Burley B. Mitchell, Jr. was sworn in as the 24th chief justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court in January, 1995, promising to continue the court’s “great history of protecting rights.”
A Raleigh native, Mitchell graduated from North Carolina State University cum laude and the University of North Carolina School of Law, after serving in the U.S. Navy from 1958 to 1962 as a member of the 7th Fleet, Asia. Mitchell also is a graduate of the Senior Appellate Judges Seminar, New York University School of Law, and the Institute of Judicial Administration.
His career in justice began in 1969, when he became an assistant attorney general of North Carolina. He served as district attorney for the 10th Judicial District (Raleigh) from 1972 to 1977, prior to being appointed to the North Carolina Court of Appeals, where he served until 1979.
He was named secretary of the N.C. Department of Crime Control and Public Safety in 1979 and served in that post until 1982, when he was appointed as an associate justice of the Supreme Court of North Carolina. He was elected to retain his seat in 1982 and reelected in 1984 and 1992.
Governor James B. Hunt, Jr. appointed Mitchell to succeed the former Chief Justice James Exum, who retired in late 1994.
Mitchell’s career of public service includes serving as chair of the Governor’s Advisory Board on Prisons and Punishment; member and chair of the Governor’s Crime Commission; member of the N.C. Courts Commission; and member of the N.C. News Media Administration of Justice Board of Advisors.
He is a past recipient of numerous awards, including the Outstanding Young Man of the Year Award from the City of Raleigh, the Freedom Guard Award of Community, Religious and Governmental Activities from the N.C. Jaycees; the National Guard Citizenship Award; and N.C. State Outstanding Alumnus Award.
Justice Mitchell is married to the former Mary Lou Willett of Raleigh and has two children.