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Three Legal Legends of Color Honored

Three Legal Legends of Color Honored

Legal Legends of Color honorees Irving Joyner, left, Patricia Timmons-Goodson and Albert Diaz.

The North Carolina Bar Association recognized the 2017 class of the Legal Legends of Color on Friday, June 23, at the NCBA Annual Meeting in Asheville. The awards are presented annually by the Minorities in the Profession Committee.

The 2017 recipients are:

  • Judge Albert Diaz of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals;
  • Former N.C. Supreme Court Justice Patricia Timmons-Goodson; and
  • Professor Irving L. Joyner of the NCCU School of Law

Judge Albert Diaz
Judge Albert Diaz is the first Hispanic judge to serve on the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.

Diaz grew up in Brooklyn and joined the Marines after high school. He earned a bachelor of science degree in economics from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and earned a juris doctor from New York University School of Law. He also holds a master’s degree from Boston University.

He served in the Marines from 1988-95 as a judge advocate and retired with the rank of lieutenant colonel. Following active service he practiced with Hunton & Williams, and from 2000-05 served as a military judge for the U.S. Navy-Marine Corps Trial Judiciary and as an appellate judge for the U.S. Navy-Marine Corps Court of Criminal Appeals.

In 2001 Diaz became the first Hispanic to ever serve as a state judge in North Carolina when he was appointed to the Superior Court bench. In 2005 he became one of the first judges in North Carolina to serve on the newly established Business Court, and served in that capacity until his confirmation to the Fourth Circuit bench.

Diaz was nominated in November 2009 and confirmed in December 2010. He is a former vice president of the NCBA Board of Governors.

Justice Patricia Timmons-Goodson
Patricia Timmons-Goodson of Fayetteville is a former associate justice of the N.C. Supreme Court and currently serves as vice chair of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, to which she was appointed to a six-year term by President Obama in 2014.

Timmons-Goodson previously served as a vice president on the NCBA Board of Governors in 2001-02 and received the Liberty Bell Award in 2013. The award is presented annually by the Young Lawyers Division in recognition of an individual “who has strengthened the American System of freedom under law.”

A graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the UNC School of Law, she served as an assistant district attorney and legal services attorney prior to her appointment to the District Court bench in 1984. Subsequently elected to three four-year terms, she served as a District Court judge until 1997, when Gov. Hunt appointed her to the N.C. Court of Appeals, where she served until 2005.

In 2006, when Associate Justice Sarah Parker was elevated to the position of chief justice, Timmons-Goodson was appointed to the Supreme Court of North Carolina. She was elected to an eight-year term on the Supreme Court in November 2006 and served until 2012.

She was the first African-American woman appointed or elected to the state’s highest court.

Professor Irving Joyner
Professor Irving Joyner has served on the faculty of North Carolina Central University School of Law since 1982, and from 1984-92 served as the associate dean. He chaired the search committee through which Dean Phyllis Craig-Taylor became dean of the NCCU School of Law.

Joyner received his bachelor’s degree from Long Island University and earned his juris doctor from Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. He has written three editions of the book Criminal Procedure in North Carolina, and regularly prepares annual supplements to the publication.  

Joyner is also noted for his extensive record of pro bono legal service in numerous civil rights and criminal appeals cases, and has served as vice chair of the 1898 Wilmington Race Riot Commission and legal counsel and chair of the Legal Redress Committee of the North Carolina State Branches of the NAACP. Most recently Joyner has been engaged in litigation involving voting laws and redistricting plans in North Carolina. In 2014 he was named one of the NAACP’s Humanitarian of the Year Award recipients for defending “Moral Monday” protesters.

Joyner has also been named Lawyer of the Year by the George H. White Bar Association, an organization of African-American Lawyers in Durham County, and the North Carolina Association of Black Lawyers. In 2006 he was named Professor of the Year by students at the NCCU School of Law.