RALEIGH — Governor Roy Cooper on Friday appointed Erica Standfield Brandon to fill the open 17-A District Court Judge seat, making her the first African American judge, elected or appointed, to represent Rockingham County.
A native of Milton, who has worked as a state prosecutor for the Rockingham County District Attorney's office since 2009, Standfield Brandon fills the post vacated by Judge Michael Gentry of Caswell County, who retired in May.
“There have been in the past and currently are several African American attorneys who have been more than qualified to serve the citizens of Rockingham County as a District Court Judge,” Standfield Brandon said in a published statement on Saturday. “The God I serve has placed me in a position to stand on their shoulders and hold this position. I will make them and all of the citizens I serve proud.”
With the appointment, Standfield Brandon brings broad legal experiences and a history of community engagement to the bench, Cooper said.
“I am grateful for her commitment to public service in North Carolina,” Cooper said in a press release.
A Democrat who rang in 41% of the vote last November, Standfield-Brandon will fill the third seat in the district made up of Caswell and Rockingham counties.
The senior state prosecutor, who earned her bachelor’s degree from UNC Greensboro and her juris doctorate degree North Carolina Central University School of Law, has prosecuted thousands of cases in the 17-A district.
During her time as an assistant district attorney, Standfield Brandon handled myriad cases, including rape, drug trafficking, serious felony assaults, habitual felons, driving while impaired and child sex offense cases.
Rockingham County District Attorney Jason Ramey, whose prosecutorial district also represents Caswell County, commended the governor for choosing Standfield Brandon.
“For 10 years, she has been an honest, hardworking and fair prosecutor, serving our community with the utmost integrity and excellence,” Ramey said. “She will continue to bring all of these traits to the bench as a judge. This is a huge loss for the district attorney’s office, but a tremendous gain for the people of Rockingham and Caswell counties.”
As a district court judge, Standfield Brandon will handle civil cases involving less than $25,000, as well as divorce, child support and child custody proceedings.
District court judges also hear non-jury criminal cases involving misdemeanors and infractions, as well as juvenile cases.
Standfield Brandon said she is humbled and appreciative to receive the appointment from Cooper and to serve the citizens of two counties.
“After thoughtful prayer, I filed my candidacy for District Court Judge a year ago to the date. I am so thankful for all the supporters who worked so diligently for me during the campaign and during the appointment process,” Standfield Brandon said in her statement.
“I truly appreciate all of the local citizens, clergy, attorneys from the local bar, and local and state-wide elected officials from both political parties that wrote letters, made calls or sent other correspondences to the Governor recommending that I be appointed to this position. The God I serve is truly awesome.”
In May, Standfield-Brandon was nominated for consideration by the governor by a majority of her peers.
Following state law, the 17A Judicial District Bar Association met to nominate potential replacements for Gentry, who was required by state statute age restriction that compelled him to step down from the bench at age 72.
Nominated by Superior Court Judge Stan Allen, Caswell County resident Standfield Brandon garnered 35 of the 36 nomination votes cast.
Reidsville attorney Gabe Zeller, who ran as an Independent against Gentry and Standfield Brandon in November, nominated himself for consideration — an action that didn’t receive a second.
Both Standfield Brandon and Zeller were considered for the vacancy.