and bring about desperately needed reforms."

According to Stearns all of the positions are currently filled, and the reductions would make the staff of the chief justice the smallest it has been in at least a decade.

This Senate budget would eliminate an administrative council position, a law clerk, and one staff attorney. Beasley, who has been working to fill out her staff, is just getting to know two of those three employees. One staffer began last week, and another started on Wednesday.

A spokesman for Republican leader Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) said lawmakers working on the budget believed that the positions were still vacant, and explained another position was eliminated because lawmakers did not feel it was necessary for the court to function or fulfill its core purpose.

After senators approve their spending plan later this week, lawmakers from both chambers will work on a budget compromise. House legislators did not propose cuts to the chief justice’s staff in its budget, which was approved earlier in May.

Jeff Tiberii is the co-host of WUNC's "Due South." Jeff joined WUNC in 2011. During his 20 years in public radio, he was Morning Edition Host at WFDD and WUNC’s Greensboro Bureau Chief and later, the Capitol Bureau Chief. Jeff has covered state and federal politics, produced the radio documentary “Right Turn,” launched a podcast, and was named North Carolina Radio Reporter of the Year four times.
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