Alumna confirmed as U.S. Attorney for North Carolina Middle District

Alumna confirmed as U.S. Attorney for North Carolina Middle District
Tuesday, November 23, 2021

The U.S. Senate has confirmed UNC Charlotte alumna Sandra J. Hairston ’81 as U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of North Carolina, making history in selecting her the first Black woman to serve as the district’s top prosecutor.

Hairston earned a bachelor’s degree in English from UNC Charlotte; she completed a Juris Doctor from the North Carolina Central University School of Law in 1987. Since March, she has served as acting U.S. attorney in the North Carolina Middle District, which covers 24 counties, including Guilford, Forsyth, Durham, Surry and Scotland counties.

President Joe Biden nominated Hairston, Michael Easley Jr. and Dena King for U.S. Attorney positions in North Carolina along with nominees for positions in other states. U.S. Senators Richard Burr and Thom Tillis had recommended the nominees, and the Senate unanimously confirmed them on Nov. 19.

 Hairston is described as a dedicated public servant who has earned respect. She began her legal career in 1987 as an assistant district attorney in the 13th Prosecutorial District of North Carolina, then joined the U.S. Attorney’s Office as an assistant U.S. attorney in 1990. Over 30 years of service, she has been deputy chief of the criminal division, lead attorney in the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force section and first assistant U.S. attorney. She also served as chief of the Criminal Division in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina.

 In 2002, Hairston received the Director’s Award from the Executive Office for United States Attorneys for superior performance as an assistant U.S. attorney. She was the 2015 recipient of the Peter S. Gilchrist III Award, given by the Criminal Justice Section of the North Carolina Bar Association to a prosecutor “who exemplifies the highest ideals of the profession.”

The United States attorneys serve as the nation's principal litigators under the direction of the U.S. Attorney General. There are 93 U.S. attorneys throughout the United States, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands. United States attorneys are appointed by, and serve at the discretion of, the president of the United States, with the advice and consent of the U.S. Senate. United States attorneys are the chief federal law enforcement officers of the country within their particular jurisdictions.