Janna Allison was sworn in on January 2, 2024, as the inaugural Chief Public Defender for the new 43rd Defender District. The oath of office was administered by the Honorable Roy Wijewickrama, Chief District Court Judge for Judicial District 43, at the Swain County Courthouse in Bryson City; her husband, Daryl Kuykendall, held the Bible.
Defender District 43, created in 2023 by North Carolina legislative action, covers Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Haywood, Jackson, Macon, and Swain counties.
Born and raised in Canton, North Carolina, Allison earned her undergraduate degree in Business Administration and Law from Western Carolina University in 1996 and graduated from Oklahoma City University School of Law in 1998. She has been practicing law since 1999. Prior to that, she was a paralegal for 12 years.
After law school, Allison practiced with Russell McLean, III for several months before starting her own practice which consisted of court appointed and retained criminal, parent DSS, child support, and juvenile cases. She became a Board-Certified Specialist in State Criminal Law in 2006 and is on the Capital Roster as Associate Counsel.
Allison has been an Assistant Public Defender in Buncombe County since 2010.
Her passion is indigent criminal defense.
“From the time that I decided that I wanted to be an attorney as a little girl, my passion for poor people charged with crimes has not changed. I cannot imagine doing anything else,” she said. “I am excited about this new chapter and look forward to building a team to represent indigent defendants in my home district.”
Allison is a quilter and made two Quilts of Valor for graduates of Veteran’s Treatment Court in Buncombe County, and donated quilts for door prizes at Veteran’s Appreciation Day at the Sonoma Masonic Lodge in Canton, North Carolina for several years.
She lives in Canton with her husband, Daryl.