Burley Bayard Mitchell, Jr.

24th NC Supreme Court Chief Justice

Date Born: December 15, 1940

Date Died: Living

       
       
       
Place Born: Raleigh, NC

Place Buried: Living

 

Chief Justice 1995-1999
Associate Justice 1982-1995
 

Burley Bayard Mitchell, Jr. was born on December 15, 1940 in Raleigh, NC, the son of Burley Bayard Mitchell and Dorothy Ford (Champion) Mitchell. His initial education was in public schools in Raleigh, NC.

From 1958 to 1962, Burley Bayard Mitchell, Jr. served in the U.S. Navy, 7th Fleet.

On August 3, 1962, Burley Bayard Mitchell, Jr. married Mary Lou Willett of Raleigh, NC; they had one son and one daughter.

In 1966, Burley Bayard Mitchell, Jr. graduated with a B.S. degree (Cum Laude) from the North Carolina State University. In 1969, he earned his J.D. at the University of North Carolina Law School. From 1984 to 1988, he attended the New York University School of Law and Inistitute of Judicial Administration. He was admitted to the NC bar in 1969.

From 1969 to 1972, Burley Bayard Mitchell, Jr. served as Assistant Attorney General of North Carolina.

From 1972 to 1977, Burley Bayard Mitchell, Jr. served as U.S. District Attorney for the 10th Judicial District.

From 1977 to 1979, Burley Bayard Mitchell, Jr. served as a Judge on the North Carolina Court of Appeals.

From 1979 to 1982, Burley Bayard Mitchell, Jr. served as Secretary for the North Carolina Department of Crime Control and Public Safety.

In 1982, Governor James Baxter Hunt, Jr. appointed Burley Bayard Mitchell, Jr. as an Associate Justice on the NC Supreme Court, replacing Associate Justice J. Frank Huskins, who retired on February 1, 1982. He was elected in his own right in November of 1982, then re-elected twice.

In January of 1995, Governor James Baxter Hunt, Jr. appointed Burley Bayard Mitchell, Jr. as Chief Justice of the NC Supreme Court, replacing Chief Justice James Gooden Exum, Jr., who retired on January 1, 1995. He served as Chief Justice until 1999.

As of 2015, Burley Bayard Mitchell, Jr. is an Attorney with the firm Womble & Carlyle in Raleigh, NC. Also in 2015, he joined the Board of Directors for the John W. Pope Center for Higher Education Policy.

Honors:

- 1995, North Carolina State University; Doctor of Laws (Honorary)
- 1998, Campbell University; Doctor of Humane Letters
- 2012, William Peace University (Honorary)


Early Years/Education:

Son of Burley Bayard Mitchell and Dorothy Ford Champion. Attended Raleigh Public Schools; B.A. Cum Laude North Carolina State University 1966; J.D. University of North Carolina School of Law 1969; Senior Appellate Judges Seminar, New York University School of Law and Institute of Judicial Administration 1984 and 1988.

Professional Background:

NC Supreme Court Chief Justice 1995-1999.

NC Supreme Court Associate Justice 1982-1995. Appointed in 1982, elected. Re-elected twice.

Secretary, NC Department of Crime Control and Public Safety 1979-1982.

Judge, NC Court of Appeals 1977-1979.

District Attorney, 10th Judicial District 1972-1977.

Assistant Attorney General of North Carolina 1969-1972.

Admitted to practice law before the US Supreme Court, US Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, and all state and federal courts in North Carolina.

Organizations:

Chair, Governor's Advisory Board on Prisons and Punishment 1989-1992; Chair, Governor's Crime Commission 1977-1979; NC Courts Commission 1983-?; NC News Media Administration of Justice Council 1976-1986; NC State University, Graduate School Board of Advisors 1992-?

Honors and Awards:

Outstanding Young Man of the Year, City of Raleigh 1975; Freedom Guard Award for Community, Religious, and Governmental Activities, NC Jaycees 1974-1975; NC National Guard Citizenship Award 1982; Who's Who in America; Outstanding Alumnus, NC State University 1990; Honorary Doctor of Human Letters, NC State University 1995; Law and Order Award, Federalist Society, Campbell University 1996; Outstanding Alumnus, UNC-Chapel Hill School of Law 1996.

Military Service:

US Navy, 7th Fleet, Asia, 1958-1962.

Personal Information:

Married to Mary Lou Willett of Raleigh on August 3, 1962. Children - David Bayard and Catherine Morris.


Burley Mitchell, Jr. is an American jurist and former Chief Justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court. At age 15, Mitchell dropped out of high school to join the United States Marine Corps, only to be kicked out when his age was discovered. He went on to earn a bachelor's degree from North Carolina State University and his Law degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

A veteran of the United States Navy, Mitchell served as an Assistant Attorney General of North Carolina from 1969-1972 and as a District Attorney from 1972-1977. He was a Judge of the North Carolina Court of Appeals from 1977 to 1979, when Governor Jim Hunt appointed Mitchell as his Secretary of Crime Control and Public Safety.

Justice Mitchell served as an Associate Justice of the NC Supreme Court from 1982 to 1995 and as Chief Justice from 1995 to 1999. Gov. Hunt appointed Mitchell to the office of chief justice in late 1994 to take the place of the retiring James G. Exum. In 1996, Mitchell was elected to the post in the general election, defeating Republican Ray Warren.

As a judge, Mitchell wrote 484 decisions, including the landmark Leandro v. State of North Carolina case regarding educational opportunities for all North Carolina children. He was also well known for reducing the court's backlog.

Mitchell retired and joined the law firm of Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice PLLC. He has also served as a member of the Board of Trustees for North Carolina State University, as a member of the University of North Carolina system board of governors, and as chairman of U.S. Senator Kay Hagan's advisory panel on federal judicial nominees.

In 2006, Mitchell helped found a so-called 527 group called FairJudges.net, which aimed to educate North Carolina voters about state appellate judicial candidates.

In 2007, Mitchell received the North Carolina Award for public service.


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