Skip to main content
Tuesday, April 23, 2024

The Honorable Shirley L. Fulton was posthumously presented with the John B. McMillan Distinguished Service Award on April 19, 2024, during the North Carolina State Bar Council meeting in Raleigh. State Bar President A. Todd Brown, along with Bar Councilor George V. Laughrun II, presented the award. Judge Fulton’s son, Kevin Goode, accepted the award on her behalf.

Judge Fulton grew up in Kingstree, South Carolina. She entered North Carolina A&T College at the age of 16 and graduated in 1977. Judge Fulton then graduated from the Duke University School of Law in 1980. After law school she worked in private practice before joining the Mecklenburg County District Attorney's Office in 1982. She was the first African American female prosecutor in Mecklenburg County. In 1987, Judge Fulton was appointed to the NC District Court bench, and then in 1988 she was elected to the NC Superior Court bench. She was the first African American woman to win a seat as a judge in superior court. She served as senior resident superior court judge for 14 years. While on the bench, Judge Fulton led the courts in revising superior court calendaring procedures, successfully campaigned for bonds to build the current Mecklenburg County Courthouse, and developed programs to address the needs of non-English speaking court participants. During this time, Judge Fulton survived two bouts of breast cancer.

Judge Fulton promoted diversity through both her example and mentoring of younger lawyers. After leaving the bench, Judge Fulton was a founding partner at the Charlotte-based Tin Fulton Walker & Owen law practice, where she practiced business and real estate law. She later formed her own alternative dispute resolution firm, Fulton Consulting, and practiced with Singletary Law Firm.

Judge Fulton served on the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Task Force, as chair of the Board of Advisors for the Charlotte School of Law, and as president of the Mecklenburg County Bar. She served as chair of the Charlotte Housing Authority Board of Commissioners, chair of the Juneteenth Festival of the Carolinas Board of Directors, and as co-chair of the United Agenda for Children in Mecklenburg County.

In 2009, Judge Fulton was the recipient of a Citizen Lawyer Award from the North Carolina Bar Association. In 2010 she received the Governor’s Order of the Long Leaf Pine in recognition of her service to North Carolina. Judge Fulton was also presented with the Chief Justice's Professionalism Award. In 2018, Fulton was inducted as a Legal Legend of Color by the NCBA Minorities in the Profession Committee. Further awards include the NCBA Citizen Lawyer Award, the NC Association of Women Attorneys Judge of the Year Award, the NC Charlotte Woman of the Year Award, the Urban League Whitney Young Award, and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund Award.

Judge Fulton passed away on February 7, 2023, at the age of 71. Her remarkable and inspirational career makes her a most deserving recipient of the John B. McMillan Distinguished Service Award.

Filed Under: General News

Back to top