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Linville sworn in as Forsyth County’s first black Clerk of Court

During a special ceremony earlier this week, Renita Thompkins Linville was sworn in as the Forsyth County Clerk of Court.

Linville sworn in as Forsyth County’s first black Clerk of Court
July 11
00:00 2019

During a special ceremony on Monday June 8, Winston-Salem native Renita Thompkins Linville was sworn in as the Forsyth County Clerk of Court, making her the first African American to hold the position.

Appointed by Superior Court Judge Todd L. Burke to replace the vacancy left by Susan Frye who retired earlier this year, Linville has 36 years of experience in the courtroom. A graduate of Reynolds High School, Linville graduated cum laude from NC Central University (NCCU) before earning her juris doctorate from Howard University Law School.

When discussing her appointment with The Chronicle, Linville said it’s something she never imagined would happen. When it was suggested to her by a friend to apply for the position, Linville said she was planning to close her practice and work fulltime with her husband, who is the pastor of Piney Grove Baptist Church.

“A couple of months ago I was just planning on closing my office. I knew that God was calling for me to do something else, I just didn’t know what it was. One of the things I said I could do was go over to Piney Grove and do fulltime ministry and work on some projects that are close to my heart. But it was suggested to me by a friend to consider applying for the clerk of court’s office. I did and I was appointed. And I don’t think anybody was more shocked than me,” Linville laughed.

Aside from her years of experience in the courtroom as an attorney and the top-tier education she received from NCCU and Howard, Linville credits the life lessons passed down from her mother and father as major factors to her success.

Linville’s father, David L. Thompkins, was the first African American to serve as executive director of the Housing Authority of Winston-Salem. She said growing up her father instilled in her the importance of helping those who are less fortunate and that’s how she has lived her life and intends to approach her position as clerk of court.

“Those lessons of giving back and helping others that my parents taught me stuck with me and after I left Howard, I came back home to make a difference,” she continued. “I think my entire life prepared me for this.”

Before Linville took the oath of office, several dignitaries, former colleagues, and loved ones took turns congratulating Forsyth County’s new Clerk of Court. One of the first to wish Linville good luck was The Honorable Cheri Beasley, Chief Justice of the N.C. Supreme Court.

Beasley, who was appointed by Governor Roy Cooper earlier this year, said the clerk of court serves as the gateway to helping people to best resolve their issues and utilize the court system and Linville will be a perfect fit for the position.

“I know you will serve well,” said Beasley, while addressing Linville.

“I know you understand that you will be tasked with making sure we’re all informed of what is going on here in Forsyth County in the courtroom,” she continued. “In the court system we make sure we are dealing with people and appreciating their sense of humanity and treat them with dignity, regardless of why they come before the court. I know you have a heart for the people and I know you have a heart for service and I’m really excited about your leadership.”

Other speakers during the ceremony were Mayor Tempore Vivian Burke, retired U.S. District Court Judge James A. Beaty Jr., Apostle Gloria Samuels, attorney Donald Buie, attorney A.L. “Buddy” Collins, and Forsyth County Assistant District Attorney Pansy D. Glaston.

As Clerk of Court, Linville will manage more than 90 employees, which is about 40% of all the people who work in the courthouse. Additionally, she will be responsible for recording and maintaining thousands of documents including court calendars, subpoenas, judicial orders, injunctions, and judgments. In her new position, Linville will earn a annual salary of $123,554.

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Tevin Stinson

Tevin Stinson

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