Harbinson, Joel C.
Zealous Representation For Six Decades
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Joel C. Harbinson

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Biography

Joel C. Harbinson attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and graduated in 1977 with an A.B. degree and from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Law in 1979 with a J.D. degree. He has been self-employed since 1979 as a criminal, domestic, and personal injury attorney in Taylorsville. In 1979, he began a sole practice in his hometown of Taylorsville after being admitted to the North Carolina State Bar on August 19, 1979. 

Mr. Harbinson is the former President of the 22nd Judicial District Bar Association (1987-1988, 1999-2000) and a member of the  N.C. Bar Association, the N.C. Advocates for Justice, and the Phi Delta Phi international legal fraternity. He has received an "AV Preeminent" rating from Martindale-Hubbell, giving him the highest possible ranking by his fellow attorneys and judges in both competence and ethics. He has also been recognized as one of the Outstanding Lawyers in America and is listed on the Bar Registry of Preeminent Lawyers.

Joel Cline Harbinson is the senior partner of Harbinson & Brzykcy, Attorneys at Law, located in Taylorsville, NC. The law firm engages in a general trial practice with his primary areas of law being Criminal, Domestic, Personal Injury/Wrongful Death, and Medical Malpractice cases.

Harbinson was born February 18, 1954, in Hickory, NC. He is the son of the late Rev. Cline W. Harbinson (1912 1987) and Madeline Campbell Harbinson (1916 2005) and is the father of two sons, Justin and Jarrett. Joel is married to Connie Barrett Harbinson and is the step father of Alexandria Brinkley Corbett. Connie is a 2007 graduate of Catawba Valley Community College with High Honors, a 2008 graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Dental Hygiene with Distinction, and a 2012 graduate of A.T. Still University with a Master’s in Public Health. She is a Registered Dental Hygienist. Justin is a 2007 graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in English with Highest Honors in Creative Writing and a 2010 graduate of the University of San Francisco with a Master’s in Fine Arts in Creative Writing. He is an Associate Professor at Catawba Valley Community College in Hickory, NC in the area of English Composition. Jarrett received a certificate from Alexander Central High School in 2009 having been educated from the TEACCH model for autistic students. Alexandria is a 2009 graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in Psychology and is a legal assistant with the firm in the area of Traffic Offenses. She is the proud mother of a son, Hudson, and a daughter, Blake.

After graduating from Alexander Central High School in 1972, Harbinson attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as a Broyhill Industries Scholar. Joel graduated from UNC in 1977 with an A.B. degree and from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Law in 1979 with a J.D. degree. In 1979, he began a solo practice in his hometown of Taylorsville after being admitted to the North Carolina Bar on August 19, 1979.

Joel is the former President of the 22nd Judicial District Bar Association and is a current member of the N.C. Bar Association, the N.C. Advocates for Justice, and the Phi Delta Phi international legal fraternity. He was admitted to practice in the federal courts of the Western District of North Carolina in 1982.

He has consistently received an “AV Preeminent” rating from Martindale Hubbell every year since 2000, giving him the highest possible ranking by his fellow attorneys and judges in both competence and ethics.

In 2018, Harbinson was selected by NC Lawyers Weekly as one of its 2018 North Carolina “Leaders in the Law.” NC Lawyers Weekly states “these honorees represent the most influential individuals within our state’s legal community; those who have gone above and beyond in their profession and in their community. They are selected by a panel of independent legal professional leaders and peers based on professional accomplishment, personal accomplishment, and community involvement within the Tar Heel State.”

In 2019, Harbinson was selected by the North Carolina Bar Association, in conjunction with the Citizen Lawyer Committee, as one of the 2019 recipients of the Citizen Lawyer Award. The NCBA Citizen Lawyer Award was established in 2007 “to recognize lawyers who provide exemplary public service to their communities. Honorees include elected and appointed government officials, coaches, mentors and voluntary leaders of nonprofit, civic and community organizations.”

On September 26, 2019, Harbinson was honored by N.C. Governor Roy Cooper with initiation into the Society of “The Order of The Long Leaf Pine.” The Order of the Long Leaf Pine is among the most prestigious awards presented by the Governor of North Carolina. It is presented to individuals who have “a proven record of extraordinary service and contributions to the state and their communities ‑‑ as well as exemplary effort in their careers.”

In 2021, Harbinson was first designated by Thomson Reuters as a “Super Lawyer” in the area of Criminal Defense, as one of the Top 100 lawyers in the State of North Carolina. Such recognition is “an honor reserved for those lawyers who exhibit excellence in practice with only 5% of attorneys in North Carolina ever receiving this distinction.”

For over forty years, Harbinson has devoted much of his practice to representing those who qualify for court appointed counsel in serious felony criminal cases. Over his career, he has successfully handled at least a dozen jury trials representing indigent defendants of color charged with sexual offenses, none of which ended in convictions. Consequently, the North Carolina Advocates for Justice asked him to chair a seminar in October of 2017 at their headquarters in Raleigh entitled “Becoming Atticus Finch ‑‑ Representing the Wrongfully Accused in Sexual Assault Cases.”

Harbinson is the former Alexander County Attorney (1982 1986, 1992 1994) Taylorsville Town Attorney (1977 1979) and the Alexander County School Board Attorney (1981 1998, 2013 2020). Also, Joel is a former member of the Alexander County Board of Elections and a former Chairman of the Alexander County Democratic Party. In January of 2017, the Alexander County Democratic Party presented Harbinson with the D.A.D. (Distinguished Alexander Democrat) award for his loyal and dedicated service to the party.

On November 3, 1998, Joel was elected to the office of Board of County Commissioners of Alexander County (the first attorney ever to be elected county commissioner in the history of the county) where he served as Chairman (1998 1999), (2001 2002), and Vice Chairman (2000 2001). In his first term as a commissioner, Joel served on the Executive Board of the Western Piedmont Council of Governments. Although he was an unsuccessful candidate for re election in November, 2002, Joel was elected by the Alexander County Board of Commissioners on June 16, 2003 to serve the unexpired term of David Odom and served until the fall of 2004.

During his term as a county commissioner from 1998 to 2002, Harbinson and his fellow commissioners were instrumental in bringing about the following progress in Alexander County:

  • Converted the junior high schools to middle schools and moved the 9th grade to ACHS with the first major renovation to the high school in 30 years ($8.8 million);
  • Built a new Ellendale Elementary School ($6.4 million);
  • Built a total of 32 new classrooms at West Middle (11), East Middle (11), Sugar Loaf (6), and Stony Point (4) at a cost of $3.95 million;
  • Established the first permanent community college in the county with the construction of Catawba Valley Community College Alexander Center ($1.65 million);
  • Worked with the State to build the Alexander Correctional Institution which is the largest State funded construction project, outside of road construction, in the history of western North Carolina ($80 million in State funds, $1 million in local funds);
  • Worked with the State to build a new juvenile detention center using only State funds ($2.8 million);
  • Built Dusty Ridge Park in the Wittenburg community which is the first multi purpose county recreational facility in southern Alexander County;
  • Obtained over $2 million in state and federal grants to run waterlines in the Little River, Three Forks, Rink Dam Road, Millersville, and Liledoun areas;
  • Instituted county wide zoning for the first time in the history of the county to protect residential areas and promote commercial development;
  • Increased local teacher supplements from 1% to 6%;
  • Increased local funding for education over 40% (more than 10% per year);
  • Built a new animal shelter at the National Guard Armory;
  • Worked with Charter Communications to create the Local Government Channel so that commission meetings could be broadcast;
  • Re structured the Solid Waste enterprise fund such that citizens could dispose of trash free of charge if they re cycled;
  • Brokered an arrangement in which the bankrupt Alexander Community Hospital re opened as Frye Regional Medical Center Alexander Campus;
  • During each year in office, Alexander County was recognized by the conservative John Locke Foundation as having the lowest local tax burden on its citizens of all 100 North Carolina counties.

In January of 2003, the Alexander County Board of Commissioners honored Harbinson with a “Key to the County,” the highest award the county can bestow ‑‑ a program Harbinson himself started during his tenure to recognize outstanding citizens.

On the local level, Harbinson has served as both a Deacon and an Elder in the Taylorsville Presbyterian Church, having been installed as a Deacon in 1990 and ordained as an Elder in 1993 ‑‑ both in the Presbyterian Church (USA). He is a co‑founder and board member of the Bob Gryder Scholarship Foundation, Inc., which was incorporated in 1974 and was the first, of now many, local providers of annual scholarships to graduates of Alexander Central High School. He also helped lead the effort to name the baseball field at ACHS “Bob Gryder Stadium” after his high school and college classmate who died tragically after their first year together at UNC.

A devoted alumnus of UNC and a sports enthusiast, Joel is a current member of the UNC Educational Foundation, Inc. (a Big Ram since 1990), the UNC School of Law Alumni Association, and a Life Member of the UNC General Alumni Association. He is a past member of the Morehead Scholarship Selection Committee (1979 2002) and served as county chairman.

A 1972 graduate of Alexander Central High School, Joel was a member of the school’s first football team in 1970, which also won the Northwestern 3A Conference championship by defeating Marion 9 6 with a field goal by Harbinson late in the game. In addition to being a placekicker, Joel was a running back who rushed for over 1,000 yards and scored over 100 points his senior season, leading the Northwestern 3A Conference in scoring. On October 4, 1971, he scored the first touchdown in the inaugural game played in Cougar Stadium. As a senior, Harbinson was named All Conference in both football as a running back and baseball as a shortstop. Forty years later in 2011, he helped lead the successful effort to re name the facility “Glenn G. Wilson Field at Cougar Stadium” in honor of his high school football coach. In the last year of Taylorsville High School in 1970, Joel was an All Conference shortstop on the school’s Northwestern 3A Conference championship baseball team. Later, he won the first county tennis tournament in both men’s singles and doubles. In 1985, Joel was selected by the Alexander County Recreation Department as one of several “Living Legends” in the history of Alexander County Sports.

Since Joel’s younger son, Jarrett, is autistic, Joel has been active in many organizations promoting mental health in particular and health care in general. He has served on the Board of Directors of the N.C. Autism Society (1992 1996) and was appointed by Governor Jim Hunt to serve on the Governor’s Advocacy Council for Persons with Disabilities (1997 1999). Joel is the former Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Alexander Community Hospital (1993 1997).

In 2007, Joel created and drafted a bill, which later became law under the sponsorship of Rep. Ray Warren, which split the 22nd Judicial District establishing a new district made up of Alexander and Iredell counties which improved the efficiency of the local judicial system and guaranteed Alexander County two permanent District Court judge positions.

Since 2015, Joel’s law firm has sponsored and appeared on a thirty minute monthly show on WACB Radio (B86) the first Thursday of each month at 5:00 PM called “Around the Legal World in 30 Minutes with Harbinson & Brzykcy” where legal topics and information are discussed as an educational service to the general public.

Joel now spends most of his time, outside of work, caring for his autistic son, Jarrett. His other activities include attending UNC Chapel Hill sporting events and quarterly meetings of the Hickory Cigar Club. Harbinson and his family are residents of Statesville, NC.

Education

  • University of North Carolina School of Law, Chapel Hill, North Carolina
    • J.D. - 1979
  • University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina
    • A.B. - 1977
    • Honors: Broyhill Industries Scholar

Pro-Bono Activities

  • Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Alexander Community Hospital, 1993 to 1997

Past Positions

  • Alexander County Board of Education, School Board Attorney 1981-1998, 2000-2013, 1981 to 1998
  • Town of Taylorsville, Town Attorney 1987-1989, 1987 to 1989
  • Alexander County Board of County Commissioners, Alexander County Attorney 1982-1986, 1992-1994

Fraternities or Sororities

  • Phi Delta Phi

Professional Associations

  • North Carolina Bar Association
  • District 22A Bar Association
  • North Carolina Advocates for Justice
  • Bar Registry of Preeminent Lawyers
  • Alexander County Board of Commissioners, Elected Office 1998-2002, 2003-2004
  • Alexander County Board of Commissioners, Chairman 1998-1999, 2001-2002

Current Employment Position

  • Senior Partner

Practice Areas

  • Criminal Law
  • Traffic Defence
  • Family Law
  • Medical Malpractice
  • Personal Injury and Property Damage

Bar Admissions

  • North Carolina, 1979
  • U.S. District Court Western District of North Carolina, 1982

Honors

  • "AV Preeminent" rating from Martindale‑Hubbell every year since 2000
  • Selected by NC Lawyers Weekly as one of its North Carolina "Leaders in the Law," 2018
  • North Carolina Bar Association recipient of the Citizen Lawyer Award, 2019
  • "The Order of The Long Leaf Pine," given by N.C. Governor Roy Cooper, 2018
  • "Super Lawyer" in the area of Criminal Defense by Thomson Reuters, 2021