Push to revoke taxpayer-funded pensions from bad behavior judges

Madeline Gray—North State Journal
FILE PHOTO:Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger gavels in the session on Thursday

RALEIGH — The North Carolina Senate took steps on Tuesday to further prevent judges convicted of a felony from collecting taxpayer-funded pensions.Senate Bill 117 would forfeit retirement
benefits, except for a return of individual contributions plus interest, for judges impeached, convicted, or removed from office by
the state Supreme Court for misconduct in office, persistent failure to perform
duties, habitual intemperance, conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude,
or conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice. The General Assembly has previously enacted laws pertaining to
pension benefit forfeiture; however, amendments added in 2007 and 2012 applied only to conduct that was directly related to the member’s office, employment, or campaign.The move to strengthen the laws is in response to the recent conviction of former N.C. Superior Court Judge Arnold Ogden Jones II, a Wayne County Democrat who pleaded guilty in March to bribing a federal agent. Jones was accused of offering an FBI agent two cases of Bud Light and $100 in exchange for text messages between his wife and a man with whom he suspected she was having an extramarital affair. Senate Leader Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) called the case against Jones “a low point in the state of our judiciary,” in a statement on Tuesday. “Our judges must hold the highest ethical standards, and we cannot allow corrupt judges to draw a taxpayer-funded pension after being removed from office for bad behavior.”Read more here: http://www.newsobserver.com/news/local/crime/article138884703.html#storylink=cpyAfter a unanimous vote on Tuesday, Senate Bill 117 will head to the N.C. House for approval.