DA, judges sworn in

Published 12:00 am Monday, January 3, 2011

By Sarah Campbell
The first female district attorney in Rowan County was sworn in Monday.
Brandy Cook, a former assistant district attorney in Cabarrus County, defeated former Rowan County Assistant District Attorney Karen Biernacki with 64 percent of the vote in November’s election.
“I’m excited about the opportunity to continue the job that I’ve enjoyed so much for the past 10 years,” she said..
Anna Mills Wagoner was also sworn in Monday. She is returning home after serving nine years as U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of North Carolina, making history as the first female appointed to that seat.
Prior to her appointment, Wagoner served as District Court Judge in Rowan County for 11 years, including seven as chief District Court judge.
“It’s great to be back in our courthouse and working with all the court personnel and lawyers that I sort of grew up with as District Court judge,” she said.
Judge Erwin Spainhour, a Superior Court judge from Cabarrus County, administered the oath of office to Cook and Wagoner.
“You folks have taken one of our truly outstanding lawyers from Cabarrus County as your district attorney,” he said of Cook.
Spainhour said the responsibility and authority that come with being district attorney are “truly awesome,” but he expects Cook will do an excellent job.
“You will certainly be glad that Ms. Cook is your new DA,” he said.
Spainhour, who has known Wagoner since she started as a lawyer in Rowan County, said he knows her experience will help her fill the shoes of John Holshouser, who retired from the position after turning 72 in August.
“Judge Wagoner will continue in that tradition of excellence here in Rowan County,” he said.
Wagoner said she relied on Spainhour to show her the ropes before taking office Monday.
“I’ve been following him around and shadowing him for a number of weeks trying to get up to speed,” she said. “I’ve just gotten lots of great help from all of our former Superior Court judges here as well as ones across the state.”
Cook will rely on the knowledge she acquired in her role as assistant prosecutor in Cabarrus County as she takes on her lead role.
“I feel that my past experience … is instrumental in leading this office,” she said.
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Cook’s husband, Mark Schindelholz, held the Bible as Spainhour administered the oath of office.
Her in-laws, Dan and Denise Schindelholz, were also on hand to lend their support.
Wagoner’s husband, Bill Wagoner, daughter, Anna Gregory Wagoner, and son, Price Wagoner, were by her side as she was sworn in.
Her brother, Greg Scarborough, mother, Lib Cooper, and father-in-law, Walt Wagoner, also attended the ceremony.
Wagoner was thrilled to see U.S. Attorney John Stone and her colleagues from the U.S. District Court office in the audience Monday.
“The big surprise was my former federal family being here, I can’t believe they came,” she said. “They took my breath away. I was just so honored that they would drive all the way from Greensboro early in the morning for this special occasion.”
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Aftering being sworn in, Wagoner administered the oath of office to District Court judges Charlie Brown, Bill Kluttz, Beth Dixon and Kevin Eddinger.
Each judge had their spouse by their side as they took the oath.
Wagoner also swore in assistant district attorneys Paxton Butler, Tim Gould, Rosalee Hart-Morrison, Jennifer Hughes, Tom King, Barrett Poplar, Jennifer Suneson and Michelle Walker.
“As far as I’m concerned they are all new employees of my adminstration,” Cook said. “Some have worked here and some have worked in other jurisdictions.”
Hughes and Poplar came with Cook from Cabarrus County, replacing Biernacki and Michael Van Buren.
Cook fired Biernacki and Van Buren before taking her post Monday.
Contact reporter Sarah Campbell at 704-797-7683.