In 1963, the United States Supreme court ruled unanimously in the case of Gideon v. Wainwright, that states are required to provide legal counsel to indigent defendants charged with a felony. It would take North Carolina officials seven years to determine that the best way to comply with this ruling was for the state to employ full-time, highly trained, professional, criminal defense attorneys to represent indigent criminal defendants. In 1970, North Carolina Governor, Robert Scott appointed Wallace Harrelson, as the first Public Defender in the State of North Carolina and established Guilford County as the site of the state’s first public defender office. From 1970 – 2011, Mr. Harrelson built a staff of outstanding trial lawyers, investigators and administrative assistants dedicated to his belief that every person, regardless of the accusation against them, deserves a thorough defense to protect their rights and to rigorously challenge the State’s case against them.
Today, Chief Public Defender Fred Lind and his staff of 29 attorneys, 4 investigators and 8 administrative assistants provide expert criminal law representation to over 5,000 indigent individuals each year charged with criminal allegations ranging from juvenile delinquency to capital murder and collateral issues ranging from mental health concerns to oppressive court costs and fees. Mr. Lind and his staff continue to zealously pursue the original mission of the Guilford County Public Defender’s office by striving to preserve society’s interest in the fair administration of justice by providing high quality, passionate, advocacy to indigent clients using superior legal knowledge, preparation and trial skills.
There are now two offices that serve the county: one is at the New Guilford County Courthouse in downtown Greensboro, and the other is at the High Point Courthouse in downtown High Point.
Greensboro Office: (336) 412-7777
The Greensboro Public Defender’s Office is located at the Guilford County Courthouse in downtown Greensboro.
High Point Office: (336) 822-6723
The High Point Public Defender’s Office is located at the courthouse in downtown High Point.