Superior Court Judge Carl Fox announced last Friday he will retire on Oct. 1 after 40 years in the judicial system, most of which was spent serving Chatham and Orange counties.
Superior court judges preside over more serious criminal cases, including felony cases and civil cases involving more than $25,000.
Fox secured his law degree from UNC-Chapel Hill and then began work in the public judicial system in 1978 when he was appointed to be an assistant district attorney in Chatham-Orange’s District 15B by Wade Barber, the former district attorney and judge. Fox later became the first Black district attorney in state history in 1984 with the appointment by former Gov. Jim Hunt in the same district. He then went on to become the first Black judge in the Chatham-Orange District 15B with an appointment by former Gov. Mike Easley in 2006.
In 2015, Fox was diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome, a form of bone marrow cancer. At the time, his best chance for recovery was a bone marrow transplant, according to the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center. But the registry found no matches. The doctors instead used “cord blood” transfusions which, after a lengthy process, allowed Fox to return to the bench in 2016. His struggles also inspired the creation of “Save the Fox,” a still active non-profit dedicated to “locating bone marrow matches for patients diagnosed with blood cancer and to raise awareness of blood cancers and the need for donor registration, especially within minority populations,” according to its Facebook page.
In Fox’s Facebook announcement about his retirement, he thanked his wife, Julia, and his sister, Angela, for their constant support. He also thanked his staff, fellow judges and everyone he “had the pleasure of working with” across the state and the district as well as the Administrative Office of the Courts and the UNC School of Government. He also thanked the Democratic parties of Chatham and Orange Counties and everyone who supported him during his tenure.
“Thank you so very much for your confidence and trust in me,” Fox wrote. “I will be forever indebted to you. It has been my pleasure and an honor to serve you over the past 33 years. Thank you also for your prayers and thoughts when I was at death’s door in 2015.”
Fox said that he was looking forward to traveling with his wife, volunteering with the Save the Fox campaign and celebrating another birthday and his remission on Sept. 30. Gov. Roy Cooper will appoint a replacement for his seat.
Casey Mann can be reached at CaseyMann@Chathamnr.com.
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