Lewis criticizes McCrory decision naming Martin NC Chief Justice - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Lewis criticizes McCrory decision elevating Martin to NC Chief Justice

Judge Ola Lewis (left) is criticizing Gov. Pat McCrory's decision to appoint Justice Mark Martin (right) as the new Chief Justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court Judge Ola Lewis (left) is criticizing Gov. Pat McCrory's decision to appoint Justice Mark Martin (right) as the new Chief Justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court
RALEIGH, NC (WECT/AP) -

Governor Pat McCrory is appointing Senior Associate Justice Mark Martin as the new Chief Justice of North Carolina's Supreme Court. Judge Martin will replace the current Chief Justice, Sarah Parker, who is leaving the position at the end of August.

"I am excited to begin working with all other justice system stakeholders on behalf of the people of our great State to implement this plan to strengthen our courts," said Judge Martin, during a ceremony Monday in the State Capitol.

"Justice Martin has served as the Senior Associate Justice since 2006, and our Court is better for it," Governor McCrory said at the ceremony. "The humility and integrity of his character has benefited our state, and his knowledge and depth of experience is inimitable. I look forward to his work as Chief Justice as he draws upon his more than 20 years of judicial experience."

Justice Martin has served on the state Supreme Court since 1999, and as Senior Associate Justice of the high court since 2006. He also served on the NC Court of Appeals and as a Superior Court Judge.

The move drew criticism from Judge Ola Lewis, the Senior Resident Superior Court Judge in Brunswick County, who is running against Justice Martin for the Chief Justice seat in November.

"The people of North Carolina deserve a fair opportunity to exercise their constitutional right to elect their Chief Justice," Judge Lewis said when contacted about Gov. McCrory's decision to elevate Justice Martin to Chief Justice.

"Our current Supreme Court, with Martin second in command, is ranked one of the lowest in the nation by way of performance, according to a Duke (University) Law Study. The appointment was done without regard for what is best for our state judiciary. I am going to stay the course and look forward to serving this great state as the new Chief Justice of the NC Supreme court," she said.

Retired Chief Justice Burley Mitchell praised McCrory for sticking to the tradition of selecting the justice with the greatest experience for chief justice when there's a vacancy. Mitchell says that stops justices from jockeying for the job.

Copyright 2014 WECT. All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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