Big news:  Both the North Carolina Supreme Court and Court of Appeals have voted to approve an appellate pro bono program that has been in the works for many months.  The initial training session for volunteers will be held April 13 at the Court of Appeals building in Raleigh.  The website for the program is up and running, and a full description of the program can be found here.

Of course, the Office of Indigent Defense Services has long provided excellent representation to those with a right to appellate counsel who cannot afford a private lawyer.  Others, however, have for the most part been required to proceed pro se.

Not any more.  Now, if one of our appellate courts identifies an indigent party in need of counsel in a case presenting a non-frivolous issue, the clerk’s office may contact the Appellate Practice Section of the North Carolina Bar Association for assignment of a panel volunteer.  Our section has been hard at work this year developing an internal, fair process for managing a panel of potential pro bono volunteers.  Those who undergo the program’s new training regimen and otherwise qualify will be given the opportunity to accept the representation.  The volunteering attorney will prepare the necessary brief(s) and, in most cases, deliver an oral argument on behalf of the indigent client.

Sound like something you would be interested in?  Please review the program description and let us know if you might be willing to serve the public and our courts in this way.

I would be remiss not to mention the massive investment of time and resources that so many have devoted to this project, including Judge Richard Dietz, Judge Linda Stephens, Troy Shelton, Mark Hiller, Sylvia Novinsky, and many others.  Thank you for your service to those most in need.

–Matt Leerberg