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2023 Defender Trial School

July 10 - July 14

We are excited to announce that the 2023 Defender Trial School, cosponsored by the School of Government and the North Carolina Office of Indigent Defense Services, will be held Monday, July 10 through Friday, July 14 at the School of Government. The program will offer approximately 28 hours of general CLE credit and qualifies for NC State Bar criminal law specialization credit.

Participants will use their own cases to develop a cohesive theory of defense at trial and apply that theory through all stages of a trial, including voir dire, opening and closing arguments, and direct and cross-examination.

We are also excited to let you know that IDS has expanded the number of fellowships (scholarships) available to attend the Trial School. Please review the information below before registering, including the registration deadlines, and the instructions about obtaining a fellowship.


The Defender Trial School is open to public defenders and, space permitting, private attorneys who perform a significant amount of appointed work.

Because space is limited at the Trial School, public defenders must receive approval from their Chief Public Defenders prior to registering. You do not need to send us anything formal from your chief defender, but please obtain approval before registering.


Unlike other programs, you need to attend all of the sessions. The sessions build on one another, and by the end of the program, you will have developed a comprehensive strategy for trying your case.


The program will be held Monday, July 10, through Friday, July 14, at the School of Government on the UNC-Chapel Hill campus. Check-in is on Monday from 8:00am to 8:45am, and the program ends at 1:00pm on Friday. Lunch is available in the building on each day of the program except Friday. The agenda is available on the course page.


There is no registration fee for IDS employees. If you are interested in attending, register as soon as possible. Although the registration deadline is 5:00 pm on Friday, June 23, registration is on a first-come, first-served basis, and all spots may be taken in advance of this deadline.

To register online, as well as to find directions and other program information, visit https://www.sog.unc.edu/courses/defender-trial-school. After you register, stay on the lookout for two emails: the first will confirm that you signed up, and the second will confirm that your registration is accepted.

Note that the registration system requires one unique email address per profile created, so each person from your office who plans to attend must register separately using an individual email address. Since we correspond with participants primarily through email, ensure your email address is current.


A limited number of scholarships are available for private assigned counsel and contract attorneys. If you are interested in applying, click here to complete the scholarship application. If you receive a scholarship, the registration fee of $750 is waived. You are responsible for your own travel, food and lodging expenses. Scholarships are awarded no later than two weeks after application submission. Please apply as soon as possible, as scholarships are awarded on a first-come, first-served basis.


This program differs from others that you may have attended. Although you will be working from a hypothetical case in the plenary sessions, you will spend most of your time in small groups working on your cases. The Guide for Participants explains the type of case you need to bring. Please review this guide carefully and, if your application for the program is accepted, submit the Case Summary form by 5:00 p.m. on June 28, 2023.


A block of rooms is available at Hyatt Place Chapel Hill/Southern Village (3690 S Columbia Street, Chapel Hill, NC) with a rate of $104 plus taxes and fees valid for stay dates of July 9-14, 2023. The rate includes complimentary breakfast, parking, and free internet. To reserve a room, book here or call the hotel directly at 800-233-1234 and mention group code ” G-DTSG” or “Defender Trial School.” The hotel reservation deadline is June 11, 2023.

IDS has approved this program for travel reimbursement for state employees at the state rate in accordance with state rules and regulations. Expense allowance information for this program is forthcoming. For all questions regarding travel reimbursement, contact Amy Ferrell—Accounting Supervisor at IDS—at 919.890.1660 or Amy.M.Ferrell@nccourts.org.


If you have any logistical questions or need additional information, contact Program Manager Kayla Fowler at kfowler@sog.unc.edu. If you have content questions, contact Bob Burke at oldhoopster@hotmail.com.

The School of Government is committed to equality of educational opportunity. The School does not discriminate in offering access to its educational programs and activities on the basis of race, color, gender, age, national origin, religion, creed, disability, veteran’s status, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. If you have a disability and need an accommodation to participate in any School of Government program, please let us know.


July 10
July 14


UNC School of Government
400 South Rd.
Chapel Hill, 27599 United States
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