Chief Public Defender Announces Retirement

Dear Buncombe County Bar Members:

It is with great sadness that I am announcing that I am retiring as Chief Public Defender for Buncombe County effective at the end of September, 2020.  My parents are struggling with health and related issues. I need to focus my time and energy on them.

It has been a pleasure and an honor to work in the Buncombe County Public Defender’s Office.   I am thankful that Robert Hufstader hired me as an Assistant Public Defender in April of 1996 and that Judge Dennis Winner first appointed me to lead the Office in January of 2008 when Mr. Hufstader retired.

Members of the local Bar have always been very supportive of our Public Defender Office.  I regret that I cannot list everyone who has assisted in our obtaining our goal of quality public defense. It could not have occurred without the effort of everyone.

The team members of the Buncombe Public Defender Office are passionate about their work and should be proud of all the good work they do every day.

I look forward to being able to spend more time with my parents and to what the future brings. I will always be available to answers questions or lend assistance after my retirement. My cell is 828-279-2539.

LeAnn Melton
Chief Public Defender for the 28th Judicial District

August, 2020 Update from State Bar Councilor Anna Hamrick

Dear Fellow Members of the Buncombe County Bar –

I hope everyone is well. The North Carolina State Bar Council held its Quarterly Meeting last week via Zoom. It was our second Quarterly Meeting held via Zoom, and all committees were able to meet. I would like to share with you some of its highlights. You will get a more detailed report later directly from the Bar.

1. The Ethics Committee approved publication for comment of an amendment to the preamble to the Rules of Professional Conduct that identifies the avoidance of discriminatory conduct as a fundamental value of the profession.

Below is the proposed language. Your opinion matters, and so please consider sending your comments to: Continue reading

UPDATE–Probation Calendar Change

From Senior Resident Superior Court Judge Alan Z. Thornburg:

Yesterday afternoon I learned that a probation officer had been tested for the COVID-19 virus, was concerned about possible exposure and was awaiting test results. In response to this information, I asked that today’s probation matters be continued until next Thursday, July 30th. Pursuant to an inquiry by the district attorney’s office, I learned that no in-custody probationers objected to the postponement.

This afternoon, I learned that the officer who was tested was confirmed positive for the virus. Please see attached the statement of Lori Anderson, Judicial District Manager, Department of Community Corrections, regarding this issue.

Even though, pursuant to Department of Community Corrections protocol, I understand some officers who work on the 12th floor of the courthouse could return to courthouse duty July 29th , I have asked that today’s probation calendar be continued once again to Wednesday August 5th unless other scheduling arrangements are made with all participants to a specific case.

Please also find attached the recent virus protocol guidance issued by Judge Hill and I. Of course, the directives of the governor and the chief justice are clear and easily available. A good rule of thumb is to treat everyone with whom you come into contact as if that person has contracted the virus. Trying to make ongoing calculations as to the risk level of each individual is not fruitful or prudent.

Please share this memorandum as you see fit. Thank you for doing your part and for your understanding with those who are attempting to make decisions in the best interest of public safety and the administration of justice.

Alan Z. Thornburg

Register of Deeds Office Third Floor Closed

From Register of Deeds Drew Reisinger:

Due to a positive case of COVID-19 in the office, our Public Health officials have asked to have our office cleaned and staff quarantined at home while they await test results. We will be closed on Monday and Tuesday (July 20 -21). Our Vital Records Department will be open on Wednesday, July 22nd. Our Recording department will resume eRecording documents, and recording paper documents delivered by mail or put in our drop box outside the office on Wednesday as well. The third floor will be closed to in-person services until further notice. I apologize for the inconvenience and the interruption of our services.

I know many of you care about our employees personally and consider them friends. Our employee who contracted the virus seems to be recovering but still has symptoms.

Stay safe,


Drew Reisinger

Register of Deeds

(828) 250-4315

205 College St – Asheville, NC 28801


Respect. Honesty. Integrity. Collaboration. Equity.

Groundwater Racial Equity Training

The Safety and Justice Challenge Racial Equity workgroup is excited to host the Racial Equity Institute (REI) as they bring one of their trainings, the Groundwater Presentation, to Buncombe County virtually on July 29th. The Groundwater presentation is an introduction to Racial Equity. REI’s trainings are specifically designed to help leaders and organizations who want to both understand and address racism in their communities and within their internal organizations. The Groundwater presentation will help start that process and give an overview of racial equity work. REI presenters “will use stories and data to present a perspective that racism is fundamentally structural in nature. By examining characteristics of modern-day racial inequity, the presentation introduces participants to an analysis that most find immediately helpful and relevant.” Please join us as we learn about how to address Racial Equity in our county and criminal justice system.

To attend the training you must register with Eventbrite. One you register, you will receive an email confirmation with the link to the event page where you will click the play button to be brought into the event once it starts. Please RSVP by July 28th

 REI Groundwater Training Link:

Thursday, July 29, 2020 at 9a-12:00p. To register for this session click here.