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Voting rights lawyer to fill North Carolina appeals court seat

The North Carolina state flag flies outside the Wake County Firearms Education and Training Center on Election Day, Nov. 8, 2022.
Matt Ramey
for WUNC
The North Carolina state flag flies outside the Wake County Firearms Education and Training Center on Election Day, Nov. 8, 2022.

A longtime voting rights attorney will be appointed to the North Carolina Court of Appeals, Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper said Thursday, filling a vacancy when Judge Richard Dietz moves to the state Supreme Court next month.

Allison Riggs, a co-leader of the Southern Coalition for Social Justice in Durham, has been heavily involved for more than a decade in often-successful litigation to block Republican redistricting maps and laws mandating photo identification to vote. Some of the cases currently await decisions from the state Supreme Court and U.S. Supreme Court.

Riggs also argued before the U.S. Supreme Court in a Texas redistricting case in 2018 and a North Carolina redistricting case in 2019.

Riggs "is a brilliant attorney and an experienced litigator who has spent her career fighting for fairness and defending people’s constitutional rights,” Cooper said in a news release. “I am confident that she will continue to serve our state with distinction and be a great asset to the bench.”

Under state law, Riggs’s term will run through the end of 2024. She would have to run in a statewide election to seek a full eight-year term, which Riggs said in a separate release she plans to do.

“The judiciary serves a critical role in ensuring that equal justice for all is a reality for all, not just some. I look forward to serving on the court and to talking to voters across the state as I run for office in 2024,” Riggs said.

Riggs is listed in election records as a registered Democrat. She'll succeed Dietz, a Republican who won an eight-year term on the Supreme Court by defeating Democratic candidate and fellow Court of Appeals Judge Lucy Inman. Cooper gets to fill court vacancies.

The 15-member Court of Appeals is the state's intermediate appeals court. Cases are usually heard by panels of three judges. Republicans will hold an 11-4 advantage on the court come January.

Riggs used to work with Supreme Court Associate Justice Anita Earls at the Southern Coalition. Riggs received her law degree and two other degrees from the University of Florida.

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