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After partisan split in Cooper v. Berger, state Supreme Court reverts to more normal pattern

A little over a month after splitting along party lines in the Cooper v. Berger case, the N.C. Supreme Court issued a batch of mostly unanimous rulings this morning.

The state’s high court handed down 18 opinions. Fifteen were unanimous 7-0 decisions, including nine “per curiam” opinions with no single author.

Two other cases featured 4-3 splits. In both instances, Democratic Justice Sam Ervin IV joined with the court’s three Republicans to make up a majority. The court’s other three Democrats dissented.

In Davis v. Hulsing Enters., Ervin joined an opinion from Justice Barbara Jackson. Justice Robin Hudson wrote the dissent. The majority in the case threw out a wrongful death lawsuit involving a woman who drank too much alcohol at a hotel restaurant.

In King v. Albemarle Hosp. Auth., Ervin joined an opinion from Justice Paul Newby. Justice Cheri Beasley wrote the dissent. The dispute involved the statute of limitations in medical negligence cases involving minors.

The only party-line split among the latest batch of rulings did not affect the outcome of State v. Chekanow. All seven justices reached the same result: reversing the N.C. Court of Appeals and reinstating a trial court judgment in a drug case.

But the Democratic and Republican justices diverged on whether ownership of property containing marijuana plants offered a sufficient basis to charge the defendants in the case. Republicans said yes. Democrats said no. Beasley wrote the majority opinion. Newby wrote a concurring opinion in that case.

Mitch Kokai / Senior Political Analyst

Mitch Kokai is senior political analyst for the John Locke Foundation. He joined JLF in December 2005 as director of communications. That followed more than four years as chie...

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