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Sarah Parker Named New Chief Justice Of State Supreme Court

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RALEIGH, N.C. — For 13 years, Sarah Parker has sat on the North Carolina Supreme Court as the lone female associate justice and the lone Democrat. On Wednesday, Gov. Mike Easley met with Parker and told her she will be sitting in a different seat on the court come February -- the Chief Justice seat.

Chief Justice I. Beverly Lake Jr. will retire Jan. 30 after reaching the mandatory retirement age of 72. Parker is set to be officially sworn in on Feb. 6. She will have to run for the position in November in order to hold onto the seat for a full eight-year term.

"It's one of these things as a law student you dream about and think it will never happen. It certainly was a high moment," said Parker.

Parker, who is currently the senior member of the court, will be only the third woman in North Carolina's history to hold the chief justice spot.

"I think it sends a good message," said Parker. "Certainly, for women it's important to see women who have the opportunity to take on the top positions in government, business or wherever."

Parker is excited about her new role, which she calls a great and awesome responsibility.

"It's like the culmination of your legal career and it's the opportunity to perhaps make a contribution to improve our judicial system," said Parker.

In a statement released by Gov. Easley, he said Parker is well-known for her fairness and independence on the bench. Both qualities should serve her well in her new role on the high court.