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Brenda Branch was sworn in today as the resident superior court judge of Halifax County after winning the May Democratic Primary and running unopposed in the general election.

After remarks by several speakers and thanking numerous people who have helped her through the years, Branch told a large audience gathered on the lawn of the Halifax Courthouse Complex that she knows there will come a time when she will have to make decisions that may not be popular. “I need you to remember justice without favor, without denial, without delay. So remember that we have mandates as judges.”

Branch said much has been said about the bond policy in Halifax County. “We understand the word ‘justice,’ which means we have to consider all things first beginning with the law.”

In speaking with the district attorney, the sheriff, and the district court judges, the officials have met and have considered the bond policy. “We’ve made some adjustments within the law by giving more discretion. Madam DA has a plan. We’ve discussed that plan and we’ve approved that plan.”

Branch said there have been discussions about safety plans which include barring phones from courtrooms. “Just know we’ve met. We have your best interest but we also have the law and we now in Halifax County and across the other counties are a team.”

Said Branch: “We know we have work to do in changing how people may view us. Know that we are prepared to move forward to change how you see us. We are a professional, legal entity and we accept that responsibility. We’re ready to move forward together. We know our weaknesses, we know our strengths and we’re moving forward together to make us better across this district. I thank you for that team.”

North Carolina Chief Justice Paul Newby said the day was to honor the investiture “of a special individual who is assuming the position of a superior court judge after having faithfully served as a district court judge and then as chief district court judge.”

Newby said he and his wife chose to come to Halifax because of their special relationship with Branch. “I believe her heart is with the Lord and this community.”

Said Newby: “I’m so honored to be with you today as by God’s grace we have a wonderful individual who has been elected to be our judge as part of our judicial branch. I’m particularly grateful to the folks in this area for the elevation of Judge Branch to the superior court bench.”

Kuyzendra Cobb, of the United Steelworkers 9-425, spoke about Branch’s work at the Roanoke Rapids paper mill as she put herself through school. “She knew how to make repairs to keep the mill running. She was already exposed to welding and she taught me some welding skills and gave me some pointers. We were in a man’s world at the paper mill and we had to prove ourselves.”

Cobb said just as Branch has done in Halifax County, she was a great asset to the mill and encouraged her coworkers to go after their dreams. “We became good friends. We attended events together as well as going to each other’s church. We miss her at the mill … my prayers are that you will continue to have Halifax County in your best interest.”

Evelyn Dawson, who serves as a community mentor, said, “It has been my pleasure to have known Judge Branch for at least 45 years.”

Dawson and Branch both grew up in Northampton County and now reside in Halifax County. Dawson’s husband worked with Branch at the paper mill. “They attended the mill’s four-year apprenticeship program together and became first class maintenance mechanics.”

Dawson lauded Branch for not only working at the mill while being a wife and mother but obtaining bachelor’s, masters, a law degree and law license while working there. “We are now here for this majestic occasion. Judge Branch has always been a hard worker and a high achiever. She stayed connected to the people and places great emphasis on our community’s well-being because she is of the people, by the people and for the people. Recognizing this, the people elected her as our superior court judge … to ensure and assure there is equal justice for all.”

Adrienne L. Meddock, dean of the North Carolina Central University School of Law, said Branch made the drive from Roanoke Rapids to Durham three days a week after a full day of work at the mill to attend the school’s evening program. “She did that for four years year-round. Do I need to underscore how determined she is? She earned other degrees in a similar way. She’s just unstoppable.”

Branch continues to be active at NCCU, Meddock said. “That dedication is really a lamp for all of us to be lit and inspired by.”

W. Turner Stephenson, who has been named chief district court judge after Branch’s ascension to superior court judge, said, “Judge Branch has managed the court system as (the former) chief district judge very well through the difficult times of COVID, through the recovery from COVID.”

Branch led the district court very well and made many improvements, Stephenson said. “She leaves the district court system in this district in very good shape.”

Senior Resident Superior Court Judge Cy A. Grant, after administering the oath of office to Branch, said, “I am so proud of her. She is going to do a great job in superior court. She’s going to be a workaholic. You’re so fortunate in Halifax County to have someone of this magnitude, someone of this integrity serve in this position.”

Branch’s husband George said, “Brenda Branch has been a visionary as long as I’ve known her. Brenda Branch has been a great woman of faith as long as I’ve known her. Anyone who can write down what they want to be on paper in a field she had no training in yet and you go out there and get it, that’s an awesome woman of faith.”