Governor Cooper fills vacant judicial seat with Polk County attorney

Published 11:33 am Monday, December 18, 2023

Lora T. Baker to finish term and seek election

POLK COUNTY—An attorney from Polk County has been appointed to serve as a district judge by Governor Roy Cooper. 

Lora T. Baker of Saluda has been appointed to serve as District Court Judge in Judicial District 29B, replacing Judge Emily Cowan. Cowan was first elected to the position in 2012 and retired in June, leaving the remainder of her four year term open for appointment. 

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After interviewing three attorneys, Governor Roy Cooper called Baker in November to say he had chosen her to finish out Cowan’s term. Judicial District 29B serves Henderson, Polk and Transylvania counties.

“These new judges will bring years of legal experience to the bench and have served North Carolina well over the years,” said Governor Cooper. “I appreciate their continued commitment to serving the people of our state.” 

Baker is currently a partner at Feagan Law Firm and the Town of Columbus attorney. She received her Bachelor of Arts from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and her Juris Doctor from Campbell University Norman Adrian Wiggins School of Law.

Baker is also a member of the N.C. Bar Association; including the Family Law and Young Lawyers Divisions, N.C. Association of Women Attorneys, the American Bar Association, the Polk County Bar and N.C. Advocates For Justice.

Baker is unaffiliated politically, and must collect signatures from two percent of registered voters across the district, approximately 2,700 signatures, to be on the ballot for next November’s race in hopes of securing a four-year term. Feagan Law Firm in Columbus has agreed to have a petition available for signatures, or to pick up and collect signatures.

“My judicial philosophy is not so different from the golden rule we all grew up with. I strive to treat everyone with fairness, listening to their stories and understanding that for the person before me, this could be one of the most important days of their life,” said Baker. “As a Polk County resident, I know some of the struggles that people face everyday in this community. Childcare, employment and housing issues are struggles that anyone living here can see. Knowing those local issues will give me context in presiding over family law cases, criminal cases and civil cases in the proper light.” 

Baker was officially sworn in as District Court Judge on December 1, and sat for her first session of court in the position on December 11. She and her husband Matthew live in Saluda with their two dogs, Roo and Raleigh.