- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 5, 2017

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - A state House effort to reduce the number of North Carolina Court of Appeals judges from 15 to 12 has now cleared a Senate hurdle.

A divided Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday approved the Republican measure to phase out the three judgeships as vacancies arise through mandatory judiciary retirements or resignations.

The proposal also would allow more matters be appealed directly to the state Supreme Court. Sponsor Rep. Sarah Stevens of Mount Airy says the seven-member Supreme Court has time to handle more cases and should help a smaller Court of Appeals keep pace with remaining work.

Democratic Sen. Angela Bryant of Rocky Mount says she’s worried the proposal is based on politics. Otherwise, Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper would fill the vacancies. The bill goes next to another Senate committee.

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