Cheri Beasley was formally invested as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of North Carolina at a swearing-in ceremony this afternoon, March 7, at the Supreme Court in Raleigh. In addition to holding the highest judicial office in North Carolina, Chief Justice Beasley will lead the state's judicial branch of government.
Chief Justice Beasley is the 29th Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of North Carolina. She was appointed by Governor Roy Cooper to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of Chief Justice Mark Martin, who had served in that role for four years. Chief Justice Beasley is the first African-American woman to serve as chief justice in the state's history and only the fourth in the country’s history to serve as chief justice of any state’s highest court.
“I am honored and humbled to receive Governor Cooper’s appointment as Chief Justice. The magnitude of this opportunity to serve all North Carolinians is certainly not lost on me,” said Chief Justice Beasley. “I look forward to continuing to work to improve access to the courts and to ensure that our citizens have a judiciary that they trust to administer justice fairly, equally, and swiftly.”
As part of her investiture remarks, Chief Justice Beasley spoke about her commitment to complete the eCourts initiative begun by her predecessor, fully implement the Raise the Age reforms enacted recently by the legislature, and improve the accessibility of the courts for all North Carolinians.
Senior Associate Justice Paul Newby presided over the special court session and administered the oath to Chief Justice Beasley. Governor Roy Cooper also delivered special remarks, as did special guests Walter Holton, Catharine Biggs Arrowood, and Jocelyn Mitnaul Mallette. More than 1,000 guests attended the event, filling the Supreme Court courtroom and overflow areas in the State Capitol Building and the Historic First Baptist Church on South Wilmington Street.
Justice Beasley has served on the Supreme Court since 2012, having been appointed to that position by Governor Beverly Perdue and subsequently winning statewide election to the office in 2014. She was previously an associate judge on the North Carolina Court of Appeals. When she won election to the Court of Appeals in 2008, she became the first African-American woman in state history to win a statewide election without having first been appointed to the position. Prior to serving on the Court of Appeals, Chief Justice Beasley was a district court judge in the Twelfth Judicial District, Cumberland County, having been appointed to that position by Governor Jim Hunt in 1999. She is the only Chief Justice in North Carolina’s history to have experience as a district court judge.
Committed to supporting the legal profession, Justice Beasley serves in numerous bar organizations and a host of other professional and civic organizations. She is a frequent mentor to young adults and enjoys volunteering her time to read with elementary school students in area schools. Beasley is a graduate of Douglass College at Rutgers University, received her J.D. from the University of Tennessee College of Law, and her Masters of Laws (L.L.M.) in judicial studies from Duke University School of Law.
The Supreme Court of North Carolina is the state’s highest court, and there is no further appeal from its decisions on matters of state law. It is made up of the Chief Justice, who also serves as head of the Judicial Branch, and six associate justices. Each justice serves an eight-year term. The Supreme Court has no jury and makes no determinations of fact, but it considers whether error occurred at trial or in judicial interpretation of the law.