The Appellate Defender maintains a roster of private counsel who are qualified by experience and training to represent indigent clients in non-capital cases on appeal. In order to be considered for addition to the Appellate Defender’s non-capital appeals roster, attorneys must submit a letter of interest, current resume, writing samples, and a completed Appellate Roster Application, available below. Applicants must also submit recommendations.
Once an applicant has submitted all required materials, the Appellate Defender will determine whether the applicant has demonstrated “that he or she is proficient in legal writing and oral advocacy, has the required legal knowledge and skill necessary for appellate representation, and will apply that knowledge and skill with appropriate thoroughness and preparation.” See IDS Rule 3.4. The Appellate Defender’s process to review applications and decide whether to add an applicant to the appellate roster can take several months.
In some instances, the Appellate Defender will require an interview with the applicant, which may be conducted virtually or by phone. If an applicant lacks criminal defense experience, the Appellate Defender might require the applicant to complete certain continuing legal education programs before being added to the roster.
All attorneys who are added to the appellate roster are required to complete the Appellate Foundations course presented by the Office of the Appellate Defender. The course is usually offered once each year, in person, at our office in Durham. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the course was not held in 2020, and was held virtually in 2021. Depending on when a person applies and is added to the roster, it might be several months or up to a year before the next course is offered. Completion of Appellate Foundations is mandatory before a roster attorney can be assigned to represent a client on appeal.
Additional training is required in order to remain on the roster. Pursuant to IDS policy, roster attorneys must attend the Appellate Advocacy Training at the UNC School of Government within two years of being placed on the roster, or receive an extension from the Appellate Defender.
Attorneys interested in representing clients on appeal in capital cases should contact the Appellate Defender’s Office directly for more information on how to apply.