Following Chief Justice Lake's retirement this month, Easley was given the choice to appoint a new Chief Justice. He choose Associate Justice Sarah Parker. This meant that Easley had the opportunity to appoint a justice to take Parker's old seat. He nominated Patricia Timmons-Goodson from the NC Court of Appeals. This left a vacancy on the Court of Appeals, so Easley nominated Linda Stephens for that position.
Confused yet? The skinny is this: Democrats get one more seat on the NC Supreme Court and now hold the Chief Justice Seat. Any more questions, read this article