On Wednesday, the General Assembly overrode the Governor ‘s veto of House Bill 239. Against opposition from the bench and the bar, the legislature pushed the court-shrinking bill through on a mostly party-line vote. The override votes came on the heels of a remarkable move by retiring Judge Douglas McCullough–a registered Republican–who reportedly retired a month early to avoid having his seat eliminated by the bill.
Moving beyond the political turmoil surrounding the bill, let’ s summarize what the bill means for our appellate courts:
1. Court of Appeals Will Get Smaller–But When?
The Court of Appeals will lose three seats, shrinking to 12 jurists. There is no strict timeline for the downsizing. A seat will be abolished only when a sitting judge dies, resigns, retires, or is impeached under the constitution or otherwise removed by the Supreme