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Community Focused. Justice Driven.

About Judge Mitchell

Judge Dorothy Hairston Mitchell was born in Lawton, Oklahoma, but primarily raised in both Stokes and Forsyth Counties here in North Carolina.  She is the daughter of native North Carolinians, father Brian K. Hairston and step-mother, Brenda J. Hairston and mother, the late Yun O Kim, an immigrant from Seoul, Korea.  She has one sister, two brothers, three nieces and six nephews. Dorothy established her roots in Durham, North Carolina in 1995 as a young college student. She has been married to Casey L. Mitchell for sixteen years. They are the proud parents of two young sons. Judge Mitchell and her family are active members of NOW Church and in other community organizations.


Legal Work Experience

Judge Mitchell has been a North Carolina licensed attorney since 2003.  However, she has worked in different capacities in various law firms since she was sixteen years old.  Immediately after law school, she spent ten years in private practice representing clients in the areas of Criminal Law, Family Law, Juvenile Delinquency, Juvenile Abuse, Neglect, and Dependency, Workers’ Compensation, Personal Injury, and Bankruptcy.  The bulk of her practice was devoted to representing indigent persons, particularly in Juvenile Law.  In February of 2013, she joined the Durham County Public Defender’s Office, where she primarily represented parents in Abuse, Neglect, and Dependency cases. She also served as the defense attorney on the Durham County Adult Drug Treatment Court team for nine years. In that capacity, she advocated for and represented persons on probation who suffer from substance abuse issues. She has always had a particular interest in working with juveniles and families where her assistance positively affects their lives. 


Before being appointed to the bench in December 2021, Judge Mitchell was an Associate Clinical Professor and the Supervising Attorney of the Juvenile Law Clinic at NCCU School of Law. She joined the full-time faculty in 2016 but also taught as an adjunct professor for many years before her faculty appointment.  In addition to teaching and supervising law students in the Juvenile Law Clinic, Judge Mitchell taught Criminal Law and Pleadings & Practice, focusing on Abuse, Neglect, and Dependency Law.  She was also the Legal Director at the Center for Child & Family Health and the Director of the NCCU School of Law Social Justice and Racial Equity Institute.  In addition to teaching, Judge Mitchell continued to represent parents at the trial level in Abuse, Neglect, and Dependency matters on a pro bono basis as both a parent attorney and as a Guardian ad Litem for parents.  She also represented parents on appeal of Abuse, Neglect, and Dependency matters.   


In addition to teaching law students, Judge Mitchell has also been teaching paralegal students in the Duke University Continuing Studies Program for almost ten years. In that program, she has taught Family Law for the past seven years and previously taught Essential Skills and Real Estate.



B.A. Political Science/English, North Carolina Central University,                                      May, 1999       Cum Laude Graduate 


J.D. North Carolina Central University School of Law                                                          May, 2002 

Judge Mitchell is a proud “double Eagle!” She attended North Carolina Central University (NCCU), where she received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and English.  As an undergraduate student, she competed in the Model United Nations and served as the college liaison for several state-wide campaigns.  She was often recognized for her leadership on campus and in the community.


Upon completion of her undergraduate degree, she attended NCCU School of Law.  As a law student, she served as Class President, and she competed on the Trial Team. She won several awards for her trial advocacy and leadership skills.  

Community Engagement

Judge Mitchell has volunteered as a judge for the Durham County Teen Court since 2003.  She frequently teaches Continuing Legal Education courses to other lawyers and judges with the NC School of Government and other entities.  She is also the Vice-Chair of the Global Scholars Academy Board of Directors and is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.


Judge Mitchell has represented Durham County as a North Carolina State Bar Councilor since 2017, where she serves on many committees.  She is the Chair of the NC Indigent Defense Services Commission and has been a commissioner since 2016.  She has served on the Durham County Bar Association and the 16th (formerly 14th) Judicial District Bar Association board since 2007. She previously served as president, vice president, and secretary, and she currently serves as a board director on the board of directors. She is the Vice President of the George H. White Bar Association.


Judge Mitchell is also an active member of the North Carolina Association of Women Attorneys and the Durham Orange Women Attorneys (DOWA).


Judge Mitchell frequently volunteers in the community with her family and church.  

Areas of Practice


28 years of Legal Experience with almost 19 years in Practice as a Licensed Attorney

Criminal Law
Family Law
Juvenile Delinquency
Juvenile Abuse Neglect
Workers’ Compensation
Personal Injury

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