School Launches LL.M. Program
UNC School of Law will soon offer foreign lawyers an opportunity to improve their knowledge of U.S. law and legal process through a one-year master of laws degree (LL.M.) program. Acquiescence of the American Bar Association to the program is expected in January 2011. Professor Michael L. Corrado has been named the inaugural director. Read More
The Honorable Rickye McKoy-Mitchell '84
District Court Judge, 26th Judicial District
Mecklenburg County, N.C.
What do you do in your current position?
I am a district court judge in the 26th Judicial District in Mecklenburg County. As a district court judge for the past 12 years and now entering into my fourth term and thirteenth year on the bench, I have presided in all of the district courts including civil, criminal, domestic violence, domestic and child support, and am currently primarily presiding in juvenile court. I am a certified juvenile court judge and preside over delinquency and youth and family services of the Department of Social Services (foster care) cases hearing motions, hearings and other proceedings. I also am the lead judge for the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges and am the chair of the Model Courts Committee as well as participate on several other committees and task forces as the judicial liaison and the past chair of the Domestic Violence Court Committee.
When you were a law student, what did you think you would end up doing?
I was always keenly aware that I wanted to practice in the public interest sector of law and ultimately desired to become a judge because I wanted to work to make a positive impact upon the lives of people, especially those who seem to face even greater challenges.
What is one of your best memories of Carolina Law?
One of my best memories of Carolina Law was working with the late Professor Dan Pollitt on a constitutional law research paper and being introduced to the late Dr. John Hope Franklin as part of that research by Professor Pollitt. Not only was being in the presence of two such renowned historical experts an unforgettable experience, but also being able to experience the genuineness of their commitment to others left an indelible mark upon my life.
Why do you support Carolina Law?
Carolina Law has always been and continues to be a "change agent" to me. After graduating from UNC-Chapel Hill's undergraduate program, I had been accepted at several law schools and even visited many of them. However, I was always drawn back to Carolina Law because it is not just a "law school." Clearly, Carolina Law is nationally recognized for its academic excellence and distinguished faculty and alumni, but it is Carolina Law's leadership in, contributions to, and partnering with the community for the community's success for which I am most proud. You do not have to look very far to see how Carolina Law, the "change agent," through vehicles such as the Center for Civil Rights with its civil rights and social justice work or its clinical programs with their pro bono work or even individual students and alumni with global efforts achieving positive change, is an effective "change agent."
Who was your favorite professor and why?
Professor Dan Pollitt was my favorite professor because of not only his enormous intellectual acumen, humble spirit and uniquely engaging teaching style but also because of his demonstrated care for and commitment to students and to the community.
What are your current hobbies and interests outside of work?
My current hobbies and interests include doing historical and court-related presentations for school students, especially elementary and other community groups. I also enjoy other crafts, biking, traveling and watching movies.
How often do you make it back to campus?
I come back to campus fairly often as I serve on the board of the Law Alumni Association and participate in events such as alumni presentations, panels and other fellowship events such as homecoming and the Black Alumni Reunion.
What current issues/controversies in law are you watching most closely?
Currently, I am watching closely to see whether there will be a change made in the juvenile justice system regarding the defined "age" for a juvenile. Currently, a young person is primarily treated as an adult for purposes of criminal court once they turn 16 years old. There has, for some time now, been efforts to have the age limit extended to 18 years old for purposes of criminal court. Included among the arguments on this issue are child development and economics.
What are you reading?
I am reading, The Sea Is So Wide and My Boat Is So Small: A Letter to My Grandchildren by Marian Wright Edelman. This book is for both work and pleasure as it provides guidance and encouragement in my efforts to improve the lives of the young people who come before me in Juvenile Court as well as my work in the community. It also further solidifies my belief in service to the community and the difference such service can make in the lives of so many.
If you could visit with any past, famous legal figure, who would it be, and why?
While he probably is named quite often, I would still like to visit with United States Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. Justice Thurgood Marshall's personal and professional experiences as he fought for justice both inside and outside of the courtroom and his experiences during his tenure on the United States Supreme Court would not only provide for enlightenment for me but also for continued encouragement for us all as our community and our world moves forth.