NC appeals court judge appointed to Supreme Court
RALEIGH — Gov. Beverly Perdue announced Wednesday she would replace the only black female on the state's Supreme Court with one of the two black women serving on the intermediate appeals court.
Perdue said she was appointing North Carolina Court of Appeals Judge Cheri Beasley to the state's highest court. Beasley would replace Supreme Court Associate Justice Patricia Timmons-Goodson, who announced last month she would retire effective Monday. Perdue's office said Beasley would schedule her swearing in.
Timmons-Goodson was the first African-American woman to serve on North Carolina's highest court. Beasley, 46, follows Timmons-Goodson's career path in working her way up from District Court judge for a decade to the Court of Appeals before being appointed to the Supreme Court by a sitting governor.
Beasley "has excelled both as a District Court judge and as a judge on the Court of Appeals," the governor said in a prepared statement. "She will make a superb justice on the Supreme Court."
Beasley, who was born in Tennessee and served as a District Court judge in Cumberland County, was elected to the Court of Appeals in 2008. The appointment means Beasley will have to run for re-election in 2014 if she wants her own additional eight-year term.
Beasley said in Perdue's news release that she was grateful for Perdue's confidence "in my ability to render fair and impartial decisions while serving on our state's highest court."
Beasley's most high-profile Court of Appeals ruling may have come in 2011, when she wrote the majority opinion in a case involving a Brunswick County alternative school that she decided went too far in searching for pills by requiring female students to untuck their shirts and pull out their bras with their thumbs.
Beasley wrote the bra-lift search was "degrading, demeaning and highly intrusive" in rejecting a trial court ruling that the search was reasonable. The state Supreme Court this fall vacated her decision, returning the case to the trial court to get more facts about the case before ruling.
While Supreme Court elections are officially nonpartisan, Beasley is a registered Democrat who will keep the court's makeup 4-3 Republican.
Beasley's departure also means Perdue has the opportunity to file a vacancy on the 15-judge Court of Appeals before she leaves office in early January. The Court of Appeals hears cases in panels of three judges.
Perdue signed an executive order last week that altered a 2011 order in which she had pledged to choose her appointments for appeals court and Superior Court judgeships by picking among three candidates offered to her by a new judicial nominating commission.
Faced with the end of her term and a weeks-long process by the commission to choose candidates, Perdue's updated executive order said she would make the judicial appointments on her own but planned to consult with commission members regarding a candidate's qualifications.
Perdue did speak with commission members and other leaders in the state regarding Wednesday's decision, spokeswoman Chris Mackey said.
Senate leader Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, who's been critical of Perdue distancing herself from the commission procedure, said in a statement the governor's method of decision-making overshadows "what should be a discussion of Judge Beasley's credentials." Perdue's office didn't immediately comment on Berger's statement.