A funeral was set for Friday in North Carolina for Doug McCullough, a former state Court of Appeals judge, federal prosecutor and Marine who died at age 77.

McCullough died Oct. 18, according to an obituary from Palm Northwest Mortuary & Cemetery in Las Vegas. McCullough had moved to Nevada for retirement. A spokesperson for the funeral home’s parent company said she had no additional information beyond the obituary.

McCullough was elected and served twice on the intermediate-level Court of Appeals — from 2001 through 2008 and from 2011 through mid-2017.

As a registered Republican, McCullough resigned in April 2017 in a choreographed move that allowed Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper to appoint his replacement — a Democrat — 15 minutes later.

McCullough said at the time he was trying to prevent the elimination of a seat on the 15-member court by stepping down before he would have had to resign weeks later for the mandatory retirement at age 72.

The GOP-controlled legislature was poised then to override a Cooper veto of a bill to reduce the court to 12 seats as vacancies — like McCullough’s — would occur. McCullough said the court needed all 15 positions to handle its large caseload.

His resignation happened before the override was completed. In 2019, the General Assembly repealed the 2017 law and retained the court size at 15 judges.

The 2017 law was perceived by critics as an effort by Republican lawmakers to weaken Cooper, who challenged the law in court.

“McCullough believed firmly that our courts should be a fair, nonpartisan place where everyone is equal in the eyes of the law. His legal ability, independence and devotion to public service will be sorely missed,” Cooper said in a tweet on Wednesday.

McCullough grew up in Swansboro, North Carolina, and served more than 30 years in the Marine Corps, nearly all of them in the reserves, where he reached the rank of colonel, according to an obituary posted by the mortuary.

His career also included time as a federal prosecutor in Philadelphia and Raleigh, as well as working in a private law practice in New Bern.

McCullough’s funeral was scheduled for Friday afternoon at the Coastal Carolina State Veterans Cemetery in Jacksonville, the Tideland News reported. McCullough’s survivors include his wife, Lucci.

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