In The News
- In January 2023, Attorney Joel Harbinson was designated by Thomson Reuters as a Super Lawyer in North Carolina in the area of Criminal Defense — for the third consecutive year.
- In January 2023, Attorney Joel Harbinson was given the “AV” status by Martindale-Hubbell signifying the highest rating in both competency and ethics by his colleagues in the law. Harbinson has received this rating every year this century.
- In November 2022, the Alexander County Educational Foundation inducted Attorney Joel Harbinson into the Alexander County Sports Hall of Fame in the areas of football, baseball & tennis.
- Attorney Joel Harbinson was recognized in the February 2021 publication of the Charlotte Magazine as one of the Top Attorneys in North Carolina.
- On January 14, 2021, attorney Joel Harbinson was recognized in the 2021 North Carolina Super Lawyers Magazine for being one of the top 100 lawyers in North Carolina in the area of criminal defense.
- The Alexander County Board of Education on December 8, 2020, recognized attorney Joel Harbinson for his 24 years of service as school board attorney (1981–1998, 2013–2020).
During that time, he never lost a case representing the Board.
Attorney Caryn Brzykcy was named as his replacement.
- The Alexander County Board of Education honored Attorney Caryn Brzykcy on November 10, 2020, for her 12 years of service on the board.
Caryn served several years as chair of the board and was the first woman chairperson of the Alexander County Board of Education in the history of the county.
- On November 3, 2020, attorney Joel Harbinson entered a plea in Alexander County Superior on behalf of his client A.P. to the charge of Voluntary Manslaughter. A.P. was originally charged with second-degree murder in May 2016, when, as a 20‑year‑old first‑time mother, she smothered
to death her four-day-old son. Harbinson retained one of the leading forensic psychologists in the state, Dr. Jim Hilkey of Durham, who, after examining the defendant on numerous occasions, determined that, due to extensive lifelong mental health issues, A.P. lacked the sufficient specific intent and malice to meet that essential element of second-degree murder. Consequently,
Harbinson was able to obtain the greatly reduced plea of voluntary manslaughter.
- Attorney Joel Harbinson was recently recognized in 2020 by Martindale‑Hubbell on his 20th consecutive year for having achieved an AV Preeminent Rating for the “Highest Possible Peer Review Rating in Legal Ability & Ethical Standards.”
- The Taylorsville Times asked attorney Joel Harbinson to write an essay as to what he loved about Alexander County. His essay appeared in the February 26, 2020, edition of the newspaper. Harbinson stated that, having grown up in the county, the people, despite the prejudices and biases that we all have, would respond favorably to individual people in need. Harbinson went on to say that his success as a local trial lawyer stemmed from his ability to personalize each client with the jurors to the extent that they would focus on that person, the facts of that particular case and reaching a verdict based on doing the right thing for that individual.
- Attorney Caryn Brzykcy was retained as the lead attorney for the firm to pursue the personal injury claims of a local middle school student who was hospitalized on December 17, 2018, when the school bus he was riding in overturned after being struck by a woman who was later charged with driving while impaired.
- For the 20th consecutive year, attorney Joel Harbinson has been recognized by Martindale-Hubbell, the premier source of the ranking of attorneys, as “AV Preeminent,” indicating
that his fellow lawyers and judges gave him the “Highest Possible Rating in Both Legal Ability & Ethical Standards.”
- In October of 2019, the law firm won The Taylorsville Times and Alexander County Economic Development Corporation’s Readers’ Choice Awards for “Best Overall Law Firm” – for the
sixth year in a row.
- Attorney Joel Harbinson was recognized in the October 2019 edition of Trial Briefs, the quarterly publication of the North Carolina Advocates for Justice, for his representation in a first-degree rape and first-degree burglary case in June 2019.
- In 2007, attorney Joel Harbinson created and drafted a bill, which later became law under the sponsorship of then Rep. Ray Warren, splitting 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. On October 10, 2019, Harbinson, on behalf of the 22A Judicial District (now District 32) Bar Association, at their
annual meeting, recognized former Rep. Ray Warren for his role in making this happen.
- At the October 19, 2019, Taylorsville Apple Festival, the law firm collaborated with the Town of Taylorsville and sponsored a First Amendment Free Speech Zone behind their office, allowing those who wanted to express unpopular opinions the opportunity to do so in public without offending other festival-goers.
- On October 2, 2019, attorney Caryn Brzykcy was the lead attorney for the firm in a mediation for her client who was injured in a traffic accident as the result of the negligence of
another party. Her client suffered a concussion and ongoing back problems. Despite her client having a history of back problems prior to the accident, Ms. Brzykcy, with the assistance
of attorney Joel Harbinson, was able to negotiate a settlement for their client in the amount of $175,000.
- On September 26, 2019, attorney Joel Harbinson was honored by N.C. Governor Roy Cooper with initiation into the Society of “The Order of The Long Leaf Pine.”
The award was presented to Harbinson on behalf of the Governor by former Rep. Ray Warren at a reception at Harbinson’s law office commemorating his 40th anniversary of practicing law in Alexander County. Harbinson opened his law office in Taylorsville on October 1, 1979.
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.
Notable recipients in the past include Andy Griffith, Dale Earnhardt, Michael Jordan, Billy Graham, Richard Petty and Dean Smith.
- On August 30, 2019, a mural of the old Alexander County Courthouse was completed on the back of the law office building owned by attorney Joel Harbinson.
Harbinson commissioned the mural, which was painted by Todd Donahue, aka Mr. Mural, in appreciation of the citizens of Alexander County.
The old courthouse burned down in 1967, and the mural features two prominent former attorneys, Hayden Burke and Romulus Z. Linney, who spent their careers practicing law in
that particular courthouse.
- August 19, 2019, marked the 40th anniversary of attorney Joel Harbinson being licensed to practice law in North Carolina. Over four decades, he has handled virtually every kind of criminal and civil case. More recently, in 2018, Harbinson was the only trial lawyer in North Carolina who tried both a first-degree murder criminal case and a major medical negligence civil case in that same year.
- On June 21, 2019, attorney Joel Harbinson was officially appointed by the court to represent 16-year-old Heidi Wolfe during her initial appearance in Alexander County
District Court on triple murder charges.
- On June 20, 2019, the North Carolina Bar Association honored attorney Joel Harbinson, along with only 10 other lawyers in the state, as a 2019 recipient of the Citizen Lawyer Award. The award was presented at the NCBA Annual Meeting at the Biltmore Estate in Asheville. 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.
- During the June 10, 2019, term of Alexander County Superior Court, attorney Joel Harbinson filed a motion to suppress on behalf of his client A.G. who was charged with driving while impaired. Harbinson argued that since the arresting officer only saw A.G.’s vehicle “touch the center line” rather than cross it, based on a 2009 NC Court of Appeals decision, the officer had an insufficient reasonable suspicion to stop the vehicle. The presiding judge agreed and suppressed the evidence of the stop. As a result of winning the motion, the DWI charge against A.G. was dismissed.
- On June 3, 2019, attorney Joel Harbinson was able to get charges of first-degree rape
and first-degree burglary dismissed against his client O.A. Client O.A., a Hispanic citizen of the U.S., was charged by his adult Caucasian neighbor of a nonconsensual sexual assault. Harbinson set a probable cause hearing soon after the charges were filed where he cross-examined
the accuser and had a transcript of her testimony, showing inconsistencies and a general lack of credibility, made that he provided, along with telephone records he subpoenaed showing a relationship between the parties before and after the alleged rape and burglary, to the DA’s
office. Upon consideration, the DA’s office dismissed all charges “due to significant conflicts in the evidence,” which Harbinson was able to establish.
- In the March 21, 2019, edition of the Taylorsville Times, attorney Joel Harbinson was recognized for being instrumental in bringing the state-funded Alexander Correctional Institution to Taylorsville when he served as a county commissioner. The prison is one of only six state-funded close security prisons in North Carolina.
It is now one of the largest employers in Alexander County with nearly 750 jobs and has paid for itself many times over for the $1 million local investment to secure it – by its monthly payments to the town and the county in water and sewer fees, as well as in savings in meals for our detainees in the county jail and in sales taxes for buying local products and using local services.
- On December 12, 2018, attorney Joel Harbinson was selected by The National Trial Lawyers as one of the Top 100 Criminal Defense Trial Lawyers in North Carolina.
The National Trial Lawyers is an organization composed of such notable attorneys (and their clients) as Gloria Allred (Bill Cosby’s accusers), Jose Baez (Casey Anthony), Mark Geragos
(Scott Peterson), Mark O’Mara (George Zimmerman) and Gerry Spence (Karen Silkwood). As a result, Harbinson will be invited to attend the annual Trial Lawyers Summit and network with
these and other top lawyers across the country.
- On July 1, 2012, attorney Joel Harbinson began the direct marketing of handling traffic tickets outside of Alexander County.
In December 2018, the firm recognized the 10,000th speeding ticket it had reduced to “Improper Equipment” since its marketing campaign began – saving its clients millions of dollars in car insurance premiums.
- Client A.A., a wholesaler from outside North Carolina, was stopped at a license check where, after a consent search of his van, numerous vials of CBD were found – which he supplied to “head shops” across the state. Since CBD is a derivative of hemp and can contain THC, the active ingredient of marijuana, A.A. was charged with felony possession of marijuana with the intent to sell and deliver. The CBD was sent to the state lab for analysis and THC was indeed confirmed. A.A. retained attorney Joel Harbinson who was able to get the charge dismissed in Alexander County Superior Court on December 12, 2018, when he advocated that the state could not prove the specific level of THC within the CBD confiscated from A.A.’s vehicle – a crucial element that determines whether CBD is a legal or an illegal substance.
- In March 2015, attorney Joel Harbinson was retained to represent a client charged with felony hit-and-run in Catawba County after she struck a jogger on the side of the road early in the morning before sunrise. The defendant thought she had hit a dog and went on to work two miles away at a day care center where she worked and parked her car right outside.
When the sun rose and she finally looked the damage to the passenger side of her car, it was determined she had a struck a jogger running on the edge of the highway in the dark. After negotiations with the District Attorney’s Office over the next three years, she eventually pled No Contest on October 8, 2018, to a simple misdemeanor – instead of a felony – and
was ordered to perform some community service and pay a fine but was not ordered to pay any restitution.
- In September of 2018, our firm won The Taylorsville Times and Alexander County Economic Development Corporation’s Readers’ Choice Awards for “Best Overall Law Firm” – for
the fifth consecutive year.
- Attorney Joel Harbinson was chosen on August 13, 2018, as one of just 30 recipients for the 2018 “Leaders in the Law” award as determined by North Carolina Lawyers Weekly.
Honorees of this award are described as “the most influential individuals within our state’s legal community” and are recognized as going “above and beyond in their profession and community.”
- Attorney Joel Harbinson was retained on June 25, 2018, to represent a 20‑year‑old teen who accidentally crossed the centerline coming home from work, causing a collision that killed a young mother and injured her children. The teenager, a volunteer firefighter in his community, was exhausted from a long day working his construction job outside in the hot weather. The teen has fully cooperated with authorities. Neither alcohol nor drugs were involved. Charges of misdemeanor
death by vehicle (an unintentional death resulting from the violation of a traffic law), reckless driving and driving left of center are currently pending in the Alexander County District Court.
- Attorney Joel Harbinson was hired on June 11, 2018, to defend a teenager who accidentally shot and killed his best friend earlier that morning. During an investigation by the DA’s office and local detectives over the next week, Harbinson and his client fully cooperated with local authorities in order to show any charges of homicide would not be justified based upon the specific facts of the case. One week later, on June 18, 2018, the District Attorney announced that no criminal charges would be sought by her office.
- Attorneys Joel Harbinson and Caryn Brzykcy served as co‑counsel in a
complicated medical negligence trial in Iredell County Superior Court over a period of more than three weeks from May 21–June 11, 2018 in the Iredell County Superior Court. The case involved the testimony of a total of seven doctors (five of which were expert witnesses). With the law
in North Carolina stacked in favor of the defendant doctor in such medical malpractice cases, the plaintiff did not prevail despite a hard‑fought battle by our team of experienced attorneys.
- On May 21, 2018, attorney Caryn Brzykcy finalized a settlement for her client who was one of the students injured on October 3, 2015, when a rental truck struck North Iredell High School, causing a concrete awning to collapse on students waiting underneath. Twenty-five students attending a band competition were injured and taken to local hospitals. The claims of all of the students, some severely and permanently injured, were mediated collectively over a period of 24 hours,
and Caryn was able to reach a successful settlement for her particular injured client.
- Attorneys Joel Harbinson and Caryn Brzykcy settled a medical malpractice case in April 2018 on behalf of a client where a urologist negligently left a 150-cm guidewire in his bladder. By agreement of both parties, the terms of the settlement are confidential.
- Attorney Joel Harbinson was recognized in the April 2018 edition of Trial Briefs, the quarterly publication of the North Carolina Advocates for Justice, for his representation in a first-degree murder case in January 2018.
- Attorney Joel Harbinson was recognized for his role in the October 2017 North Carolina Advocates for Justice seminar entitled “Becoming Atticus Finch – Representing the Wrongfully Accused in Sexual Assault Cases.”
Harbinson was Program Chair and author and presenter of the topics “Using Inconsistent Statements and the Lack of Corroboration as the Bedrock of Your Defense”, “Establishing Shared Values with the Jury Leading to an Acquittal.” and “Upholding the Ethical Standards of Atticus Finch.”
- Attorney Joel Harbinson was recognized in the July 2017 edition of Trial Briefs, the quarterly publication of the North Carolina Advocates for Justice, for his representation of three indigent defendants in first-degree sexual assault cases in a 12-month period from January 2015 to January 2016.
- Attorneys Joel Harbinson and Caryn Brzykcy were recognized in an October 2016 publication of N.C. Lawyers Weekly for their part in a successful settlement in a wrongful death damages case resolved in May 2016.