First black woman on NC Supreme Court to retire

Posted November 28, 2012 1:30 p.m. EST
Updated November 28, 2012 4:23 p.m. EST

— North Carolina Supreme Court Associate Justice Patricia Timmons-Goodson, the first black woman to serve on the state's highest court, plans to retire next month.

Timmons-Goodson said Wednesday that she will step down Dec. 17. She officially notified Gov. Beverly Perdue of her intention a week ago.

"Understanding there is a time and season for all things, I have concluded that the time has come for me to leave the court,” she said in a statement Wednesday. “Service on the Supreme Court is a privilege that has been granted to fewer than 100 citizens in the history of this state, and I thank the people of North Carolina for the honor of serving them as an associate justice.”

The governor will have to appoint a successor, who will serve the remainder of Timmons-Goodson's term, which runs through 2014. With a little more than six weeks left in Perdue's term in office, it's unclear whether she or Gov.-elect Pat McCrory will choose Timmons-Goodson's successor.

Perdue last April issued an executive order to create a judicial nominating commission to address such vacancies. The 18-member panel has six weeks to solicit nominees and screen them before forwarding three top candidates to the governor. She would then choose one to fill the opening after soliciting public comment.

“Pat Timmons-Goodson has devoted her life to serving the people of North Carolina," Perdue said in a statement. "She will be sorely missed, but her legacy will live on. I am proud to count her as a friend and, on behalf of all North Carolinians, I thank her for the invaluable contribution she has made to our great state.”

Former Gov. Mike Easley appointed Timmons-Goodson, 58, to the Supreme Court in February 2006, and she was elected to an eight-year term later that year. She served as a judge on the North Carolina Court of Appeals from 1997 to 2005.

After receiving undergraduate and law degrees from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, she served as an assistant district attorney in Cumberland County from 1981 to 1983. She was then appointed to a district court judgeship and was re-elected to the position in 1986, 1990 and 1994.