September Bar Luncheon Features Dr. Chris Cooper of WCU

Join us for a virtual September Bar Luncheon on September 9th to hear from Dr. Chris Cooper, Madison Distinguished Professor and Head of the Department of Political Science & Public Affairs at Western Carolina University. Cooper will talk about the state of play in North Carolina politics in 2020 from a political science perspective, with particular attention to the western part of the state. Click here for more information.

eCourts Guide & File Launching August 31 for Attorneys and Self-Represented Litigants

Launching statewide in all counties on August 31, eCourts Guide & File allows self-represented litigants and attorneys to prepare court documents online for free in 3 easy steps.

eCourts Guide & File logo draft

  1. Answer online questions
    to prepare the case filing
  2. Automatically create legal
    documents for free
  3. Print documents to file
    with the clerk of court

Guide & File will be announced to the public August 31We are excited to offer you this special sneak preview so that you can help us spread the word about this transformative service when it launches for the public next week.

Guide & File is the first component to launch as part of the Judicial Branch’s multi-year effort with Tyler Technologies to transform North Carolina’s court system with an integrated case management system (ICMS).

Under the leadership of Chief Justice Cheri Beasley, North Carolina’s Judicial Branch continues to make great strides in improving access to justice for all North Carolinians. With free, 24/7 online access and easy-to-understand interview questions, Guide & File will eliminate barriers and simplify the legal process for hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians who come to our courts each year without the assistance of an attorney.

This online document preparation not only improves access to our courts, it will also bring improved efficiency and safety for our court personnel during the continuing COVID-19 pandemic. Guide & File walks users through the interview process to ensure paperwork is procedurally correct, legible, and complete. This decreases the time anyone needs to spend at the clerk’s office completing forms and minimizes processing delays resulting from insufficient paperwork.

eCourts Video Play Button

Working much like popular tax preparation software, this web-based tool guides users through a series of questions (an interview) to generate court forms that are ready to be printed and then mailed to or filed at the courthouse. We hope that you will familiarize yourself with how Guide & File works, the case types available, and see how much it has to offer self-represented litigants, paralegals, and attorneys.

Case Types Available

  • Absolute Divorce
  • Adult Name Change
  • Domestic Violence Protective Order
  • Motion to Claim Exempt Property
  • Petition to Proceed as an Indigent
  • Probate
    • Year’s Allowance
    • Summary Administration
    • Small Estate Administration
  • Small Claims
    • Money Owed
    • Repossession of Personal Property
  • Summary Ejectment
    • Complaint in Summary Ejectment
    • Tenant’s Answer and Counterclaims
    • Appeal to District Court
  • More case types are in development


Once completed, users will print their forms and submit them for filing at the clerk of court’s office or via mail as they do currently. As the integrated case management system becomes available in each county over the next four years, users will be able to file their forms electronically through Guide & File. Until then, all forms must be printed and then filed either in-person or via mail (encouraged during COVID-19). While the Guide & File service is free, the standard filing fees do apply.

Guide & File Fact Sheet FINAL

Resources and Fact Sheet

Anyone with internet access can use the service anytime, anywhere at

See the Guide & File fact sheet for details.

Users will be able to access Tyler Technologies’ How-To Video, FAQs, and Technical Support through the Guide & File site for instructions and any issues that arise. Please note that these are general materials and not specific to North Carolina.

While configuration of the new case management system continues, Guide & File is available August 31 to users in all counties statewide.


Nominations to fill a vacancy for the Office of Public Defender of Defender District 28 will be made at a meeting of the Buncombe County Bar on August 31, 2020, for a term of office beginning the first day of October, 2020. Notice is hereby given, pursuant to N.C.G.S. 7A-498.7 and Article VII of the Bylaws of the Buncombe County Bar, of a special meeting of the Buncombe County Bar, for the purpose of determining nominations to submit to the Senior Resident Superior Court Judge in District 28 to fill this vacancy.


Voting shall be limited to members of the Buncombe County Bar resident in the defender district who are licensed to practice law in North Carolina and who are in attendance at the online meeting hosted via Zoom. The Zoom meeting invitation will be sent to the email address on file with the North Carolina State Bar prior to the meeting. Before nominations begin, the Bar shall decide by majority vote whether two or three persons shall be nominated.  Nominations may be received from the floor from any member authorized to vote. Voting shall be by written ballot via the Zoom polling software, and each voting member shall be entitled to vote for one candidate.  Ballots marked for more than one candidate will not be counted.  The two or three candidates, as previously determined, receiving the highest number of votes cast shall be the nominees.

The votes shall be counted under the direction of the presiding officer and the results announced at the meeting.  The Senior Resident Superior Court Judge shall appoint the Public Defender from among the District Bar nominees and one name submitted by the Director of the Administrative Office of the Courts after consultation with the Director of the Office of Indigent Defense Services.

If you need assistance accessing the meeting online or if you have questions, please email them to the Bar Administrator at, or mail them to P.O. Box 7391, Asheville, NC 28802.

NCIDS Introduces New Public Defense Portal

From the North Carolina Office of Indigent Defense Services:

We’re excited to introduce a new streamlined communications platform for IDS communications that will save you time and eliminate clutter from your inbox.

Beginning August 17, 2020, we are asking all public defense attorneys to sign up for communications from the new Public Defense Portal at Registration will only take a few minutes. Once registered, you will:

  • Be notified about urgent issues, including those resulting from the
    COVID-19 pandemic, that may affect you.
  • Receive personalized information relevant to your legal practice.
  • Keep updated on issues relevant to your public defense community.
  • Learn about the CLE programs you need near you.
  • Help IDS advocate on your behalf more effectively.
  • Save your time. Once all attorneys have signed up in the Portal, IDS will stop bombarding you with duplicate emails from multiple sources.
IDS Portal Ticket

For the Portal to be a success, we ask that every North Carolina public defense attorney (private or state employed) be signed into the Portal by October 1, 2020. If you sign up in the Portal by October 1, you will be entered into a drawing for a chance to win a free CLE program of your choice.

While the Portal will become the primary means of communication from IDS, it will not replace the listservs that IDS maintains for the public defense community. Listservs provide public defense attorneys the means to communicate with each other on important issues and IDS will continue to support this important function.

Sign up in the new Public Defense Portal at

With gratitude and appreciation,

Mary S. Pollard
Executive Director
Office of Indigent Defense Services

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