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NC Court of Appeals to reveal more about how judges ruled

File photo of a gavel in a courtroom.
SalFalko via Flickr

North Carolina’s intermediate-level appeals court will now make public more details about how its three-judge panels settled certain questions brought before them.

On Monday, the state Court of Appeals will begin revealing online whether rulings on petitions filed with the court are unanimous or 2-1 votes. That will happen the day when a petition order becomes public.

Petitions seek legal relief, such as blocking a trial court's judgment while it's appealed or compelling a trial court to act.

Ninety days after each such petition decision is announced, the court also will reveal which of the 15 judges served on the panel seated at that time to hear the petition, and how each of them voted.

Historically, the names haven’t been disclosed so as to discourage legal parties from “judge shopping,” according to a court news release. The 90-day delay will allow the seated panel to remain anonymous, while providing transparency, the appeals court said.

Initially, the identities and votes of judges on the petition panels between March 10 and May 3 will be revealed.

Petitions are different from written opinions originating from Court of Appeals panels — their authors already are identified, as are the judge or judges who concur with the prevailing opinion.

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