Byte of Prevention Blog

by Jay Reeves |

NC Supreme Court Issues Order on Recusal Motions

The Supreme Court of North Carolina has issued an administrative order regarding motions for the disqualification or recusal of supreme court justices.

According to the order, the Supreme Court shall assign the motion to the justice who is the subject of the motion for their determination.

“With regard to any motion filed with the Court under Rule 37 of the North Carolina Rules of Appellate Procedure seeking the recusal or disqualification of a Justice from participation in the deliberation and decision in a matter pending before the Court, the Court shall assign the motion to the Justice who is the subject of the motion for their determination. That determinations will be final,” the order says.

“As an alternative, any Justice who is the subject of a recusal or disqualification motion filed with the Court may decline to decide the motion on their own and exercise their discretion to refer the motion to the full Court for disposition without their participation.”

Lawyers Mutual has issued a Risk Management Alert on the order.

Read the administrative order here.

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NC Rule of Professional Conduct 8.2: Judicial and Legal Officials

(a) A lawyer shall not make a statement that the lawyer knows to be false or with reckless disregard as to its truth or falsity concerning the qualifications or integrity of a judge, or other adjudicatory officer or of a candidate for election or appointment to judicial office.

(b) A lawyer who is a candidate for judicial office shall comply with the applicable provisions of the Code of Judicial Conduct.

Comment [1] Assessments by lawyers are relied on in evaluating the professional or personal fitness of persons being considered for election or appointment to judicial office. Expressing honest and candid opinions on such matters contributes to improving the administration of justice. Conversely, false statements by a lawyer can unfairly undermine public confidence in the administration of justice.

Comment [2] When a lawyer seeks judicial office, the lawyer should be bound by applicable limitations on political activity.

Comment [3] To maintain the fair and independent administration of justice, lawyers are encouraged to continue traditional efforts to defend judges and courts unjustly criticized. Adjudicatory officials, not being wholly free to defend themselves, are entitled to receive the support of the bar against such unjust criticism.

Comment [4] While a lawyer as a citizen has a right to criticize such officials publicly, the lawyer should be certain of the merit of the complaint, use appropriate language, and avoid petty criticisms, for unrestrained and intemperate statements tend to lessen public confidence in our legal system. Criticisms motivated by reasons other than a desire to improve the legal system are not justified.

Sources: Supreme Court of North Carolina Issues an Administrative Order Regarding Recusal Motions | North Carolina Judicial Branch ( and NC Rule of Professional Conduct 8.2


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About the Author

Jay Reeves

Jay Reeves practiced law in North Carolina and South Carolina. He was Legal Editor at Lawyers Weekly and Risk Manager at Lawyers Mutual. He is the author of The Most Powerful Attorney in the World, a collection of short stories from a law life well-lived, which as the seasons pass becomes less about law and liability and more about loss, love, longing, laughter and life's lasting luminescence.

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