Class of 2023 Announces Resident Superior Court Judge Alyson Grine ’99 as Commencement Speaker

May 9, 2023

Resident Superior Court Judge Alyson Grine ’99, a double Tar Heel, will deliver the UNC School of Law Commencement address on Saturday, May 13, 2023, at Carmichael Arena. Judge Grine was selected by the Student Bar Association (SBA) to address this year’s graduating class. UNC School of Law Dean Martin H. Brinkley ’92 will preside during the ceremony. 

“The 3L Officers for the Student Bar Association chose–and were thrilled when Judge Alyson Grine agreed to serve–as our Class of 2023 Commencement Speaker. As a life-long North Carolinian and a Double Tar Heel, Judge Grine has been a staunch supporter of public service in our state for almost a quarter of a century after working at every level of the North Carolina court system since graduating from Carolina Law,” says Duma Ali, Class of 2023 and Student Bar Association president. “Given Judge Grine’s background and how important public interest work and pro bono has been to our 3L Class, I believe we could not have asked for a better person to speak with our class about what it truly means to be a public servant and to welcome us into the legal profession as colleagues and fellow Carolina Law alumni. I think I speak for all of SBA and the 3L Class when I say we are excited to have Judge Grine share her wisdom and guidance with our community as we enter the next chapter of our journey.”

Resident Superior Court Judge Alyson Grine ’99

Since graduating from Carolina Law in 1999, Judge Grine has worked at every level of the North Carolina courts. She began her legal career as a law clerk for Judge Patricia Timmons-Goodson at the North Carolina Court of Appeals and the clerk for Chief Justice Henry Frye at the North Carolina Supreme Court.

For 10 years, Judge Grine was the Defender Educator at the UNC School of Government, specializing in criminal law and procedure and how issues of racial and ethnic bias may affect criminal proceedings. She received the Albert and Gladys Hall Coates Teaching Excellence Award from the School in 2012, and the Margaret Taylor Writing Award in 2015 for her work on Raising issues of Race in North Carolina Criminal Cases. She taught courses for attorneys, judges, and magistrates, and authored publications on legal issues to assist them in carrying out the work of the courts. In 2016, the North Carolina Public Defender Committee on Racial Equity presented her with the James E. Williams, Jr. award for “dedication and tireless efforts in fighting for racial equity in the North Carolina criminal justice system.” She also served as an Assistant Professor at North Carolina Central University School of Law, where she taught writing courses such as Appellate Advocacy, and created a new course on Wrongful Convictions.

Judge Grine went on to defend the rights of indigent people accused of felonies and misdemeanors in state trial courts. For five years, she worked as an Assistant Public Defender in Orange and Chatham Counties. As a Spanish speaker, she represented most of the non-English speaking Hispanic clients assigned to the office and spent most of her days litigating cases in Pittsboro and Siler City. In addition to criminal matters, Judge Grine handled specialized sessions of court focused on juvenile delinquency; mental health treatment; substance abuse recovery; child welfare; child support; and traffic.

Judge Grine continued her work in public service as an Assistant District Attorney in the Durham. She also served as Co-counsel on Policy for the District Attorney’s Office, crafting policies on crime victims’ rights, disclosing evidence, and other matters.

In January of 2021, Governor Roy Cooper ’82 appointed Judge Grine to serve as a Resident Superior Court Judge for Judicial District 15B, comprising Orange and Chatham Counties, filling the vacancy created upon the retirement of the Honorable Carl Fox ’78.

“Carolina Law provided a wonderful foundation for a rewarding career in public service,” says Judge Grine. “I remember being wowed by Professor Elizabeth Gibson’s complete command of the rules of civil procedure, and Professor Caroline “Candy” Brown’s obvious delight in the finer points of contractual law and sales and secured transactions. She also made a mean key lime pie she shared during a study session at her home. Professor Charles Boger was also legendary, having argued capital cases before the United States Supreme Court. Fueled by Cokes from Merritt’s Grill, my classmates and I pored over Professor Robert Byrd’s words and debated whether we actually needed to grasp the rule against perpetuities.”