Courts & the Law, News

Cooper taps DPS official, ACLU legal director to serve as new Court of Appeals judges

Reuben Young and Chris Brook

Gov. Roy Cooper announced Monday two new appointments to the state Court of Appeals.

The new judges are Reuben Young, who currently serves as chief deputy secretary for adult corrections and juvenile justice at the North Carolina Department of Public Safety, and Chris Brook, who is currently the legal director of the ACLU of North Carolina.

“The work of the North Carolina Court of Appeals must instill confidence in the people of our state, reminding them they live within a fair and just society,” Cooper wrote in a news release. “These appointees will bring extensive legal experience to their service on the court.”

Both Young and Brook are registered Democrats. They are filling vacancies left by now state Supreme Court Justice Mark Davis (who was appointed to fill a vacancy left by current Chief Justice Cheri Beasley, who was appointed to that role upon Mark Martin’s unexpected retirement) and Judge Robert Hunter, who retired April 1. The court will become an 8-7 Democratic majority.

Young previously served for five years as a special superior court judge and as Secretary of the NC Department of Public Safety. He also served as chief legal counsel in the Governor’s office. He received his undergraduate degree from Howard University and his law degree from North Carolina Central University.

Brook is no stranger to North Carolina’s appellate system. He has been to the Court of Appeals many times in his capacity as legal director at the ACLU. He challenged the state’s anti-LGBTQ HB2 law and has been involved in many ACLU cases. The organization’s website highlights specifically his work to safeguard religious liberty in public schools, his fight against Amendment One and to narrow its potential collateral consequence, and his work to protect free assembly rights in Charlotte during the Democratic National Convention.

Brook previously served as a staff attorney for the Southern Coalition for Social Justice and as an attorney in private practice. He received his undergraduate and law degrees from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Neither Young nor Brook immediately responded to email requests for comment.

The Court of Appeals decides only questions of law, not questions of fact. It reviews cases appealed from lower courts for errors of law or legal procedure. Some of its cases can be appealed to the state Supreme Court.

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