Katherine Burnette is the incumbent district court judge for the Ninth Judicial District of North Carolina (Franklin, Granville, Person, Vance, and Warren Counties) and is a North Carolina native.

Burnette graduated cum laude from Wake Forest University in 1981 with a BA in both English and politics. She contributed to the Old Gold and Black Newspaper and the Wake Forest Literary Magazine. In 1984 she graduated from the Wake Forest University School of Law and was editor of The Jurist magazine. She clerked for the Hon. Eugene H. Phillips, N.C. Court of Appeals before working for two private practice firms. She was recently awarded her Master of Fine Arts in creative writing, fiction, from Queens University of Charlotte in 2019.

In 1989, after her marriage to Tom (Wake Forest Univ. School of Law ’84), she moved to Oxford and continued working for the Winston-Salem-based firm Craig Brawley Liipfert and Ross on complex federal civil litigation in the Eastern District of North Carolina. Thereafter, she clerked for the Hon. A. Thomas Small, chief bankruptcy judge in the Eastern District of North Carolina, and then enjoyed private practice for a number of years in the areas of bankruptcy, civil litigation, criminal law, and family law. She joined the DA’s office for the Ninth District in 2002.

Burnette has practiced law in North Carolina for over 34 years, in state and federal courts, and has experience in family law, criminal law, and bankruptcy law as well as civil and commercial litigation. She served as an assistant district attorney (ADA) for the then ninth (now eleventh) prosecutorial District from 2002-07. As an ADA, she prosecuted misdemeanor and felony cases including several jury trials prosecuting persons charged with sex offenses against children.

In her recent role from 2007-11, as an assistant United States attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina, Burnette received two national service awards for her work in financial litigation, as the civil division’s financial litigation attorney, primarily in the recovery of restitution for crime victims.

From 2011-18, Katherine served the Violent Crimes Division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office where she participated in multiple criminal trials and prosecutions for bank robbery, federal firearms, and controlled substance offenses in North Carolina. Many of the cases involved the efforts of the office to combat the opioid crisis in the eastern district.

In 2018, Katherine was appointed district court judge by North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper where she continues to serve Franklin, Granville, Person, Vance, and Warren counties.

Throughout her career, Katherine has remained a servant leader holding positions on the NC Board of Elections, NC Board of Ethics, and State Personnel Commission. She has directly served her community in Granville County through her church, St. Stephens Episcopal, as a former member of Granville Little Theatre, the Pickwick Papers Book Club, and as a trustee of Kerr-Vance Academy. 

Katherine currently volunteers at J.F. Webb High School in English classes, with Teen Court, and is a member of a writers’ group in Hillsborough. She recently presented her craft paper on literary characters and opioid addiction, at Books Sandwiched in at the Richard Thornton Library in May 2019. Katherine is a current member of the Granville County Juvenile Crime Prevention Council and was recently a participant judge at the North Carolina Association of Women Attorneys at Duke and UNC Chapel Hill law schools in March 2019. Katherine also presented at Elon School of Law’s forum.