The appointment by former Gov. Mike Easley on his last day in office of two Raleigh lawyers to the Superior Court bench resulted in some unusual last-minute wrangling to get the incoming judges sworn in late Friday night.
Shannon Joseph and Bill R. Pittman took their oaths at 11 p.m. Friday night in a Wake County courtroom, in front of a crowd of more than 50 that gathered last-minute to watch the proceedings, Sarah Ovaska reports.
Joseph and Pittman’s appointments to special superior court bench will be good for the next five years. They’ll both have offices in the Wake County courthouse, but will preside over cases all over the state, depending on where they are needed.
Joseph, an administrative law judge for the N.C. Office of Administrative Hearings, had been tied up in High Point that afternoon in a hearing and couldn’t make it back to Raleigh until after the end of the business day.
Wake Senior Resident Superior Court Judge Donald Stephens, who administered the oaths, was on his way to the ball held that evening for Beverly Perdue, who took office the next morning, when he was asked to administer judicial oaths to Pittman and Joseph before Perdue became governor the next day.
The 11 p.m. slot Friday night seemed to be the time everyone could make, Stephens said. It was open to the public, he said, but acknowledged that it'd be hard for the public to know about the ceremony.
More after the jump.
Pittman, who is now in the process of shutting down his private practice specializing in governmental relations, lobbying and utility law, said he’d made hints for years that he’d like the job but didn’t know he was seriously being considered until last week.
Joseph said she didn’t know she was being considered until the middle of last week, and is not sure who brought up her name to Easley.
"It’s not something I had been campaigning for and applying for until I was being considered," she said.
Joseph’s husband Ripley Rand, son of Senate majority leader Tony Rand, a Fayetteville Democrat, also got the same nod from Easley in December 2006, after Rand lost an election seeking his own place on the superior court bench. The younger Rand is also rumored to be on a short list to be the next U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina.
Both Pittman and Joseph have made frequent donations to Democratic causes and candidates in the state. Pittman has given $1,700 in donations to Easley since 1992, while Joseph gave $250 to Easley in 2004.
Both said they're eager to get to work, and that eagerness meant getting sworn in as soon as possible.
"We can both do a ceremonial thing later if we want it," Pittman said. "It was important for me to go ahead and get started."