Chief Justice Cheri Beasley reconvened the North Carolina State Judicial Council on Thursday, December 5, at the North Carolina Judicial Center in Raleigh. She charged the Council with helping to set funding priorities, advise on matters concerning the operations of the courts, to set performance standards for the courts, and monitoring the administration of justice and effectiveness of the Judicial Branch in serving the public.
"This is such an exciting time, with tremendous potential for improving the way our courts serve the people of North Carolina," said Chief Justice Beasley. "I know the Council shares my vision for a court system that is fair and accessible and that resolves cases quickly and efficiently. I look forward to their proposals to move our courts from the most underfunded in the country to the most thoughtfully funded courts."
The Council is chaired by Associate Justice Robin Hudson of the Supreme Court of North Carolina. Its membership consists of representatives from every component of the court system, members of the bar, and the public. Members include
- Justice Robin Hudson, chair, Supreme Court
Justice Robin Hudson has served on the Supreme Court of North Carolina since January 2007. Prior to that, she served on the North Carolina Court of Appeals from January 2001 through December 2006. During that time, she helped organize and coordinate the Court of Appeals voluntary mediation program. She is the first North Carolina woman elected to the appellate court division without having been appointed first. Except for three years as assistant appellant defender in the mid 1980s, Justice Hudson practiced law in the private sector and handled a variety of trials and appeals, but concentrated on workers' compensation and tort litigation, with particular emphasis on occupational disease and products liability, as well as criminal law. She practiced extensively before the Industrial Commission, as well as in all levels of State and Federal courts. From 1994 until she began serving on the Court of Appeals, she was certified to mediate cases from Superior Court and the Industrial Commission.
- Linda McGee, chief judge, Court of Appeals
Chief Judge Linda McGee has served as a judge on the North Carolina Court of Appeals for the past 24 years, and she was named chief judge in August 2014. She is the longest-serving woman judge in the court’s history and the second woman to serve as chief judge. She has served as chair of the Celebrate NC Courts Committee for almost five years and has been actively involved in the North Carolina Bar Association, the North Carolina Equal Access to Justice Commission, the Chief Justice’s Commission on Professionalism, the North Carolina Board of Law Examiners, IOLTA Board, Legal Services of North Carolina Board, and North Carolina State Bar CLE Board. Judge McGee was honored to receive the Liberty Bell Award from the Young Lawyers Division of the North Carolina Bar Association; the North Carolina. Bar Association Pro Bono Service Award; Judge of the Year Award and the Gwyneth B. Davis Service Award from the North Carolina Association of Women Attorneys; Outstanding Appellate Judge Award from the North Carolina Advocates for Justice; Everett Professionalism Award from Campbell Law School; and ABOTA Lifetime Achievement Award.
- Valerie Asbell, district attorney, District 7; Bertie, Halifax, Hertford, and Northampton counties
Valerie M. Asbell is the elected district attorney for Prosecutorial District 7, which is comprised of Bertie, Halifax, Hertford, and Northampton counties and has prosecuted for the past 26 ½ years in Bertie, Hertford, and Northampton counties. She has been the elected district attorney for more than 19 years. She was an assistant district attorney for seven years before becoming the elected district attorney. She was the first woman district attorney in Eastern North Carolina.
- Stuart Castelloe, chief magistrate, Randolph County
John Stuart Castelloe Jr. is the chief magistrate of Randolph County (Judicial District 19B) and is currently serving his second term as vice president of the North Carolina Magistrates Association. He has been a Randolph County magistrate since 2003 and has 25 years of public service to the citizens of North Carolina.
- Whitney Fairbanks, assistant director, North Carolina Indigent Defense Services
- Jennifer Harjo, public defender, New Hanover County
Jennifer Harjo graduated from the University of Tulsa College of Law in 1988. During her career, she has worked as an assistant district attorney in Boston, Massachusetts, and as a partner at the firm of Smith, Smith & Harjo, located in Wilmington. In 2008, Jennifer was tasked with opening the New Hanover County Public Defender Office, where she continues to serve as Chief Public Defender.
- Clerk Marsha Johnson, clerk of superior court, District 11A, Harnett County
Marsha Johnson is the Harnett County clerk of superior court and the 2019-20 president of the North Carolina Association of Clerks of Superior Court. She represents all 100 elected clerks of court on the State Judicial Council. Clerk Johnson has been the elected clerk in Harnett County since 2011. Prior to that, she was a deputy clerk and assistant clerk in the office since 2000 with a vast amount of knowledge and experience from working at a private law firm. Clerk Johnson has been active in the Clerks Association and has served on numerous technology case management committees and the Estates and Special Proceedings Forms Committee. She currently serves on the North Carolina Governor’s Crime Commission as well.
- Judge Robert Rader, chief district court judge, District 10, Wake County
Robert Rader is the chief district court judge for the 10th Judicial District (Wake). He has served as a district court judge for more than 25 years and as chief district court judge for the past 12 years. Judge Rader has served in numerous leadership positions within the profession including president of the North Carolina Association of District Court Judges, president of the Wake County Bar Association and vice president of the North Carolina Bar Association. He has long been active in the community serving on numerous boards and commissions and was named Tar Heel of the Week in 2006 for spearheading efforts to save an eighteenth century grist mill and develop Historic Yates Mill County Park.
- Judge Wayland Sermons, senior resident superior court judge, District 2
Wayland Sermons is the senior resident superior court judge of District 2 and has served in that position since 2009. He is the current president of the North Carolina Conference of Superior Court Judges. Prior to his service on the bench, he worked in private practice in Washington and eastern North Carolina for 29 years, concentrating on criminal and civil litigation, municipal, land use, and real estate.
- Nana Asante-Smith, attorney, Raleigh
Nana Asante-Smith is a litigator at Parker Poe Adams & Bernstein where she focuses her practice on business litigation and government investigations and white collar defense. A graduate of Duke University and the University of North Carolina School of Law, Asante-Smith is active in the legal community and local politics across the Triangle. Prior to joining Parker Poe, she served as an assistant district attorney in Wake County. She currently serves as the president of the North Carolina Association of Black Lawyers.
- Joseph V. Burns, paralegal, Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP, Winston-Salem
Joseph V. Burns is a North Carolina certified paralegal, appointed to the State Judicial Council by the president pro tempore of the North Carolina State Senate effective January 1, 2019. A summa cum laude graduate of the University of Scranton, Burns has been employed for the past 21 years by Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP in its Winston-Salem office. He is currently part of the firm’s LitSmart® E-Discovery team, having previously provided support for trademark / copyright litigation. Burns’ prior employment includes the clerk’s office of United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia City Controller’s Office, and St. Joseph’s University.
- Hugh B. Campbell III, attorney, Stokes and Surry counties
- Adrienne Cole, president, Raleigh Chamber of Commerce
Adrienne Cole is president and CEO of the Raleigh Chamber of Commerce where she leads the Triangle’s largest non-profit business membership organization representing two-thirds of the private sector employment in Wake County. In this role, Adrienne and the Raleigh Chamber work to create a thriving economy, support business friendly public policy, encourage investments in transportation and education infrastructure, foster entrepreneurship and grow Wake County’s future leaders. Adrienne is a graduate of Meredith College and received a master’s degree in public administration from Appalachian State University. She serves on the Triangle YMCA Board of Directors, the Executive Committee and Board of the Research Triangle Regional Partnership, the Meredith College Board of Trustees, and on the Board of the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives.
- Rebecca Sofley Henderson, attorney, Charlotte
Rebecca Sofley Henderson of Charlotte is a lawyer, mediator, arbitrator, executive coach, and community leader with more than 30 years of experience in managing and resolving complex commercial disputes. As a former executive in the legal department of a large financial institution (Wells Fargo and its east coast predecessors), Rebecca managed a team of more than 180 attorneys, paralegals, and legal professionals across multiple domestic and international locations who provided advice and counsel on all aspects of commercial banking, capital markets, corporate trust, and insurance services. Prior to her corporate service, Rebecca was a partner in a large regional law firm, focusing her practice almost exclusively on corporate bankruptcy and commercial litigation.
- Jonathan P. Heyl, attorney, Fox Rothschild LLP, Charlotte
Jon Heyl is a partner in the Charlotte office of the Fox Rothschild LLP firm. He practices commercial civil litigation, and has held multiple leadership positions with the North Carolina Bar Association. Most recently, he served a two-year term as the chair of the North Carolina Bar Association’s Committee for Judicial Independence.
- Quentin Miller, sheriff, Buncombe County
Sheriff Quentin Miller was born and raised in Asheville and served at the Asheville Police Department from 1994 to 2018. Sheriff Miller served 11 years in the United States Army as an MP. Two tours in Germany and living in the California desert while stationed at Fort Irwin taught him a lot about the world. He was elected to a four-year term on November 6, 2018, and sworn into office on December 3, 2018.
- John C. Mozingo, chaplain, North Carolina Army National Guard
John Mozingo is a chaplain with the North Carolina Army National Guard where he has served for 27 years. John also teaches religion and philosophy as an adjunct instructor for Pitt Community College in addition to serving as the rector for Holy Cross Anglican Church, a new church plant for the ACNA (Anglican Church in North America) in Greenville, North Carolina.
- James A. Phillips Jr., attorney, Stanly County
During the meeting, members took their oath to serve on the Council. Members also received presentations from Judicial Branch and UNC School of Government staff that detailed the history and administration of North Carolina’s courts. Subcommittees were formed to work on topics and recommendations for budget and performance management, case management strategies, and the administration of justice.
The Council discussed the past, present, and future of the North Carolina court system.
The State Judicial Council is an advisory and oversight body for the Judicial Branch. The Council’s membership consists of representatives from every component of the court system, members of the bar, and the public. The Council is chaired by Associate Justice Robin Hudson and is tasked with advising both the Chief Justice and the General Assembly on proper funding and administration for North Carolina’s state courts. Its various specific and general duties are established by statute in G.S. 7A-409.1.