Because of chronic underfunding, existing legal aid programs in North Carolina have long been unable to meet the need of low-income people for legal assistance in cases involving basic human needs.  As the number of low-income people needing legal assistance has continued to increase, court, bar, and community leaders in North Carolina have worked to develop new methods and strategies to address this growing need.

In November 2005, shortly before his retirement from the bench, Chief Justice I. Beverly Lake, by order of the state Supreme Court, established the North Carolina Equal Access to Justice Commission, making North Carolina the 19th state to establish such an entity.  The mission of the Commission is to expand access to civil legal representation for people of low income and modest means in North Carolina.

The 25-member Commission was structured to include representative stakeholders from across the state, to reflect the diversity of ethnic, gender, legal, and geographic communities of North Carolina and to be chaired by the Chief Justice. Commission members included representatives of the judiciary, legal aid programs, law schools, general public, state government, philanthropic organizations, business communities, and client communities, as well as practicing lawyers.

Commission Meetings

The next meeting of the North Carolina Equal Access to Justice Commission will be on Thursday, January 12 beginning at 10:30am at the North Carolina Judicial Center, 901 Corporate Center Drive, Raleigh.

For more information, contact Jennifer Lechner at lechner@ncequalaccesstojustice.org.

Commission Members

Name Community Represented
The Honorable Mark Martin, Chair
Chief Justice, North Carolina Supreme Court
Supreme Court
The Honorable Cheri Beasley,Vice-Chair
Associate Justice, North Carolina Supreme Court
Supreme Court
The Honorable Richard Dietz
Judge, North Carolina Court of Appeals
Court of Appeals
The Honorable J. Carlton “J.C.” Cole
Superior Court Judge, Judicial District 1 (Camden, Chowan, Currituck, Dare, Gates, Pasquotank, and Perquimans Counties)
Member-At-Large/Superior Court
The Honorable Michael R. Morgan
Associate Justice, North Carolina Supreme Court
Supreme Court
The Honorable Jan H. Samet
District Court Judge, District 18 (Guilford County)
District Court
The Honorable Lisa Y. Johnson-Tonkins
Clerk of Superior Court, Guilford County
Clerk of Court or Administrative Office of the Courts
McKinley Wooten
Deputy Director, Program Services
Administrative Office of the Courts
Clerk of Court or Administrative Office of the Courts
Gabriel Jiménez
Partner/Founder, Jiménez Law Offices
Law Schools
Dean J. Rich Leonard
Dean, Campbell Law
Law Schools
Ronald L. Gibson
Partner, Ruff Bond Cobb Wade & Bethune L.L.P.
Practicing Lawyers
Afi Johnson-Parris
Attorney, Ward Black Law
Practicing Lawyers
Alan Parry
Partner, Parry Tyndall White
Practicing Lawyers
Elizabeth D. Scott
Partner, Williams Mullen
Practicing Lawyers
Julian H. Wright, Jr.
Attorney, Robinson Bradshaw & Hinson, P.A.
Practicing Lawyers
Joy Vermillion Heinsohn
Assistant Director, Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation
Philanthropy Community
Christin Coan
Senior Counsel, ChannelAdvisor
Business Community
Ann Warren
Associate General Counsel, Duke Energy
Business Community
Jim Barrett
Executive Director, Pisgah Legal Services
Legal Aid Programs
Barbara Degen
Western Regional Manager, Legal Aid of North Carolina
Legal Aid Programs
William P. Farthing Jr.
Retired of Counsel, Parker Poe
President, Board of Directors, Legal Services of Southern Piedmont
Legal Aid Programs
Rick Glazier
Executive Director, NC Justice Center
Legal Aid Programs
Charles Holton
Director, Duke Civil Justice Clinic
Former Member, Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice LLP
Former Board Chair, Legal Aid of North Carolina
Legal Aid Programs
vacant Governor of North Carolina
vacant North Carolina Senate
Representative Justin Burr
Representative, NC House District 67
North Carolina House of Representatives
Sam Cone
Financial Consultant, Pinsker Wealth Management
David W. Hood
Partner, Patrick, Harper & Dixon, LLP
Robert C. Kemp, III
Chief Public Defender, District 3A, Pitt County
The Honorable Linda Stephens
Former Associate Judge, North Carolina Court of Appeals

Special Advisors

Name  Community Represented
Marion Cowell
Former Of Counsel, Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP
 Business Community
Anita Earls
Executive Director, Southern Coalition for Social Justice
 Practicing Lawyers
George V. Hanna III
Member, Moore & Van Allen
 Practicing Lawyers
George R. Hausen, Jr.
Executive Director, Legal Aid of North Carolina
 Legal Aid Programs
John McMillan
Shareholder, Manning Fulton
 Practicing Lawyers
Kenneth Schorr
Executive Director, Legal Services of Southern Piedmont
 Legal Aid Programs

Commission Documents