Gates County native sworn in as Judge

Published 4:54 pm Friday, July 22, 2022

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CHARLOTTE – Attorney Shanté Burke-Hayer, a native of Gates County, was officially sworn in to begin her journey as District Court Judge in Charlotte-Mecklenburg County on July 8.

Burke-Hayer ran a successful campaign, emphasizing her dedication to “the people” and desire to provide support for families, children, and communities who are affected by the judicial system daily. Throughout the campaign trail, she was able to connect to the citizens of Charlotte by embodying all the characteristics needed to bring about necessary change within the criminal justice system – impartiality, fairness, empathy, and compassion.

District Court Judge Shanté Burke-Hayer

On Tuesday, May 17, Burke-Hayer won the election and was later appointed to the position by Governor Roy Cooper.

Burke-Hayer graduated from Gates County High School in 2007. She moved to Charlotte to attend UNC-Charlotte, where she received her Bachelor of Arts in English with a double minor in Criminal Justice and Political Science. She received her Juris Doctorate degree in 2014 from the Charlotte School of Law.

Prior to her judicial appointment, Burke-Hayer had well over 10 years of experience in the legal field. A few of her positions range from serving as a law clerk, volunteering as a Guardian Ad Litem, working as a student attorney at the Family Advocacy Clinic, and experience working on one of the legal teams with Wells Fargo, until she landed a position with a family law firm in Charlotte.

In 2017, Burke-Hayer decided to hang her own shingle and go into private practice, where she concentrated in the areas of family law, juvenile law, estate planning and probate, and other civil matters.

Burke-Hayer is highly involved in the community and is affiliated with several professional organizations, such as the NC State Bar, NC Bar Association, Democratic Women of Mecklenburg County, NAACP-Charlotte-Mecklenburg County Branch, and serves an active volunteer for the Wills for Heroes Clinic. She is also a proud member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and currently serves on the Nominating committee, the Delta Growing and Empowering Myself Successfully (GEMS) committee and holds the title of past Parliamentarian.

Moreover, she and her husband are the current leaders of the marriage ministry at Ebenezer Baptist Church (EBC), where she also serves as the President of the EBC Mass Choir. She is the former co-owner of Ladies Leading Initiatives (LLI), an organization committed to empowering and uplifting women business owners. She is frequently invited to various speaking engagements to address youth groups and other community organizations. In 2019, she returned home and proudly served as the commencement speaker at her alma mater, Gates County High School.

As a Gates County native, Burke-Hayer takes every opportunity to acknowledge and “shout-out” her hometown. She appreciates the education and preparation she received growing up in the county. As a high school student, she was a member of the varsity basketball and volleyball teams, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Senior Beta Club, Student Government Association (SGA), and 4-H. Although resources may have been limited, she utilized what was available to excel academically and gain real world experiences by volunteering in the community. As a result, she learned how to navigate life when faced with challenges and persevere to pursue her dreams. She believes that her small-town beginnings did not hinder her opportunities, but rather opened her eyes to the possibility of greater experiences outside of the county.

Burke-Hayer’s Gates County roots contribute to her ambition, passion, and empathy for others, as well as her desire to represent those from underserved communities. She understands that within her position as judge, she must issue fair decisions regardless of race, ethnicity, gender identity, and other socioeconomic factors. Her empathy and compassion for people from diverse backgrounds directly aligns with her upbringing and what she values as an individual. As a district court judge, Burke-Hayer said she will balance the scales of justice to ensure all people receive a fair and impartial trial.

Shanté is the daughter of Tracy and Allen Costen of Gates, NC. She also has one brother, Allen Costen Jr. (AJ). Shanté is married to her high school sweetheart, Jeffrey Hayer, and they have two beautiful children (Layla & Jackson) and one fur baby. Shanté will represent her hometown well as she embarks on this new judicial pathway.