08/24/04 — New magistrate hired to fill vacancy

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New magistrate hired to fill vacancy

By Jack Stephens
Published in News on August 24, 2004 2:02 PM

A magistrate has been hired to replace Gilbert Owens, who resigned.

The announcement of the new magistrate, Patricia Williams, was made Monday by Jerry Braswell, the resident Superior Court judge for Wayne County.

Braswell, who has been holding court in New Hanover and Pender counties, could not be reached for comment. Ms. Williams' appointment was confirmed Monday by Clerk of Court Marshall Minchew.

Ms. Williams, who lives in Pikeville, has been working with the state Correction Department in Raleigh. She also has been the assistant men's and women's tennis coach at Shaw University in Raleigh and was an employee with the Federal Bureau of Prisons at Fort Dix, N.J.

Since Owens resigned June 30, saying he wanted to spend more time in his ministry, he was arrested by Mount Olive police and charged with felony possession of cocaine. He had served 18 months of a two-year term as magistrate.

Minchew said today that on July 27 he had nominated nine people for the job from about 25 or 30 who had applied. By law, he said, Braswell had 15 days to appoint one from those nominated.

Many of those disqualified lived outside of Wayne County.

Braswell had interviewed Ms. Williams and several others before making the selection.

Minchew said Ms. Williams was not among the nine nominated. But her application was mistakenly put in the stack that had been sent to Braswell.

"He has the prerogative to appoint whoever he wants to," Minchew said of Braswell, "just like I have the prerogative to nominate whoever I want to."

Owens had been chosen over two veteran magistrates although he had been convicted of four worthless check charges and several minor traffic offenses. At the time, Braswell said Owens' record did not bother him.

Another appointee withdrew after a few days in 2003 because she did not have a four-year college degree or the required experience.