Defender Trial School

This course is co-sponsored by the Office of Indigent Defense Services.

Participants will use their own cases to develop a cohesive theory of defense at trial and apply that theory through all stages of a criminal trial, including voir dire, opening and closing arguments, and direct and cross-examination. The Guide for Participants explains the type of case to bring and the few steps to take to prepare for the program. 

This program is open to public defenders and, space permitting, private attorneys who perform a significant amount of appointed work.

SCHOLARSHIPS: At this time, all scholarships have been awarded. All applicants have been notified of the status of their application.


Registration for the 2023 Defender Trial School is closed.

For information about other public defense education courses, visit our Public Defense Education site.


Additional information


The agenda can be found here.  

CLE: The program will offer approximately 28 hours of general CLE credit and qualifies for NC State Bar criminal law specialization credit.

TEACHING METHODS: This program is comprised of plenary sessions and intensive small-group workshops. 

PREREQUISITES: This program differs from others that you may have attended. Unlike other programs, you need to attend all of the sessions. 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 own cases. The Guide for Participants explains the type of case you need to bring.

HOTEL INFORMATION: 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.

COVID GUIDELINES: UNC-Chapel Hill and the School of Government are required to follow the University’s Community Standards to help maintain a healthy and safe community. Masks are optional on the UNC-Chapel Hill campus (with exceptions in health care settings and Chapel Hill Transit). We will have masks available for anyone who prefers to wear one while in the building.


General28.00 hrs
Total28.00 hrs
There currently are no scheduled offerings of this course.
For all registration questions, resetting passwords, or login issues please contact:

Dale Zuckert

Assistant Registrar
For questions regarding course details, including location, schedule, materials, and continuing education credits, please contact:

Kayla Fowler

Program Manager, Courts Group
Albert Coates Professor of Public Law and Government