Funeral service for former North Carolina Judge Doug McCullough

RALEIGH — A funeral has been set for Friday in North Carolina for Doug McCullough, a former state appeals court judge, US attorney and Marine who died at the age of 77.

McCullough died on Oct. 18, according to an obituary from the Palm Northwest Mortuary & Cemetery in Las Vegas. McCullough had moved to Nevada for retirement. A spokeswoman for the funeral home’s parent company said she had no further information beyond the obituary.

McCullough was elected and served on the mid-level Court of Appeals twice – from 2001 to 2008 and from 2011 to mid-2017.

A registered Republican, McCullough resigned in April 2017 in a choreographed move that allowed Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper to nominate his successor — a Democrat — 15 minutes later.

McCullough said at the time he was trying to avoid losing a seat on the 15-member court by resigning before he was forced to resign weeks later for mandatory retirement at the age of 72.

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The GOP-controlled legislature was poised to override a Cooper veto on a bill to reduce the court to 12 seats because — like McCullough — vacancies would arise. McCullough said the court needed all 15 digits to handle its large caseload.

His resignation came before the transfer was complete. In 2019, the General Assembly repealed the 2017 law and kept the court size at 15 judges.

The 2017 law was perceived by critics as an attempt by Republican lawmakers to weaken Cooper, who challenged the law in court.

“McCullough was adamant that our courts should be a fair, impartial place where everyone is equal before the law. His legal capacity, independence and dedication to public service will be sorely missed,” Cooper said in a tweet on Wednesday.

McCullough grew up in Swansboro and served more than 30 years in the Marine Corps, most of them in the reserves, where he rose to the rank of colonel, according to a morgue obituary.

His career also included stints as a federal prosecutor in Philadelphia and Raleigh and work in a private law firm in New Bern.

McCullough’s funeral was scheduled for Friday afternoon at Jacksonville’s Coastal Carolina State Veterans Cemetery, the Tideland News reported. McCullough’s survivors include his wife, Lucci.