in the Court of Appeals 7 June 2017.
by defendants from order entered 1 November 2016 by Judge
Donald W. Stephens in Wake County, No. 12 CVS 2414 Superior
E. Crump, III, for plaintiff-appellee.
Attorney General Joshua H. Stein, by Assistant Attorney
General Thomas M. Woodward and Special Deputy Attorney
General Amar Majmundar, for defendants-appellants.
State Treasurer, State Controller, and various other
officials appeal from the trial court's order and writ of
mandamus commanding them to pay money from the State treasury
to satisfy a court judgment against the State.
were any other case, we would summarily reverse. Under the
Separation of Powers Clause in our State constitution, no
court has the power to order the legislature to appropriate
funds or to order the executive branch to pay out money that
has not been appropriated.
this case is more complicated because it, too, arises under
our State constitution. The Richmond County Board of
Education brought a claim against the State alleging that
fees collected for certain criminal offenses, and used to
fund county jail programs, should have been given to the
schools instead. The school board relied on Article IX,
Section 7 of our State constitution, which provides that
"all fines collected in the several counties for any
breach of the penal laws of the State, shall belong to and
remain in the several counties, and shall be faithfully
appropriated and used exclusively for maintaining free public
series of appeals to this Court, the school board ultimately
prevailed on its constitutional claim. This Court ordered
that all fees collected and sent to the jail program must be
"paid back" to the clerks of superior court in the
respective counties, to then be sent to the county schools.
Richmond Cty. Bd. of Educ. v. Cowell, __ N.C.App.
__, __, 776 S.E.2d 244, 249 (2015).
never happened-apparently because the Richmond County Board
of Education never secured an injunction to stop the program
while this case made its way through the courts, and now the
money has been spent. Moreover, the General Assembly, to
date, has not appropriated any new money to pay the Richmond
County schools (or any other county schools) what they are
time passed and the Richmond County schools never got paid,
the school board returned to the trial court and secured the
order and writ of mandamus on appeal here, which commands
various state officials to immediately pay the judgment out
of the State treasury or risk being thrown in jail.
explained below, we reverse the trial court's order.
Under long-standing precedent from our Supreme Court, the
judicial branch cannot order the State to pay new money from
the treasury to satisfy this judgment. To be sure, if the
school board had sought and obtained an injunction to stop
the county jail program from using the money, courts might
have the power to order the existing money returned. But that
is not what happened here. The fees collected through the
program are gone-spent to assist the counties in funding
their local jails.
course, this does not mean the Richmond County schools cannot
get their money. As our Supreme Court explained in a similar
case, having entered a money judgment against the State, the
judiciary has "performed its function to the limit of
its constitutional powers." Smith v. State, 289
N.C. 303, 321, 222 S.E.2d 412, 424 (1976). From here,
satisfaction of that money judgment "will depend upon
the manner in which the General Assembly discharges its
constitutional duties." Id.