RALEIGH — North Carolina’s chief judge on the state Court of Appeals will be running for reelection in 2022.
Chief Judge Donna Stroud was named to the top spot on the N.C. Court of Appeals by former N.C. Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley in late 2020. Stroud officially assumed the role on Jan. 1, 2021.
“I have been very honored and thrilled to be able to be here since I was elected in 2006,” Stroud told North State Journal in an interview. She added that she loves the work, the research and writing and wants to continue serving North Carolinians.
The now-57-year-old Stroud is a Kinston native who was first elected to the Court of Appeals in 2006. She was re-elected in 2014 after running unopposed.
Stroud commented on some of the changes the courts went through during the pandemic and trying to maintain a balance between efficiency and transparency, as well as going more “digital and electronic” in day-to-day operations.
“We’ve had to do a transition internally to sort of organize everything and to keep up with everything with it being online,” said Stroud.
Courts being closed during the pandemic created case backlogs and Stroud says they are seeing the start of a “deluge” of cases headed their way, including major felony cases and juvenile abuse/neglect cases. She said that the courts are expecting a “tidal wave” of eviction cases with evictions moratoriums being removed.
Stroud received her bachelor’s degree in government summa cum laude from Campbell University. She went on to get her J.D. from Campbell University’s Norman Adrian Wiggins School of Law (1988). While at Campbell law, Stroud ranked first in her class each year.
“I decided in third grade that I wanted to be a lawyer. Don’t know why,” Stroud said. “There were no lawyers in my family. I did not know that I had ever personally met one.”
She went on to say that her father liked to watch court proceedings in his spare time and perhaps that was a source of her interest in the law. Stroud herself likes reading case files in her spare time.
A true Campbell fan and constant learner, for the past 13 years Stroud has been an adjunct law professor at Campbell University School of Law in addition to her duties on the bench.
Stroud also earned an LL.M. from Duke University School of Law as a member of its charter class (2014).
In 1986, after her first year of law school, she married J. Wilson Stroud. The couple have two adult sons, Aaron and Isaac.
Running has been a hobby of Stroud and her whole family for the last decade. Her oldest son has run marathons, but she said she’s only made it up to a half marathon so far. From spin classes to yoga, Stroud likes to keep exercise in the mix, including in her office where she has a treadmill-style desk which she uses to walk while she works.
Following law school, Stroud practiced law at the firm of Kirk, Gay, Kirk, Gwynn & Howell located in Wendell. During her time at that firm, she served as a certified Superior Court mediator and a District Court arbitrator.
By 1995, Stroud was a founding partner of Gay, Stroud & Jackson, LLP. In 2004, she left private practice after successfully being elected as a District Court judge in Wake County.
On the perennial hot topic of barbeque, Stroud said that she grew up on the eastern vinegar based version and her mother introduced her to Lexington style, but that she’s a fan of all types found in North Carolina. She added that she has some special qualifications when it comes to barbeque, gained as a young lawyer working with the Wendell Chamber of Commerce Foundation on barbeque contests.
“We used to sponsor a barbecue contest,” said Stroud. “And I was the sort of person putting together the barbecue contest for several years, which meant that I got to ride around with the judges, and I sort of learned about all the stuff that they look for in a winning barbeque.”