Judge Donald W. Stephens is retiring from the Wake County bench after a long and distinguished career.
"Judge Stephens has served with integrity, with excellence, and with an unwavering commitment to the rule of law and justice," said Chief Justice Mark Martin.
Judge Stephens, who officially retires from the superior court bench, effective November 1, 2017, has been a public servant his entire career. Following his graduation from law school (UNC '70), Judge Stephens served with distinction as a captain in the U.S. Marine Corps. He then joined the Durham County District Attorney's Office and, after three years, became a special prosecutor for the N.C. Attorney General. In 1984, Judge Stephens was appointed a special superior court judge and was elected a resident superior court judge in 1986. In 2001, Judge Stephens became the senior resident superior court judge for the 10th Judicial District. Upon retirement, he will be the longest-serving resident superior court judge in Wake County. During his tenure, Judge Stephens presided over some of the most difficult and sensitive trials in Wake County's recent history.
Aside from his normal duties, Judge Stephens played a critical role in planning and moving into the new Wake County Justice Center upon its completion in 2013. Judge Stephens expressed a strong desire to make the transition from the existing courthouse into the new building without having to shut down court. Thanks to his efforts, court recessed on the day of the move after the morning session, moved across the street during lunch, and reconvened in the new Justice Center that afternoon.