Speculation on the Next North Carolina Supreme Court Justice

Chief Justice I. Beverly Lake will be forced to retire from his post on the North Carolina Supreme Court in January. This leaves Governor Mike Easley with the ability to appoint a justice to take his place. Easley can basically pick amongst any lawyer in the state. His guiding criteria will probably be someone that is a Democrat and has the ability to win in the statewide election justices face every eight years. Let the speculation begin!

From the Wilson Daily:

Most legal experts suggest that Associate Justice Sarah Parker will be named chief justice, which will leave her seat open.

Former N.C. Court of Appeals judge Albert Thomas said he could think of four sitting judges who probably top Easley's list — three of them with a connection to Wilson.

"One issue the governor will have to look at is there is no minority member on the court anymore," Thomas said. U.S. Rep. G.K. Butterfield, who lost a re-election bid for the high court in 2002, was the last black person on the bench. Parker is the only woman on the bench.

Thomas said Appellate judges Jim Wynn and Wanda Bryant probably top the governor's list, along with Superior Court Judges Quentin Sumner and Milton F. "Toby" Fitch.

Thomas added Appellate Court Judge Robin Hudson of Greensboro as another possibility for a female candidate.

I really like what I know about Judge Wynn. The only negative is that he ran and lost in a race for justice against Paul Newby in 2004. The Daily gives a brief bio of Wynn:

Wynn, who used to practice law in Wilson, briefly served on the Supreme Court in 1998. He ran for a seat on the court in 2004, but was defeated. Wynn served on the N.C. Court of appeals from 1990-98 and again from 1999 to the present.

Wynn was nominated by President Clinton for a seat on the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals but was never confirmed by the Senate.

Wynn would be my choice at this point, but we will see what Easley does.