North Carolina

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All data is current as of 2013, unless otherwise noted.
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Read about a particular aspect of the right to counsel in North Carolina by clicking on the heading for that issue. Or [Expand All] to see and print from one location all of the facts about the right to counsel in North Carolina, then [Collapse All] whenever you need to do so.

How the right to counsel is administered and structured
State commission: yes – limited authority
Branch of government: judicial

The North Carolina Office of Indigent Defense Services (IDS) is a judicial branch agency that oversees the provision of right to counsel services throughout the state. An independent 13-member Indigent Defense Services Commission governs IDS and has authority to promulgate standards related to training, attorney qualifications, and attorney performance, among others. The commission is appointed by diverse authorities: Chief Justice (1 appointee, current or retired judge); Governor (1 – non-attorney); President Pro Tempore of the Senate (1 attorney); Speaker of the House of Representatives (1 attorney); North Carolina Public Defenders Association (1 attorney); North Carolina State Bar (1 attorney); North Carolina Bar Association (1 attorney); North Carolina Academy of Trial Lawyers (1 attorney); North Carolina Association of Black Lawyers (1 attorney); North Carolina Association of Women Lawyers (1 attorney); and the Commission itself (3, one non-attorney, one judge, and one Native American).

IDS does not have authority to decide the service delivery methods that will be used in each district, and so the commission is classified as having limited authority. The authority to determine the delivery model used in each judicial district is a legislative decision with input from local actors (county bars, judiciary, etc.). In those districts that have established a public defender office, the presiding judge of the Superior Court in that district has the authority to hire the chief public defender.

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How the right to counsel is funded
Percentage of state funding: 100%
Percentage of local funding: 0%
Percentage of alternative funding: 0%

The methods used to provide public counsel

The North Carolina Office of Indigent Defense Services (IDS) provides trial-level representation using staff public defenders, assigned counsel, and contract defenders throughout the state. But, the authority to determine the delivery model used in each judicial district is a legislative decision with input from local actors (county bars, judiciary, etc.).

To date, only 16 judicial districts have established public defender offices. The presiding judge of the Superior Court in each district has the authority to hire the chief public defender for that district.

In 2011, the state legislature directed IDS to begin moving away from assigned counsel representation to contract representation, and, as of the summer of 2014, 18 counties provide services through contracts.

IDS also houses centralized statewide representation units: appellate defender, office of parent representation, capital defender, and the juvenile defender.

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Legal authority
North Carolina Constitution, art. I, § 23

North Carolina General Statutes, §§ 7A-498.1 through 7A-499

Source of data: original research conducted by Sixth Amendment Center staff augmented by the North Carolina Commission on Indigent Defense Services, Report to the General Assembly, March 2014