#ncga: Reps. Pittman, Speciale urge NO vote in Nov. on state constitution amendment

legisTwo of the more reliable conservative legislators in the state House are urging voters in their districts — and those outside — to vote down the proposed amendment to the state constitution on the November ballot.  In May 2012, voters approved an amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman.  This year, a proposed amendment allows for the waiver of a jury trial — a right GUARANTEED in the US Constitution.

Rep. Michael Speciale (R-Craven) was the only Republican in the House to vote against the legislation placing the proposed amendment on the ballot. Rep. Larry Pittman (R-Cabarrus) voted to put the amendment on the ballot, but is now experiencing buyer’s remorse:

[…] Last year, all of us except Rep. Michael Speciale messed up on a bill
that was brought to the floor for a vote when some of us had never
seen it. It was heard in committee that morning and brought to us in
the afternoon session.
I really didn’t get a chance to study it for more than a few minutes.
Sometimes there are just so many bills in the

queue, especially the last few days of the session, that if you are
trying to study as many as you can as closely as you can, there will
be some you don’t get to study that closely before they go through
committee. So you listen to the debate and try to read the bill as it
is being debated, and make the best decision you can, based on the
debate presented.
On this one, there really was not much of a debate.

We were told by its House sponsors how great it was and how it would
enhance the rights of the accused in court proceedings. It was SB 399.
The whole Senate, and everyone in the House except Rep. Speciale,
voted for it. You will see it as a constitutional amendment on your
ballot in the election this November. I am asking you to correct our
mistake and vote NO on this proposed amendment. Thank goodness for Rep. Speciale for seeing through it and pointing
out to me how bad it actually is. I just wish he could have had the
chance before it was too late for the vote. I guess he didn’t speak
against it on the floor because he thought it was so bad it didn’t
have a chance to pass. Our District Attorney here in Cabarrus County
has also spoken out publicly against this very bad amendment. Please
vote against it.[…]

On the November ballot you will be asked to vote on a change to the North Carolina Constitution. The change is to allow individuals who appear in Superior Court, in cases where the State is NOT pursuing the death penalty, to waive their right to a trial by jury. With the approval of the Judge, they will go in front of a Judge only. The question on the ballot will be as follows:

Constitutional Amendment providing that a person accused of any criminal offense for which the State is not seeking a sentence of death in Superior Court may, in writing or on the record in court and with the consent of the trial Judge, waive the person’s right to a trial by jury.

To some, the proposed amendment seems benign. It seems like no big deal, until you look at the ramifications, the precedence being set, and the liberty safeguards being forfeited.mspec

Next to our 2nd Amendment right to keep and bear arms, whose inclusion into the Bill of Rights was intended to ensure that we the people had the ability to fight a tyrannical government, our 6th Amendment right to trial by jury is the next most important right that we have.

This right is another measure to ensure that we can overcome a tyrannical government because juries have the power to judge the law as well as the facts of a case.

What would be the purpose of this amendment? I can only reason that its purpose is intended to clear the backlog of cases. On whose backs will this come? The State would like to cut down on costs for providing legal defense to the indigent. Sadly, they will be the ones targeted because disposing of their cases by a Judge alone is generally quicker and cheaper than dragging out a Jury Trial.[…]

10 thoughts on “#ncga: Reps. Pittman, Speciale urge NO vote in Nov. on state constitution amendment

  1. This “Waiver of Jury Trial” Amendment is a big power grab by district attorneys and judges. Thankfully, We the People can simply say “NO!!”.

    The Trial by Jury is a fundamental institution secured to us in 1215 A.D. when King John signed and sealed the Magna Carta. We the People were guaranteed the right to exercise, as a Jury of the People, the Sword and the Shield. The Sword to punish the guilty, and the Shield to protect the innocent.

    This Waiver of Jury Trial Amendment is asking us (the People) to return the Sword to the Government. That is, to give our Jury Power to an agent/judge of the Government.

    Does anyone reading this article believe that to be a good idea, or a benefit for We the People? If you do, please state your reason(s), because I have yet to hear the first good one!

  2. There’s an easy solution to too many bills. VOTE NO! What idiots would vote for something that they haven’t read… no need to answer that, the legislatures are full of them. Would you execute a contract on just hearsay, testimony of the other parties, and a glance at the summary provisions without reading it in full and understanding what you are getting into. It appears that we have people in elected office who are willing to do just that. I am really disappointed in the legislators like Jeff Collins and Buck Newton who voted for this. It’s up to us a voters to kill this amendment that will set a dangerous precedent. Clear the backlogs… that a worthy goal but at what cost?

  3. Up until now I have been so proud of my NC republican elected officials since they were put into office in 2010 and 2012 and started making positive changes in North Carolina and Alamance County in particular. We have been enjoying job growth and economic development that has helped me sleep well at night after the great recession. All that has changed with this Constitutional Amendment looming over our rights to prosecute criminals. Lets hope the voters are educated enough about this bill to vote it down. Please help spread the word about this massive swarm of flies and lets work together to stop it in its tracks?

  4. Too little, too late. Maybe if ANY OTHER SINGLE MEMBER of the NCGA had voted against this measure last year besides Rep. Speciale we wouldn’t be faced with this choice in November. The vast majority of the electorate will walk into the voting booth without ever having considered the arguments for/against this measure, but will vote on it nonetheless. The only chance of this measure not passing will be voter apathy, i.e., voters giving up on the ballot due to its length before getting to the amendment at the end.

  5. All these legislators have all been bought and paid for.
    Goes to committee in the morning and brought to the floor for vote in the afternoon. They may be willing to vote away our rights, I am not. We all need to vote down this amendment.

  6. Remember Tillis’ control freak obsession in the legislature. No bill moves unless it has his green light. Tillis would have had to give his okay for this to roll.

    Mike Speciale is probably the only legislator who reads every bill. I am shocked that other conservatives did not join him on this one.

    We need to know what Republicans pushed this monstrosity. They need primaries.

    1. Sen. Pete Brunstetter was the primary sponsor. He retired to go work for Novant Hospital so good luck finding a primary opponent for him. And don’t try to make this a Tillis issue, every Speaker controls which bills come to the floor, not just Speaker Tillis.

      1. Tillis has a bigger obsession with it than most, but the key here is if they are going to do it, then when they approve something that stinks as bad as this does, their fingerprints are on it more than anyone else except the bill sponsor.

  7. Never, never, never vote or volunteer to give up ANY of your rights or freedoms — no matter how benign or reasonable they make the deal sound.

  8. As a personal friend and supporter of Michael Speciale, I can tell you he is the real deal. I have been working hard to assure his reelection even though I am not in his district and can’t vote for him.

    He has been on the forefront about his stupid amendment that can put another nail in the coffin of our liberty…fragile as it is. Thankfully some other folks like Larry Pittman are man enough to admit their mistakes and have joined his ranks.

    I suggest all poll workers make this a priority during the election…to all voters.

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