Chief Justice Cheri Beasley began her twenty-year judicial career as a District Court Judge in Cumberland County, North Carolina in 1999. Prior to her appointment to the bench, she practiced law in the Twelfth Judicial District’s Public Defender’s Office where she tried cases ranging from misdemeanors to capital murder.
After ten years of service on the district court bench, she was elected to serve as an Associate Judge on the North Carolina Court of Appeals. Her election made her the first African-American woman elected in any statewide race without first being appointed to the office.
Chief Justice Beasley served four years as an Associate Judge on the North Carolina Court of Appeals. She was then appointed by Governor Perdue to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court of North Carolina created by the retirement of Justice Patricia Timmons-Goodson in 2012.
At the time of her appointment, Chief Justice Beasley was the sixth woman and only the second African-American woman to serve on the Court. With her appointment by Governor Cooper in March, 2019, Beasley became the first African-American woman in the Supreme Court’s 200-year history to serve as Chief Justice of the state’s highest Court, and only the fourth African-American woman to lead a state’s highest court in the entire United States.
She is a graduate of Douglass College of Rutgers University and of The University of Tennessee College of Law. In 2018, she earned an L.L.M. in Judicial Studies from Duke University School of Law. She has received Honorary Doctorates of Humane Letters from North Carolina Central University and Fayetteville State University.
Chief Justice Beasley’s commitment to serve North Carolina and her residents has extended far beyond the halls of justice. She has worked tirelessly mentoring students and judges. She lectures at area law schools and travels extensively nationwide and abroad to promote the rule of law, the administration of justice, the importance of an independent judiciary, and fair judicial selection.
Chief Justice Beasley has spent her career in dedicated support of the legal profession. She is the Chair of the North Carolina Equal Access to Justice Commission as well as the Chief Justice’s Commission on Professionalism. She has served on the American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on Legal Aid and Indigent Defense (SCLAID) for many years. She holds memberships in the American Bar Association, the North Carolina Bar Association, the North Carolina Association of Women Attorneys, the Capital City Lawyers Association, and the North Carolina Association of Black Lawyers. She formerly served as vice-president of the North Carolina Bar Association and is a member in a host of other professional and civic organizations.
Chief Justice Beasley is the proud recipient of a number of professional awards and honors, including the Fayetteville State University Chancellor’s Medallion, the Gwyneth B. Davis Award of the North Carolina Association of Women Attorneys, the University of Tennessee Knoxville’s Trailblazer Award, and the Women of Justice Public Official Award. She has received inductions into The Douglass Society, the highest honor bestowed by Douglass College-Rutgers University, and the Hall of Fame of the Rutgers University African-American Alumni Alliance.
Chief Justice Beasley and her husband Curtis Owens are the proud parents of twin sons, Thomas and Matthew, who are currently attending college. Their home church is First Baptist Church, Moore Street, in Fayetteville, and they are members of First Baptist Church, South Wilmington Street, in Raleigh where Chief Justice Beasley serves on the Board of Trustees.