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LUMBERTON — Robeson County’s newest judges have been sworn in to their bench positions in Superior and District courts.

Outdoor swearing-in ceremonies took place this weekend for Superior Court Judge Tiffany Powers and District Court Judge Greg Bullard.

Powers was administered the oath of office by Judge Donna Stroud, chief justice of the North Carolina Court of Appeals. The ceremony at Lumberton High School campus was attended by Powers’ family, friends and colleagues.

“It was the culmination of a lot of hard work, prayers and just the hopes and dreams of many days and nights, and I am thankful,” Powers said. “I am overwhelmed by the support of the people that were able to come and then the people online because we Zoomed it.

“There were people from all walks of life and people that I have met from so many different capacities. It was awesome.”

Powers assumed the N.C. Superior Court District 16B Seat 1, the seat vacated by longtime Superior Court judge and Powers’ “mentor,” Frank Floyd, who recently retired after holding the seat since 1997.

Powers is the first African American and the first woman to serve as a judge in Superior Court in Robeson County.

“It is a big responsibility. And I may be the first, but I will not be the last,” she said.

Powers has been practicing law for 25 years and has experience in civil, criminal and administrative law. She also served on the Robeson County Board of Elections.

She was first sworn in to the county Elections Board on Aug. 4, 2009, and served for two years. Powers was sworn in again on July 16, 2013, and served until the board was dissolved on Dec. 28, 2018, along with the state board and all other county boards after a state District Court ruled on Dec. 27, 2018, that the 2016 law establishing the state board’s makeup was unconstitutional. A county board was reinstated in February 2019, and Powers was appointed by Cooper as the board’s fifth member and its chairperson.

Her ultimate goal as judge is to “do a good job.”

“I want to serve the citizens of Robeson County fairly and impartially,” Powers said. “I want to treat our citizens with dignity and to administer justice as wisely and fairly to the best of my ability.”

Bullard was sworn in Saturday to District Court 16B Seat 6. Chief Superior Court Judge Greg Bell administered the oath of office on the Robeson County Courthouse steps.

“It was an incredible moment. I was really humbled,” Bullard said. “Sometimes it seemed like it was surreal, but I’m very blessed. It was an excited moment for me.”

The District Court 16B Seat 6 was created when Gov. Roy Cooper on Oct. 14, 2019, signed into law House Bill 1001, which allowed the number of assistant district attorneys in Robeson County to increase from 12 to 13 and the number of county District Court judges to increase from five to six. The bill unanimously passed the Senate and was approved in the House on a 104-1 vote.

The legislation creating the extra ADA slot and the extra District Court judge position was “an act consistent with House Bill 966 of the 2019 regular session providing the resources necessary to implement the legislation known as Raise the Age,” HB 1001 reads in part. The Raise the Age legislation, which went into effect Dec. 1, 2019, ended the state’s practice of treating 16- and 17-year-olds as adults in the criminal justice system.

“In this day and time with COVID and the pandemic, I think this seat is going to be very beneficial to Robeson County and address the backlog of cases that we have and make sure justice is quicker,” Bullard said. “I’m happy to be apart of that.”

Bullard, a Lumberton resident, began his career as a practicing attorney in Robeson and surrounding counties in September 2000. Bullard established the law firm Bullard and Bullard, PLLC, with his late father, Donald W. Bullard, and after his father’s retirement, created and managed the Law Office of Gregory A. Bullard, PLLC. During this time, Bullard also served as an adjunct professor in the School of Business at The University of North Carolina at Pembroke for 10 years.

In addition to his parents, Bullard credits his wife, Jessica Scott Bullard, and their three sons, Ethan, Nakoma and Wyatt, for his success.

“I have a wonderful family that is very supportive,” Bullard said.

Both Bullard and Powers encourage unity among the courts.

“I want to bring dignity and fairness,” Bullard said. “I think we have some of the greatest judiciary colleagues in the state in Robeson County. We’re a family, we’re a team, we’ll work together and I’m looking forward to addressing any case that we have in our county.”

“This is a time for us to gather together and collectively work to make our court systems better,” Powers said. “Especially during this time of COVID when there’s so many pressures to conduct court but conduct court safely. We need to think outside the box, and we need to ensure that we are being safe at each juncture and not depriving people of their constitutional rights to be heard before the court.”

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