RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — A longtime North Carolina judge is preparing for a reduced role at the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Circuit Judge Jim Wynn, who joined the federal appellate court in 2010, filed notice earlier this month that he would be moving to what’s called senior status.
Wynn’s specific date for that switch — which will then create a vacancy on the 15-member appeals court — was not immediately posted on the U.S. Courts website. Under senior status, judges can choose to handle a reduced caseload while receiving the salary of their position as an annuity.
Wynn, who will turn 70 in March, is a Martin County native and one of three North Carolina judges on the 4th Circuit, which is based in Richmond, Virginia, and hears federal appeals originating from North Carolina, Virginia, South Carolina, Maryland and West Virginia.
A former Navy officer, Wynn served on the North Carolina Court of Appeals almost continuously from 1990 until his 4th Circuit confirmation. Then-Gov. Jim Hunt had appointed Wynn to the state Supreme Court in 1998 to fill a vacancy, but he lost an election to remain on the high court weeks later and was then returned to the state Court of Appeals.
Wynn was first nominated to the 4th Circuit in 1999 by President Bill Clinton. Then-Sen. Jesse Helms, R-N.C., blocked his approval. President Barack Obama’s nomination of Wynn in 2009 proved to be successful. President Joe Biden will be ensured the opportunity to nominate a successor on the court should Wynn soon complete his move to senior status.
While at the 4th Circuit, Wynn wrote opinions for three-judge panels that struck down North Carolina legislative districts as racial gerrymanders, and a congressional district map as stained by “invidious partisanship” designed to favor Republicans who drew it. The U.S. Supreme Court essentially threw out his partisan gerrymandering decision in 2019.
Wynn was on a 2016 appeals panel that struck down several portions of a 2013 North Carolina law requiring photo identification to vote and scaling back early in-person voting. That panel determined that the challenged provisions targeted “African Americans with almost surgical precision” and that the GOP-dominated General Assembly enacted them with discriminatory intent.