The North Carolina Supreme Court officially has a new chief justice. Cheri Beasley was formally invested as chief justice at a swearing-in ceremony March 7 at the Supreme Court in Raleigh.
Beasley, the 29th chief justice in the court’s history, was appointed by Gov. Roy Cooper to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of former Chief Justice Mark Martin, who had served in that role since 2014. Beasley is the first African-American woman to serve as chief justice in the state’s history, and only the fourth in the country’s history to serve as chief justice of any state’s highest court.
As part of her investiture remarks, Beasley spoke about her commitment to complete the eCourts initiative begun by Martin, fully implement the Raise the Age reforms enacted recently by the legislature, and improve the accessibility of the courts for all North Carolinians.
Senior Associate Justice Paul Newby presided over the special court session and administered the oath to Beasley. Cooper, Attorney General Josh Stein, and others also delivered special remarks. More than 1,000 guests attended the event, filling the Supreme Court courtroom and overflow areas in the State Capitol Building and the Historic First Baptist Church on South Wilmington Street, according to a statement by the North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts.
Beasley has served on the North Carolina Supreme Court since 2012, having been appointed to that position by Gov. Beverly Perdue and subsequently winning statewide election to the office in 2014.
Beasley had previously been a judge on the North Carolina Court of Appeals, and when she won election to that court in 2008, she became the first African-American woman in state history to win a statewide election without having first been appointed to the position. Prior to serving on the Court of Appeals, Beasley had been a district court judge in the Twelfth Judicial District (Cumberland County) since 1999. She is the only chief justice in the court’s history to have experience as a district court judge.
As of the time of the swearing-in ceremony, Cooper had not yet named an appointee to fill Beasley’s former seat on the court.