01/05/13 — Ericka James sworn in as new district court judge

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Ericka James sworn in as new district court judge

By John Joyce
Published in News on January 5, 2013 10:40 PM

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Ericka James places her hand on the Bible held by her husband, Ronald, while she takes the oath of office as district court judge Friday at the Wayne County Courthouse. Superior Court Judge Arnold Jones administered the oath. Mrs. James is the first black woman to sit on the 8th Judicial District bench.

There were three standing ovations on Friday.

The first two were for the 8th Judicial District's first black female judge to be elected and sworn in, the Honorable Ericka Y. James.

The third was for her husband, Ronald.

Dignitaries from across the state, county and city, as well as family and friends and more than 250 members of the local and legal communities, packed into the Wayne County Courthouse Courtroom 1 at 2 p.m. to witness the historic event.

"She is no longer Ericka, she is Judge James, here and forever more," District Attorney Charles "Branny" Vickory III said.

Senior resident Superior Court Judge Arnold O. Jones presided over and performed the swearing in of Mrs. James, a former assistant district attorney from Pikeville. After he delivered her the oath of office he descended from the bench and helped Mrs. James don, for the first time, her judicial robe.

"I get to be the first to congratulate you and to call you Judge James," Jones said.

Judge James was lauded for her accomplishments by Vickory, Jones and her childhood friend and Goldsboro High School Principal Tonya Faison. The two women have been friends since kindergarten and went to school together all the way through their graduation in Petersburg, Va.

"Who would have thought that two girls from little old Petersburg ...," Ms. Faison said during her comments delivered before the full house.

After all the fanfare and heart-felt congratulations, Jones spoke to the audience and thanked those who participated in her career, her campaign for the bench and in Friday's ceremony.

She thanked Jones and Vickory, Sheriff Carry Winders and her pastor, Bishop Alton Smith. She also thanked the Rev. Deborah Pope of the Greater Mount Zion church in Kinston for singing at the event. She thanked everyone except her husband, whom she quickly returned to the microphone to acknowledge.

"The one who put all those signs up, my husband. The one who took all those signs down, my husband. The one who sat up nights and talked to me and cried with me, my husband, Ronald James," Mrs. James said.

Following the ceremony a reception was held in the atrium of the courthouse. Judge James was caught in a whirlwind of hugs and handshakes, congratulations and photos.

"It's awesome," she said. "Surreal."

Before presiding over any cases in either Wayne, Lenoir or Green counties, Mrs. James will spend six months in Pitt County in order to help remove any potential conflicts of interest.