Leadership changes coming to Mecklenburg courts

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - It's not often someone stays on the job in Charlotte or anywhere for 25 years. That's part of what made Todd Nuccio an integral part of the Mecklenburg County Courthouse. He's been there a quarter of a century.

Now his office is cleared out. Nuccio's last day as Trial Court Administrator was Friday.

"I have mixed emotions," said Nuccio, as he explained how hard it would be to leave the people he has worked with for so many years.

He's also excited about taking a position as the State Court Administrator in Iowa, where he began his career.

In a judicial system where the phrase "revolving door" often trails the headline, Nuccio was a constant, steady presence in local and state legal circles. He's not a fan of the "revolving door" either and worked behind the scenes to build programs, like Drug Treatment Courts, to break the cycle.

"The word 'trial court administrator' is probably meaningless to a lot of people," said Nuccio.

He can laugh at how his title sounds. Not much fun. Lots of paperwork.

Yet, he smiled when asked about why he enjoyed the job so much.

"My favorite part of the job is that every day is different," he said.

Every day and every year came with proud moments like building a new courthouse which opened in 2007. It was a ten-year project and built with the future in mind. It has unfinished space to accommodate more courtrooms and staff as the 26th Judicial District grows.

There have also been budget challenges. During lean years, Nuccio had to push for continued state funding of special courts focused on families, drug addicts and the mentally ill. When state dollars dried up, he challenged Mecklenburg County leaders to step in by arguing the investment would eventually save money by curbing crime and helping families.

"We probably get around 7 percent of the overall budget, even though we have 10 percent of the population and 10 percent of the filings," said Nuccio, who can rattle off budget details easily from memory.

He and his staff oversee and schedule nearly 200,000 criminal court filings every year ranging in charges from murders to DWI. Annually, there are nearly 40,000 civil filings like lawsuits, adoptions and restraining orders. Even the release of police body-cam video comes through court.

It's a lot to manage.

Chief District Court Judge Regan Miller has worked on the bench nearly two decades with Nuccio as TCA.

"His attention to detail. His desire for structure. His emphasis on making the process accessible to all members of our community," said Judge Miller, listing some of Nuccio's contributions.

The departure comes as Mecklenburg District Attorney Andrew Murray likely gets confirmed as the next U.S. Attorney for Western District of North Carolina. Judge Miller, who also knows Murray well, said the DA's Office has been fair and consistent under his management.

Stability matters. Murray and Nuccio have each lead a piece of the judicial system which is often full of emotion for people who find themselves walking through the door. Crime victims, the accused, and families in hardship face judge or jury daily.

Nuccio says there's more emphasis now on community and transparency in making sure all people are treated fairly.

He offers advice to his successor.

"Relationship building is important," he said. "Much of what we were able to accomplish was by building partnerships."

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