Local News

Raleigh Native Makes History With Appointment To Fourth Circuit Court

Posted August 6, 2003

— She wanted to be a fighter pilot, but gave up the cockpit for the courtroom. Now, Allyson Duncan about to make history as the first African-American woman to take a seat on the

United States Court Of Appeals For The Fourth Circuit

.

The position will give the Raleigh native a say in some of today's most pressing legal issues. Duncan will leave her private law practice in mid-August to become a federal judge.

"I am honored almost to the point of being overwhelmed," Duncan said.

She will serve on the bench for the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, the last stop for cases before the U.S. Supreme Court. Duncan is a noted legal scholar who served on the North Carolina Court of Appeals. She is the president of the state Bar Association, an office she will continue to hold.

"My current assessment is that it is manageable," Duncan said. "There are no ethical prohibitions on continuing to do both."

Duncan is keenly aware of her place in history and plans to spend time on college campuses talking with minority students.

"My hope is that I will be able to encourage and mentor and hire them as law clerks and have that kind of nurturing relationship that the judge I clerked for had with me. She was the first African-American woman to serve on that court," Duncan said.

Duncan's mother, a former law professor, is her hero and inspiration.

"We used to wash dishes together and she would teach me poems," Duncan said. "One of her favorite poems was

'Invictus:

It matters not how strait the gate, How charged with punishments the scroll, I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.' Those are words I associate with her."

Duncan's husband, a federal magistrate judge in Raleigh, will swear her into office.

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