Joel Harbinson

Joel C. Harbinson

Joel Harbinson

For nearly 45 years, Joel C. Harbinson has excelled as a criminal and civil trial lawyer - having achieved the coveted status as "Super Lawyer" - with an extensive background in Criminal Law, Traffic Charges, Family Law, Personal Injury and Property Damage (Motor Vehicle Accidents), and Medical Malpractice.

Joel obtained his Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree from the University of North Carolina School of Law in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, in 1979. Prior to that, he completed his undergraduate studies at the University of North Carolina, where he earned his Bachelor of Arts (A.B.) degree in 1977. During his academic journey, Joel was recognized as a Broyhill Industries Scholar, demonstrating his commitment to excellence.

After passing the bar in 1979, he opened a solo practice in his hometown of Taylorsville, North Carolina. He has been admitted to practice law in North Carolina since 1979 and the U.S. District Court Western District of North Carolina since 1982

Joel is an active member of various professional associations, including the North Carolina Bar Association, District 22A Bar Association, North Carolina Advocates for Justice, and Phi Delta Phi legal fraternity.

Throughout his career, Joel has distinguished himself in the legal profession and earned the respect of his peers. He served as the President of the 22nd Judicial District Bar Association in two different terms, from 1987 to 1988 and 1999 to 2000.

Recognized for his exceptional legal ability and ethical standards, Joel Harbinson has consistently received the highest possible ranking, an "AV Preeminent" rating, from Martindale-Hubbell every year since the turn of the century - this highest recognition possible in both competence and ethics. Consequently, Joel is proudly listed on the Bar Registry of Preeminent Lawyers.

In 2018, Joel Harbinson was recognized as one of the distinguished "Leaders in the Law" by NC Lawyers Weekly, an esteemed accolade given to influential individuals within North Carolina's legal community. This prestigious honor is bestowed upon those who have surpassed expectations in their profession and have made remarkable contributions to their community. Harbinson's selection was made by a panel of esteemed legal professionals and peers, who evaluated his professional accomplishments, personal achievements, and community involvement within the Tar Heel State.

The following year, the North Carolina Bar Association, in collaboration with the Citizen Lawyer Committee, acknowledged Joel Harbinson as one of the recipients of the esteemed Citizen Lawyer Award for 2019. Established in 2007, this award aims to honor lawyers who have displayed exceptional dedication to public service within their communities. The recipients of this award include elected and appointed government officials, coaches, mentors, and voluntary leaders of nonprofit, civic, and community organizations.

Joel Harbinson's contributions were further recognized on September 26, 2019, when N.C. Governor Roy Cooper bestowed upon him the distinguished honor of being initiated into the Society of "The Order of The Long Leaf Pine." Considered one of the most prestigious awards presented by the Governor of North Carolina, this recognition is reserved for individuals who have demonstrated an extraordinary commitment to their state and communities, as well as exceptional achievements in their careers.

In 2021, Joel Harbinson's excellence in Criminal Defense earned him the esteemed title of "Super Lawyer" in the prestigious Thomson Reuters list. This distinguished honor placed him among the Top 100 lawyers in the entire State of North Carolina. This recognition is a testament to Harbinson's exceptional legal prowess, as it is bestowed upon only 5% of attorneys in North Carolina. Notably, he has consistently maintained this designation each year since 2021.

With over four decades of legal experience, Attorney Joel Harbinson has been unwavering in his commitment to defending individuals who qualify for court-appointed counsel in serious felony criminal cases. Notably, he has achieved a remarkable track record, skillfully representing numerous indigent defendants of color facing sexual offense charges in over a dozen jury trials, resulting in no convictions. Recognizing his exceptional expertise, the North Carolina Advocates for Justice honored him by appointing him as the chairperson for a seminar titled "Becoming Atticus Finch: Representing the Wrongfully Accused in Sexual Assault Cases," held in October 2017 at their esteemed headquarters in Raleigh.

Throughout his illustrious career, Harbinson has held several significant roles in public service and law. He served as the Alexander County Attorney for two terms, from 1982 to 1986 and 1992 to 1994. Additionally, he provided his legal expertise as the Taylorsville Town Attorney from 1977 to 1979 and served as the Alexander County School Board Attorney from 1981 to 1998, as well as from 2013 to 2020.

Harbinson's contributions extend beyond his legal practice, as he actively participated in the Alexander County Board of Elections and served as the Chairman of the Alexander County Democratic Party. In January 2017, the Alexander County Democratic Party acknowledged his unwavering loyalty and dedicated service to the party by awarding him the prestigious Distinguished Alexander Democrat (D.A.D.) award.

Joel's election to the office of Board of County Commissioners of Alexander County on November 3, 1998, marked a significant milestone in the county's history as he became the first attorney to be elected county commissioner. Throughout his tenure, Joel served as Chairman from 1998-1999 and 2001-2002, and as Vice Chairman from 2000-2001. Additionally, he played an active role on the Executive Board of the Western Piedmont Council of Governments during his first term.

Despite an unsuccessful re-election bid in November 2002, Joel's dedication and commitment were recognized by the Alexander County Board of Commissioners, who appointed him on June 16, 2003, to fulfill the unexpired term of David Odom. Joel served in this capacity until the fall of 2004.

During his tenure as a county commissioner from 1998 to 2002, Joel and his fellow commissioners accomplished notable progress in Alexander County:

  1. Transitioned junior high schools into middle schools, relocating the 9th grade to ACHS. This initiative included a significant renovation to the high school, representing the first major upgrade in 30 years, with a budget of $8.8 million.
  2. Constructed a new Ellendale Elementary School at a cost of $6.4 million.
  3. Built a total of 32 new classrooms across West Middle (11), East Middle (11), Sugar Loaf (6), and Stony Point (4) schools, amounting to an investment of $3.95 million.
  4. Pioneered the establishment of the first permanent community college in the county, known as the Catawba Valley Community College Alexander Center, with a budget of $1.65 million.
  5. Collaborated with the State to fund and construct the Alexander Correctional Institution, the largest State-funded project in western North Carolina's history, with a total investment of $80 million from the State and $1 million from the local community.
  6. Partnered with the State to build a new juvenile detention center solely utilizing State funds, totaling $2.8 million.
  7. Developed Dusty Ridge Park in the Wittenburg community, an innovative multi-purpose county recreational facility that served as the first of its kind in southern Alexander County.
  8. Secured over $2 million in state and federal grants to install waterlines in various areas, including Little River, Three Forks, Rink Dam Road, Millersville, and Liledoun, improving access to clean water for residents.
  9. Implemented county-wide zoning for the first time in the county's history, a measure aimed at safeguarding residential areas and fostering commercial development.
  10. Significantly increased local teacher supplements from 1% to 6%, providing enhanced support to educators.
  11. Boosted local funding for education by over 40%, averaging more than a 10% annual increase.
  12. Constructed a new animal shelter at the National Guard Armory, improving the welfare of animals in the county.
  13. Collaborated with Charter Communications to establish the Local Government Channel, enabling the broadcast of commission meetings and promoting transparency.
  14. Restructured the Solid Waste enterprise fund, allowing citizens to dispose of trash free of charge by encouraging recycling efforts.
  15. Orchestrated a successful arrangement that led to the reopening of the bankrupt Alexander Community Hospital as the Frye Regional Medical Center Alexander Campus, ensuring continued access to healthcare services.
  16. Consistently achieved recognition from the conservative John Locke Foundation, which ranked Alexander County as having the lowest local tax burden among all 100 counties in North Carolina during each year of Joel's tenure.

In January 2003, the Alexander County Board of Commissioners bestowed upon Joel the "Key to the County," the highest honor that the county can bestow - a program Harbinson himself ironically started during his tenure to recognize outstanding citizens.

Joel Harbinson has actively contributed to his local community in various roles. Within the Taylorsville Presbyterian Church, he has shown his commitment by serving as both a Deacon and an Elder. His tenure began in 1990 when he was installed as a Deacon, and he furthered his involvement by being ordained as an Elder in 1993 within the Presbyterian Church (USA).

Joel's involvement in advocating for mental health and healthcare stems from his personal experiences as a father. His younger son, Jarrett, being autistic, has motivated Joel to actively participate in organizations that promote mental health and support individuals with disabilities. He served on the Board of Directors of the N.C. Autism Society from 1992 to 1996 and was appointed by Governor Jim Hunt to the Governor's Advocacy Council for Persons with Disabilities from 1997 to 1999. Furthermore, Joel held the position of Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Alexander Community Hospital from 1993 to 1997.

Additionally, Joel played a pivotal role in establishing the Bob Gryder Scholarship Foundation, Inc. As one of its co-founders and board members, he helped incorporate the foundation in 1974. The foundation, which initially started as the sole local provider of annual scholarships for Alexander Central High School graduates, has grown over the years to include numerous providers. This expansion has opened doors for more students to receive financial aid for their educational pursuits. Joel's dedication to his alma mater, Alexander Central High School, was further demonstrated when he played a leading role in naming the school's baseball field "Bob Gryder Stadium" in honor of his high school and college classmate. Sadly, Bob Gryder passed away tragically after their first year together at UNC.

Joel, a dedicated alumnus of UNC and a passionate sports enthusiast, has been actively involved in various associations and organizations. Currently, he is a member of the UNC Educational Foundation, Inc., a prestigious position he has held since 1990. Additionally, Joel is a proud member of the UNC School of Law Alumni Association and a Life Member of the UNC General Alumni Association. He has also contributed his expertise as a former member of the Morehead Scholarship Selection Committee from 1979 to 2002, while also serving as a county chairman.

Having graduated from Alexander Central High School in 1972, Joel holds a special place in the school's history. He was a key member of the inaugural football team in 1970, which clinched the Northwestern 3A Conference championship by defeating Marion with a late-game field goal by Harbinson, securing a victory of 9-6. In addition to his role as a placekicker, Joel excelled as a running back, amassing over 1,000 rushing yards and scoring over 100 points during his senior season. His remarkable performance led him to be the leading scorer in the Northwestern 3A Conference. Joel's contributions extended beyond football; on October 4, 1971, he scored the first touchdown in Cougar Stadium's inaugural game. He was also recognized as an All-Conference player in both football and baseball, where he showcased his talents as a shortstop. In 2011, Joel played a pivotal role in renaming the facility "Glenn G. Wilson Field at Cougar Stadium" to honor his high school football coach. Furthermore, during his time at Taylorsville High School, before its closure in 1970, Joel excelled as an All-Conference shortstop for the baseball team, which secured the Northwestern 3A Conference championship. Notably, he was also the champion of the first county tennis tournament in both men's singles and doubles. In recognition of his achievements, Joel was inducted into the Alexander County Sports Hall of Fame in November 2022.

In 2007, Joel's dedication to improving the local judicial system led him to draft a bill, which later became law under the sponsorship of Rep. Ray Warren. This legislation split the 22nd Judicial District, establishing a new district comprising Alexander and Iredell counties. The implementation of this law significantly enhanced the efficiency of the local judicial system and ensured Alexander County's access to two permanent District Court judge positions.

From 2015 to 2023, Joel's law firm sponsored and appeared on a monthly show called "Around the Legal World in 30 Minutes with Harbinson & Brzykcy." This informative program aired on WACB Radio (B86) on the first Thursday of each month at 5:00 PM. The show aimed to educate the general public on various legal topics and provide valuable information.

Harbinson, born on February 18, 1954, in Hickory, NC, may be an accomplished attorney with a notable career but he also has a strong commitment to his family. He is the son of the late Rev. Cline W. Harbinson and Madeline Campbell Harbinson, and the proud father of two sons, Justin and Jarrett. Joel is married to Connie Barrett Harbinson and is the stepfather of Alexandria Brinkley Corbett.

Connie, a highly accomplished individual herself, graduated with High Honors from Catawba Valley Community College in 2007. She went on to earn a Bachelor of Science Degree in Dental Hygiene with Distinction from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2008, and a Master's in Public Health from A.T. Still University in 2012. She is currently certified as a Registered Dental Hygienist.

Justin, Joel's eldest son, graduated with Highest Honors in Creative Writing from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2007. He furthered his education by obtaining a Master's in Fine Arts in Creative Writing from the University of San Francisco in 2010. Justin now serves as an Associate Professor at Catawba Valley Community College, focusing on English Composition.

Jarrett, Joel's other son, completed his education at Alexander Central High School in 2009. He received a certificate through the TEACCH model, which specializes in educating autistic students.

Alexandria, Joel's stepdaughter, graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2009 with a degree in Psychology. She currently works as an accounts representative for UPS in the area. Alexandria is a proud mother to her son, Hudson, and her daughter, Blake.

Outside of his professional endeavors, Joel dedicates most of his time to caring for his autistic son, Jarrett. He remains an ardent supporter of UNC Chapel Hill sporting events and actively participates in quarterly meetings of the Hickory Cigar Club. Joel proudly calls Statesville, NC his home - but his heart will always be in Alexander County.

With his vast expertise and dedication to providing exceptional legal representation, Joel C. Harbinson remains committed to delivering excellent outcomes for his clients.

  • Criminal Law
  • Traffic Charges
  • Family Law
  • Personal Injury and Property Damage (Motor Vehicle Accidents)
  • Medical Malpractice
  • North Carolina, 1979
  • U.S. District Court Western District of North Carolina, 1982
  • 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
  • North Carolina Bar Association
  • District 22A Bar Association
  • North Carolina Advocates for Justice
  • Bar Registry of Preeminent Lawyers
  • Phi Delta Phi legal fraternity
  • "AV Preeminent" rating from Martindale Hubbell every year in this century
  • 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, 2019
  • "Super Lawyer" in the area of Criminal Defense by Thomson Reuters, 2021-present
  • Alexander County Board of Education, School Board Attorney 1981-1998, 2000-2013, 1981-1998
  • Town of Taylorsville, Town Attorney 1987-1989, 1987-1989
  • Alexander County, County Attorney 1982-1986, 1992-1994