Former Criminal Courts Facility Renamed JUDGE CLIFTON E. JOHNSON BUILDING
The Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners today officially renamed the 700 East 4th Street building as the Judge Clifton E. Johnson Building.
Judge Clifton Johnson was a pioneering attorney and judge who became the first African-American to hold several judicial posts, including assistant state prosecutor, District Court judge in Mecklenburg County in 1969 and state District Court judge in 1974.
Four years, later, Johnson became the first African-American elected Superior Court judge since the nineteenth century. In 1982, Gov. Jim Hunt appointed him to the State Court of Appeals, where he served for 14 years.
"Clifton Johnson was one of the best appointments I ever made as Governor," Hunt said in written remarks for the ceremony. Hunt served as governor of North Carolina from 1977 to 1985 and again from 1993 to 2001, and appointed Johnson to the Superior Court bench and later to the State Court of Appeals.
"He was an outstanding judge of great knowledge and judicial temperament," Hunt added. "People were always treated with respect in his courtroom and received the due process and justice they deserved."
Judge Johnson later served as a special emergency superior court judge until his death in 2009.
Judge Johnson was born in Martin County in 1941. He earned undergraduate and law degrees from North Carolina Central University.
"Judge Johnson was devoted husband and father, highly respected judicial official, thoughtful and compassionate community leader and a mentor for many," said Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners Chairman Harold Cogdell. "His knowledge of and respect for the law, his always positive demeanor and his uncompromising commitment to family raised the bar and set the example for so many."
The former criminal courthouse named in his honor is currently home to County offices and support services for the Courthouse. It was constructed in 1988 and held the criminal courts prior to the new Courthouse opening.