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Cooper appoints Beasley as chief justice

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Gov. Roy Cooper on Tuesday named Associate Justice Cheri Beasley as Chief Justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court, making her the first black woman to serve in the role.

“This is not the North Carolina of 200 years ago,” Beasley said.

“Chief Justice Mark Martin has admirably served our state for years, and I wish him well in his new role,” Cooper said in a statement. “Justice Beasley is a well-respected jurist, and I know her to be fair and deeply committed to viewing all North Carolinians equally through the eyes of the law. I appreciate Justice Beasley’s willingness to serve the people of our state in this critical role.”
A state Supreme Court justice since 2012, Beasley was previously an associate judge on the North Carolina Court of Appeals, and before that served as a District Court judge. Gov. Jim Hunt first appointed Justice Beasley to the state bench in 1999. Beasley is a graduate of Rutgers University and received her J.D. from the University of Tennessee College of Law.

Since he picked a current Supreme Court judge to replace retiring Chief Justice Mark Martin, Cooper will also need to appoint a justice tro fill Beasley’s seat. Cooper said he will announce his pick for that seat later. If he picks another Democrat to replace Beasley, the court will have a 6-1 Democratic majority, the Raleigh News & Observer noted in its report. The court had been 5-2 in favor of Democrats before Martin, a Republican, announced he was leaving to lead a law school in Virginia.