In a ceremony attended by some of North Carolina’s legal elite, Carrie Vickery L’09 took her oath of office Thursday to serve Forsyth County as a District Court judge, making her to first alum to ascend to the bench since Elon Law first opened a decade ago.
A member of Elon Law’s charter class made school history this month when she was sworn in as a North Carolina District Court judge.
The Hon. Carrie F. Vickery L’09, who had spent more than six years practicing family law for Holton Law Firm, took her oath of office in a packed sixth-floor courtroom of the Forsyth County Justice Center in downtown Winston-Salem.
In attendance were her new District Court colleagues on the bench, family, friends, the district attorney, state legislators, law enforcement, Elon Law staff members and regional attorneys who together totaled nearly 200 people.
The Hon. Denise S. Hartsfield, a fellow District Court judge, administered the oath, which Vickery took with her husband, Phillips Skipper Jr., and niece Anna by her side. Skipper then helped Vickery don a black robe before the presentation of her gavel by the president of the Forsyth County Bar Association.
Vickery will now hear cases involving family law, misdemeanor criminal charges, and juvenile justice, among other responsibilities. She is the first Elon Law alum, of which the university has record, to be elected or appointed judge at the district court or higher.
“I am truly grateful. I know that I did not get here by myself,” Vickery said in her remarks following the oath. “I know there are so many people who made it possible for me to be here and I cannot tell you how humbling that is.”
Vickery earned a degree in political science from Western Carolina University, enrolled in Elon Law’s charter class at the age of 19, and graduated three years later with a job offer in private practice in Winston-Salem. As an attorney with Holton Law Firm, she quickly rose to regional prominence through community work and service to civic and professional organizations such as the bar association and the Junior League.
Vickery thanked Walter C. Holton Jr., who hired her nearly eight years ago straight from Elon Law. She acknowledged and thanked her family, friends, elected officials, clergy and colleagues who filled the courtroom, as well as the team that helped elect her in November.
“My goal is to be not just a judge, or a judge that gets re-elected, but I want to be a good judge,” she said. “A good judge is humble, which I want to be, which I hope I am. Is smart. Is patient. But you also need help along the way. It takes a village, I suppose. The deputies. The clerks. And all those in a courthouse that makes it run.”
The Hon. Lisa V. L. Menefee, the judge who presided over the courtroom, ended the program with her own advice to Vickery: “Humility. Bring it with you. Fairness, keep it close by. Mercy. Never forge that. Wisdom, work on it. And patience, patience, patience, patience.”