A Note from the Director
When the NC Pro Bono Resource Center was founded, we began by providing up to date listings of pro bono opportunities for attorneys in NC. We also sought to identify unmet legal needs, convene relevant stakeholders, and identify ways private attorneys could respond in meaningful ways. We still continue these activities, and we are excited to announce a new activity in which volunteer attorneys can engage.
I began meeting with the following people to discuss the creation of a pro bono appellate program for North Carolina: Judge Richard Dietz; Judge Linda Stephens; Troy Shelton, co-chair of the pro bono committee of the North Carolina Bar Association's Appellate Practice Section; and Matt Wunsche, appellate counsel for the North Carolina Guardian ad Litem program. The reasons for creating such a program are many: the increase in number of self-represented litigants in our appellate courts, the difficulty administering justice in pro se cases because of an inadequate appellate record or imprecise legal arguments, and availability of successful models of appellate pro bono programs from other states that can be replicated in North Carolina. The group reviewed programs in other states, and proposed a pro bono appellate program that was adopted by both the Court of Appeals of North Carolina and the Supreme Court of North Carolina.
In a nutshell, cases appealed to the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals that meet the following criteria may be eligible to be assigned to a pro bono attorney:
- The appeal involves one or more pro se litigants who would qualify for in forma pauperis status, as set out in N.C. 1-288, regardless of whether the litigant has applied for in forma pauperis status;
- The appeal presents at least one non-frivolous issue; and
- The pro se litigant consents to be represented by a pro bono attorney and an attorney, chosen from a list maintained by the NCBA's Appellate Practice Section, consents to represent the litigant free of charge.
Please be on the lookout for more information about the NC Appellate Pro Bono Program. This is just one example of how the NC Pro Bono Resource Center helps to find additional ways for NC attorneys to give back to our state.
-- Sylvia Novinsky,
Director, NC Pro Bono Resource Center