A new episode of the North Carolina Judicial Branch podcast All Things Judicial was released today. This episode celebrates women’s history in the Judicial Branch and is hosted by former North Carolina Court of Appeals Chief Judge Linda McGee. Guests include current Court of Appeals Chief Judge Donna Stroud, Court of Appeals Judge Lucy Inman, and Court of Appeals Judge Valerie Zachary. They discuss their paths to the bench, the people who influenced their lives, and organizations that they found particularly meaningful throughout their careers.
“When I came there I was the only woman on the Court. Our numbers continued to grow and within a few years we had our first all woman panel, and a few years after that, we actually had a majority of women on the Court of Appeals,” former Chief Judge McGee said in the podcast. “It's been great to be able to have one another to be able to talk with, be able to share stories with, and be encouraged by.”
The Judicial Branch is celebrating Women's History Month in March 2021 and this episode was produced to share more about the lives and experiences of a few distinguished women judges. Episode host Judge McGee is the longest serving judge on the Court of Appeals and the three guests have more than 27 years of combined Court of Appeals experience. In addition to this podcast episode, the Judicial Branch has published a feature story about Chief Judge Donna Stroud and is honoring other women through a series of social media posts.
Today’s release is Episode 4 of the podcast, which follows a bi-monthly release schedule. All Things Judicial can be downloaded on all podcast apps and streamed on NCcourts.gov.
About the Host and Guests
Former Chief Judge Linda McGee was appointed to the Court of Appeals in 1995 by Governor Jim Hunt. She was the longest serving judge on the Court of Appeals in state history, having served almost 26 years in that role. She was elected to an eight-year term in 1996, and was re-elected in 2004, and 2012. In August 2014, she was named Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals where she led the court, oversaw its administration, served on the State Judicial Council, and served as vice chair of the Chief Justice’s Commission on Professionalism, in addition to fulfilling her judicial duties.
Beginning in 2016, Chief Judge McGee chaired the Celebrate NC Courts Committee, which was responsible for planning and executing the anniversary celebrations for each level of North Carolina’s court system, that included promoting the Judicial Branch Speakers Bureau and leading the 50th Anniversary of the Court of Appeals. In October 2019, she was presented with the Friend of the Court Award for this leadership role.
Current Court of Appeals Chief Judge Donna Stroud was elected to the North Carolina Court of Appeals in November 2006 and re-elected without opposition in 2014. She was appointed as Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals effective January 1, 2021.
Before her service as a judge, Chief Judge Stroud was in private practice of law from 1988 until 2004, when she was elected as a District Court Judge in Wake County. While in private practice, Chief Judge Stroud was also a certified Superior Court mediator and a District Court arbitrator. Chief Judge Stroud served as a Family Court Judge while on the District Court.
Chief Judge Stroud has been teaching as an Adjunct Professor at Campbell University School of Law since 2008, teaching Judicial Process and Juvenile Law.
Court of Appeals Judge Lucy Inman was elected to the Court of Appeals in 2014 after serving as a North Carolina Special Superior Court Judge from 2010-2014. Before that, Judge Inman worked as a civil litigator from 1992-2010. From 1990-1992, she worked as a law clerk to Chief Justice James G. Exum Jr. at the North Carolina Supreme Court.
Judge Inman is a member of many professional organizations including the Appellate Judges Education Institute, American Bar Association, North Carolina Bar Association, Wake County Bar Association, North Carolina Association of Women Attorneys, board of North Carolina BarCARES, and several more.
Judge Inman graduated with honors from the University of North Carolina School of Law in 1990 where she served on the North Carolina Law Review.
Court of Appeals Judge Valerie Zachary was appointed to the Court of Appeals in 2015 and elected to a full eight-year term in 2016. Before her time on the Court, she was a partner at Zachary Law Offices in Yadkinville for 26 years, and was part of the litigation team of the Charlotte law firm Kennedy Covington Lobdell & Hickman (now K & L Gates) from 1987-1989. Judge Zachary graduated cum laude from Harvard Law School in 1987.
Judge Zachary currently serves as co-chair of the Chief Justice’s Commission on Fairness and Equity, as the chief judge’s appointee to the North Carolina Sentencing and Policy Advisory Commission, and as the state superintendent’s appointee to the Board of Governors for the North Carolina Governor’s School. She is currently receiving her certification as a Healthcare Outcomes Evidence Resource Judge (COVID-related Litigation). She also serves as a mediator for the Court of Appeals and is a member of numerous professional organizations.
The next regularly scheduled episode will be released on April 7 and features the North Carolina Guardian ad Litem program.