About Judge Brenda Branch

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Brenda Branch is a twin and was born in 1959 in Garysburg, NC., where she attended elementary school.  She attended Gumberry High School just up the road from Garysburg.  While in her senior year of high school, Brenda gave up extracurricular activities such as cheerleading, to work at the local Truck Stop.  The Truck Stop was close enough to her home that she could catch rides to work as the family’s car often needed repairs.  Because of her full-time job, she failed to graduate with honors by two points.  Upon graduation in 1977, Brenda went to college at St. Augustine’s College (now University). While there, she joined Army ROTC with aspirations of becoming an Airborne Solider.  When not in class, she spent her time between visiting her high school sweetheart, George Branch at NC A&T and the ROTC building. 

After the second semester of her second year of college, her father died suddenly in August 1978. In February,1979, Brenda and George had their first child, Alisa, a beautiful baby girl, at the age of 19 years old.  Brenda then went back home to work taking orders at McDonald’s in Roanoke Rapids, NC.  While there, she was offered a chance to go to management school for McDonald’s but opted to accept an apprenticeship position as a first class maintenance mechanic at the local papermill in September 1979. Although there was one female in the position, she was the first African American female to enter that apprenticeship.  She attended labor law classes and served as a Union Shop Steward and participated in community programs offered by the company.  She became a Diversity and Team Building Facilitator and a community leader in the Parent to Parent program in the local schools. 

George married Brenda in May 1981 and moved just across the river to Halifax County, NC. in 1984. They had their second child Marquette, a rambunctious son, in May,1988. Brenda was still employed at the mill but in 1989 ten years after she went to the mill, she went back to school.  She enrolled in North Carolina Wesleyan College in Rocky Mount NC. She drove a half hour to class two nights each week and majored in Justice and Public Policy.  It took five years to graduate since she was a part-time student. While there, she managed to make the Deans’ list one semester and was encouraged by some of her professors to apply to Law School.  Upon graduation in 1994, she attended East Carolina University in 1995-1996 in the evenings with the intent to earn a master’s degree in Public Administration.  During that time, she was encouraged by a fellow Wesleyan Alumnus and cousin Melinda Hardy to attend Law School.  She agreed and took the entrance exam in 1997. 

She was accepted to North Carolina Central which was the only school she applied to attend.  She drove one and a half hours to Durham NC three nights each week to attend class for four years at night while still working full time at the mill and raising her family.  While in her third year of Law School in August 1999, her Mother died instantly in a car accident.  It was then that Brenda considered quitting Law School but was then selected student of the year.  In September 1999, after 20 years, she left the mill and interned at the Department of Social Services. In June 2001 she graduated from Law School, moved to Chapel Hill for Bar Class at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill then passed the Bar Exam on her first try.  She was offered a position in the District Attorney’s Office and worked as an Assistant District Attorney in Halifax County from 2001 -2004.  Attorney Branch then went to prosecute in Northampton County where she grew up.  She prosecuted there from 2004-2006. While there, she campaigned for the District Attorney’s position in Halifax.

Attorney Branch won over 40% of the vote, which was considered a good run.  A few weeks later she received a call from the late Senator Holloman, who asked her to apply for the newly created Judgeship in Halifax County considering her recent campaign support.  She was appointed to the position in January 2007.  In August 2008, Judge Branch was recommended to become Chief Judge by retiring, well respected Chief Judge Paul McCoy.  She served as the first female Chief District Court Judge in Halifax until December 2014.  At that time, she was appointed Chief District Court Judge in the newly merged Halifax, Northampton, Hertford and Bertie Counties becoming the first female Chief District Court Judge for the new Counties.  Judge Branch is a prayer warrior.  She believes prayer and fasting kept her through all the hard times. She continues to pray and fast in difficult times and always continues to praise and worship at her local church with George and her supportive church family at Roanoke Chapel Baptist Church in Jackson, NC.

Awards

1999-2000 - Student of the Year, North Carolina Central University School of Law

2009 - WRAL Living a Legacy, WRAL News

2009 - Successful Woman, Black Nobility Magazine
2010 - Citizen Lawyer, North Carolina Bar Association

2011 - Roanoke Valley Woman, Roanoke Valley Magazine

2014 - Best Elected Official, Roanoke Rapids Daily Herald
2014 - Woman Extraordinaire, Business Leader Association
2015 - Woman of the year, Roanoke Valley Chamber of Commerce
2015 - Woman of the Year, Second Baptist Creeksville Church
2016 - Local Hero Award, Shearins Chapel Baptist Church
2017 - Living the Dream Award, Gaston Missionary Baptist Church

2018 - Halifax County NAACP President Award, Halifax County NAACP 

2019 - MLK Drum Major for Service Award, Ahoskie Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority

Organized, initiated and managed the following


A. Successful District Court merger of Northampton, Hertford, and Bertie Counties with Halifax County.
B. Initiated funding for Teen Court in all Counties.
C. Lead the successful implementation of a School Justice Partnership in all 4 Counties
D. Implemented the Family Court Model for all 4 counties (One Judge, One family)
E. Currently working on Domestic Violence Program for all 4 counties.
F. Implemented remote/ video arraignment/ hearings in all 4 counties.
G. Implemented CLE for The Local Bar Association
H. Co-Sponsored Expungement Clinics for local citizens.