In 2006, the General Assembly added Article 92 to G.S. Chapter 15A, creating the North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission (Innocence Commission) and establishing “an extraordinary procedure to investigate and determine credible claims of factual innocence.” G.S. 15A-1461. These provisions authorize the Innocence Commission to investigate claims of innocence and refer meritorious cases for hearing by a special three-judge panel appointed by the Chief Justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court. G.S. 15A-1469(a). Priority is given to cases in which the convicted person is currently incarcerated for the crime for which he or she claims factual innocence. G.S. 15A-1466(2). In cases in which a convicted person was found guilty after trial, five of the eight commission members must find sufficient evidence of factual innocence to warrant referral of the case to a three-judge panel; in cases in which a person was convicted on a guilty plea, all eight members of the commission must so find. G.S. 15A-1468(c). If the Innocence Commission refers a case to a three-judge panel and the panel unanimously finds that the convicted person has proven by clear and convincing evidence that he or she is innocent of the charges, the panel must dismiss the charges. G.S. 15A-1469(h).

The website of the Innocence Commission contains additional information about the process. For a further discussion of proceedings before the Innocence Commission, see Julie Ramseur Lewis & John Rubin, North Carolina Defender Manual, Vol. 2 Trial, § 35.8, Innocence Inquiry Commission (UNC School of Government, May 2020).