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Cooper taps assistant public defender for Durham district court judgeship

Amanda Maris

Gov. Roy Cooper has appointed assistant public defender Amanda Maris to serve as district court judge in Durham County — the seat held by former judge and now Rep. Marcia Morey (D-Durham).

“Amanda brings extensive legal experience and a true commitment to improving the Durham community to her new appointment,” Cooper said. “I’m pleased to appoint her to the district court bench.”

Maris, 38, served as assistant public defender in Durham for 10 years and worked in the district’s Misdemeanor Diversion Program, which was founded by Morey.

Morey was re-elected to the judgeship in 2014 but resigned April 5 after being appointed to permanent fill the House District 30 seat after the October death of Paul Leubke.

Maris also served as an adjunct professor, teaching legal writing at the North Carolina Central University School of Law and has experience in private practice.

She shared the news about her career change Friday on her Facebook page.

“I am truly honored and grateful to have this opportunity to serve such a diverse and amazing city full of people and communities I love,” Maris wrote. “This judicial appointment is a valuable gift and responsibility, a responsibility to contribute to the fair and impartial administration of justice and to do my part to see that the arc of the moral universe does indeed bend towards justice.”

Maris, who lives in Durham County with her family, has been a Board member (and President) of the Durham County Teen Court and Restitution Program since 2009 and a volunteer judge since 2007, according to her LinkedIn.

In 2009, Maris co-founded a public expunction clinic in a partnership with Legal Aid of North Carolina and was a nominee for the N.C. Bar Association Chief Justice Award in 2015 for that work.

Maris is also the co-chair of the Durham People’s Alliance Education Committee and a Board member of Rebound: Alternatives for Youth, an innovative program in the state that allows students to continue their studies during suspensions.

She was one of nine people who sought appointment to the judgeship, including Sen. Floyd McKissick Jr. (D-Durham, Granville), who dropped out over concerns about a judicial redistricting bill.

“Thank you to everyone who believed in me and to my colleagues who were equally qualified for this opportunity,” Maris wrote on Facebook. “I am humbled to be chosen to serve you as your next District Court Judge, and I will work tirelessly to serve you well, always.”

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