The North Carolina Defender Manual is part of a collection called the North Carolina Indigent Defense Manual Series. The series serves to provide comprehensive, up-to-date reference materials to attorneys who defend indigent clients. The Defender Manual has two volumes: volume one addresses the intricacies of pretrial criminal procedure, while volume two provides materials for the trial level. Each volume includes a complete table of contents at the beginning of the manual, as well as, a more in-depth table of contents at the beginning of each chapter. The Defender Manual is funded by and made available for free online through the North Carolina Office of Indigent Defense Services.
Volume one was authored by John Rubin, also the series editor, and Alyson A. Grine. John Rubin has been with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s School of Government since 1991. He specializes in criminal law and procedure and indigent defense education. Alyson A. Grine has been with the School of Government since 2006 where she serves as defender educator. Volume two was authored by John Rubin and Julie Ramseur Lewis. Ms. Lewis has served as an assistant public defender in Charlotte since 1993.
The first volume has 15 chapters that include the following issues related to pretrial criminal procedure: pretrial release, probable cause hearings, discovery, grand jury proceedings, jurisdiction, venue, suppression motions, and stops and warrantless searches. Case law authority includes decisions through June 30, 2013 and statutory authority, through the end of the 2013 session of the North Carolina General Assembly. Volume two, current through February 2012, includes the following issues related to criminal procedure at the trial stage: personal rights of the defendant, guilty pleas, jury selection, opening statements, closing arguments, and appeals, post-conviction litigation, and writs.
The manual cites to all relevant case law and statutes. It lays out the elements of rules in easy-to-read bullet form and then provides an in-depth explanation of the rule. Throughout the volumes, you will find helpful charts, forms, and other materials. Volume two includes Performance Guidelines for Indigent Representation in Non-Capital Criminal Cases at the Trial Level which acts as a training tool to help practicing attorneys provide quality representation to indigent defendants. Additionally, the manual includes practice notes that provide instruction for problems that may arise during representation. For example, consider the following practice note below:
Volume two includes about twice as many practice notes as volume one. But, unlike volume two, volume one includes legislative notes that detail any changes made to the statutes during the 2013 session.
Because this practice guide is available for free online through the Office of Indigent Defense Services’ website, it has the advantage of providing external links to helpful forms and websites, as exemplified below.
Although it places a special emphasis on indigent clients, the North Carolina Defender Manual is a great resource for any attorney practicing criminal defense. It reads much like one of the many study aids that law students come to know very well. It is a one-stop-shop for the key legal principles and practice pointers at every stage of litigation. The manual also provides checklists, fillable practice forms, sample questions, and many other helpful practice materials. It is a great reference guide for anyone who is interested in criminal law.
~ Lindsey Cox, L’14 ~
Class Advisor – Cory M. Lenz, Esq.