Longtime North Carolina Judge Announces Transition to Senior Status at Federal Appellate Court, Opening Vacancy

RALEIGH, N.C. – Circuit Judge Jim Wynn of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has announced his decision to transition to senior status, reducing his role on the federal appellate court. Having served on the court since 2010, Wynn’s move to senior status will create a vacancy on the 15-member appeals court. Details regarding the specific date of this transition have not yet been disclosed. When judges choose senior status, they can opt for a reduced caseload while still receiving their salary as an annuity.

Wynn, a native of Martin County, North Carolina, is one of three judges from the state serving on the 4th Circuit. Headquartered in Richmond, Virginia, this court hears federal appeals from North Carolina, Virginia, South Carolina, Maryland, and West Virginia. With his 70th birthday approaching in March, Wynn’s decades-long legal career has seen him serve as a Navy officer and a member of the North Carolina Court of Appeals.

Prior to his confirmation to the 4th Circuit, Wynn was appointed to the state Supreme Court by then-Governor Jim Hunt in 1998. However, he lost an election shortly after and returned to the state Court of Appeals. Wynn’s first nomination to the 4th Circuit in 1999 by President Bill Clinton was blocked by then-Senator Jesse Helms of North Carolina. However, he was successfully nominated by President Barack Obama in 2009. If Wynn completes his transition to senior status soon, President Joe Biden will have the opportunity to nominate his successor.

During his time on the 4th Circuit, Wynn authored opinions for three-judge panels that invalidated North Carolina legislative districts for being racial gerrymanders. He also ruled against a congressional district map that displayed “invidious partisanship” favoring the Republican Party. However, the U.S. Supreme Court later discarded his decision on partisan gerrymandering in 2019. In addition, Wynn served on a 2016 appeals panel that struck down parts of a 2013 North Carolina law, stating that the provisions were targeted at African Americans with discriminatory intent.

As Judge Jim Wynn of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals prepares to assume senior status, creating a vacancy on the court, his years of service and notable rulings will be remembered. With President Joe Biden expected to have the opportunity to nominate a successor, the court’s composition will likely undergo changes in the near future.