LUMBERTON — J. Stanley Carmical’s transition from chief District Court judge in Robeson County to special Superior Court judge will be a fast one.
“Zero transition time,” Carmical said Tuesday with a laugh.
He will take his oath of office during a private ceremony on Friday and again during a public ceremony in a week or two, Carmical said. He’s having the private ceremony because he holding court in Brunswick County on Monday.
“The transition is rapid to say the least,” Carmical said.
Carmical, who has served on the bench in Robeson County since 1989, was nominated by Gov. Roy Cooper on May 23 to fill a vacancy created as a result of the expiration of the term of Judge Ebern “Tripp” Watson III on May 5. The resolution approving his nomination was approved by the state Legislature on June 28 and ratified on Friday. Cooper issued Carmical’s commission that same day.
The process to find his replacement should begin soon, Carmical said.
Ronald Foxworth, president of the 16B Judicial District Bar, has called a meeting for 3 p.m. July 18 to select five candidates to fill Carmical’s District Court seat until the end of the year. Those names will be forwarded to Gov. Cooper, who will chose from among them.
One choice could be Robeson County Department of Social Services attorney Brooke Locklear Clark, who is running unopposed to fill the judicial position being vacated by Carmical. Clark would be sworn in in January after winning the Nov. 6 election in which she is unopposed.
The new chief District Court judge, an administrative position, will be selected by the chief justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court, Carmical said. That selection could be announced Friday in an effort to ensure the Robeson County District Court is not without a chief judge when Carmical assumes his new judicial duties on Monday. The position could go to one of the sitting Robeson County judges: Judith Milsap Daniels, Dale Deese or William Jeffrey Moore. District Court Judge Herbert L. Richardson is set to retire at the end of the year.
Regardless, Carmical said he is ready to assume the responsibilities of his new judicial role.
“I am very excited by the challenge of embarking on new work within the North Carolina judicial system. But I am aware that much is expected of me as a result of this appointment,” Carmical said.
As a special Superior Court judge, Carmical could be assigned anywhere in North Carolina, including Robeson County, to fill judicial needs. He will not be considered a resident judge and will not stand for election. His term as special Superior Court judge is for five years.
“I want to thank Gov. Roy Cooper for the confidence that he expressed in my work as a judge by appointing me as a special Superior Court judge,” Carmical said. “I am also grateful for and humbled by the bipartisan support that I received in the General Assembly when both the Senate and House overwhelmingly confirmed my appointment.”
Rep. Charles Graham, a Democrat from Lumberton, was one of Carmical’s supporters. Graham said he was pleased to recommend the resolution to approve Carmical’s nomination to the full House.
“Judge Carmical brings strong credentials with over 29 years of experience as a judge and is highly respected and regarded throughout North Carolina,” Graham said in a statement. “I’ve had the opportunity to observe the family drug treatment court where he presided, and I left with a positive impression of his commitment and compassion for families and children in Robeson County.”
The judge said he will continue to live in Robeson County, but he is knows he will be logging some miles.
“As a special Superior Court judge I will not be assigned to preside in a particular judicial district or geographic division within the state,” he said. “The Administrative Office of the Courts will assign me to hold sessions of Superior Court as needed throughout the state. My work will likely take me away from Robeson County for most of the time. That is the consequence of my appointment that I regret the most.”
He will miss the friendships he has forged with colleagues, lawyers, courthouse staff and others during his seven terms as District Court judge, Carmical said. He praised the bar members for their outstanding legal ability and their spirit of collegiality.
“There are far too many people to thank than I can individually name,” Carmical said. “I do want to especially thank three members of our local legislative delegation who worked tirelessly to advance my appointment through the General Assembly, Sen. Danny Britt, Rep. Brenden Jones and Rep. Charles Graham.”
Two other District Court bench positions will be filled by county voters on Nov. 6.
Assistant District Attorney Vanessa Burton and Robeson County Assistant Public Defender Jack Moody Jr. filed for the District Court seat that will be vacated when Richardson retires.
Robeson County Assistant District Attorney Angelica Chavis McIntyre and District Court Judge Dale Deese are running for the bench position now held by Deese.
Reach T.C. Hunter by calling 910-816-1974 or via email at [email protected]