North Carolina Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley has appointed McKinley Wooten Jr. to permanently take the helm at the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC). He is the state’s first African-American to serve as the director of the AOC.
Wooten, a native of Kinston, has served as the interim director of the agency since Feb. 28, 2019, and prior to that, he served as a deputy director there for over a decade. He manages the administrative services provided to the judicial branch’s more than 6,400 employees and 213 judicial facilities in the state.
“McKinley has done an exceptional job as interim director and has received resounding support from stakeholders at all levels of the Judicial Branch,” said Beasley in a news release. “His passion for helping all people coming to the court system and his experience leading in both the Judicial and Executive branches make him the perfect choice for this critical role for our state’s court system.”
The appointment was made upon the recommendation of a select committee of stakeholders of the court system and the legal profession. Beasley formed the committee in January.
As interim director for the last year, Wooten has actively engaged with stakeholders to discuss their concerns and priorities and to keep them informed of the work being done at the AOC to support them.
He also worked with Beasley to strengthen the judicial branch’s programs and initiatives aimed at expanding court access across North Carolina. Under his leadership, the AOC signed a contract with Tyler Technologies to bring cutting-edge technology to North Carolina’s courts and replace green screen computer systems. This new technology will be leveraged to bring electronic filing, 24/7 online access to court records, and fully integrated case management to all of North Carolina’s 100 counties.
“If the past year is any indication of the strength and innovation of the judicial branch, I know that we have a bright future ahead,” said Wooten. “Because of the quality and dedication of our employees, I can confidently say that the judicial branch will continue to provide consistent and stable justice across North Carolina.”
During his time as deputy director, Wooten oversaw statewide services for courts, including language access, recovery treatment courts, a help desk for clerks of court, child custody and permanency mediation, the Guardian ad Litem program and the Court Improvement Program.
Additionally, he held an integral leadership role in the judicial branch’s statewide eCourts initiative, a multi-year effort to modernize court technology and case management systems. He also serves on a number of government boards and committees, including the Chief Justice’s Equal Access to Justice Commission, Wake County Human Services Board, UNC School of Government Foundation Board, and North Carolina State Employees’ Credit Union, serving as chairperson from 2011-13.