Alum Ricardo Jensen (‘10) Appointed Superior Court Judge for North Carolina 6th District

Ricardo Jensen
Ricardo Jensen (’10)

A 2010 graduate of Southern Virginia University, Ricardo Jensen was recently appointed as Superior Court Judge in North Carolina for the 6th District of New Hanover/Pender counties to fill the remainder of the judicial term of the previous judge, Phyllis Gorham.

“Running for judge was something that I’ve been considering for a few years now,” said Jensen. “Elections are coming up in November, so I had decided this was a great opportunity to at least try, and if it didn’t work out I would have the experience to try again later. And then when I announced that I was running, Gorham also announced that she was going to be retiring early, and I was fortunate to be appointed to complete her term.”

Prior to his appointment as judge, Jensen served as a public defender for three years at the New Hanover Public Defender Office in North Carolina, five years at the Pulaski Public Defender’s Office in Virginia, where he was promoted to a Senior Trial Attorney position, and three years with ​​the twentieth Judicial Circuit Public Defender’s Office in Florida.

“My father is an attorney, and so I grew up seeing him work and going to trials,” said Jensen. “When I was finishing my mission, I didn’t have any other career goals other than going into law school. It’s been something that I’ve been thinking about since I graduated high school. And I knew that I didn’t want to do law contracts or civil litigation, I wanted to get into the criminal justice aspect.”

Ricardo Jensen swearing in as Superior Court Judge
Ricardo Jensen swearing in as Superior Court Judge

Jensen first learned about Southern Virginia University from a mailer prior to serving a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. After he returned home, he was encouraged to apply to Southern Virginia by family members. During his time as a student, he was a member of the baseball team and graduated with a degree in philosophy.

“The number one thing that I gained from my coursework was the knowledge of how to understand a complicated piece of text, be able to synthesize it and extract a particular side defense argument, and present it in a cohesive way,” said Jensen. “And with that base, I was able to go into law school and into a career that, on a regular basis, requires me to go through and read complicated texts and present them in clear arguments.”

“Philosophy has been a great major to be able to understand arguments and to be able to argue both sides,” Jensen continued. “Professors Jones and Armstrong are great professors that helped grow me to be able to do and understand those things, and so the transition into law school was pretty seamless for me.”

After completing his studies at Southern Virginia, Jensen worked as an intern at both the 20th Judicial Circuit and the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office in 2012 and at the United States Attorney’s Office in 2013, and as a law clerk at Frater Law Firm in 2013. He graduated from Ave Maria School of Law in 2013 with a doctor of law and passed the Florida Bar Exam the same year, beginning work at the 20th Judicial Circuit Public Defender’s Office shortly after on a felony track position.

While completing Gorham’s term, Jensen is pursuing his plans to run for superior court judge in November 2024. He met his wife, Katie Randall, at Southern Virginia University and together they have one daughter.