We may have gotten ahead of ourselves in our excitement to see an effort to modernize (and enhance??) North Carolina's Business Court. Our first clue was that a Senate Bill (SB 853) was filed with no companion bill in the House -- not a great sign. Another clue is that the bill was not the result of interim study committee vetting. In fact, we were not the only ones surprised to see the bill filed. We've heard members of the House were also surprised. Uh oh. And I have not been able to confirm the involvement of any outside group in the drafting of the bill aside from the NC Chamber -- although the NC Chamber is having a pretty good run this session. Again.
So today we looked through the Senate's $21 Billion Budget for clues (looking for some Business Court "enhancement" opportunity). What we found was a new take on last year's Senate attempt to abolish Special Superior Court Judges. The Senate's budget bill eliminates 4 Special Superior Court Judgeships by phasing them out between now and 2016 upon resignation, retirement, or end of term for that Judge. No mention of shifting those resources or expanding the Business Court.
If you are looking to modernize and enhance the NC Business Court you have work to do. And for now you need to do that work with the NC Chamber. We'll be checking in with NC Chamber lobbyist John Goodman to see what they think will happen with the bill this session.
A long ago Speaker's Staffer (not me) once said, "The opposing party is our adversary. The opposing Chamber is our enemy." This House and this Senate, though both run with strong Republican majorities, are not in sync on all issues. Sometimes the first to blink loses; it's not clear to me the House is even looking.
Mack Sperling at Brooks Pierce wrote a great summary of the bill from a litigator's perspective, to which I respectfully defer here: http://www.ncbusinesslitigationreport.com/2014/05/articles/watching-the-court/general-assembly-may-modernize-the-nc-business-court/index.html