GREENSBORO — Guilford County's bars plan to cast ballots Wednesday to nominate replacements for the county's public defender and a judge.
Earlier this year, Public Defender Fred Lind announced his retirement effective Dec. 1. He is only the second leader of the Guilford County Public Defender's Office since its inception in 1970.
"I've had some health issues and I've been thinking about it anyways," Lind said of his decision to retire. "I've been doing this for 45 years and I want to enjoy retirement."
His term expires on March 31, 2023.
Along with replacing Lind, the bars will recommend someone to fill an opening on the District Court created by the unexpected Aug. 3 death of Chief District Court Judge Tom Jarrell.
N.C. Supreme Court Justice Cheri Beasley already appointed Judge Teresa Vincent as the new chief District Court judge. However, that still leaves Jarrell's seat open.
Beginning at 3 p.m. Wednesday, the Greensboro and High Point bar associations will select from a list of people to replace both men. The candidates will have three minutes to address the bar as lawyers vote for their nominations.
Only one person applied to be nominated for Lind's job: John Nieman, an assistant public defender since 2004, who is leading the High Point office. He had also worked in private practice and as a prosecutor.
Because the bars need to supply at least two names for the nomination process they added James "Jim" Swisher as a possible nominee. Senior Resident Superior Court Judge Joe Craig said it's tradition for Swisher to offer up his name to fulfill the requirement for two candidates, although he does so not expecting to be picked. Swisher has practiced criminal law for more than 50 years. The bars could also take nominees during the meeting.
Nominations for Lind's job will go to Craig, who will make the appointment.
As for Jarrell's seat, several people are vying for a spot on the bench: attorneys Stephanie Goldsborough, Daniel Harris, Erik Hamner, and Marc Tyrey, Assistant District Attorney Ashley Watlington-Sims, Assistant Clerk of Superior Court Michele Lee, and Tab Hunter, who most recently was senior assistant district attorney in Albany, Ga.
The names of the candidates with the five highest votes will be sent to Gov. Roy Cooper, who will decide the appointment.