Attorney John C. Donovan


  John Donovan

Licensed North Carolina Attorney

Admitted 2007

• North Carolina Advocates for Justice (Order of Service)

• National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers

• National College for DUI Defense

• DUI Defense Lawyers Association

• National Association for Public Defense


Duke University School of Law Durham, NC

Juris Doctor awarded May 2006

• Death Penalty Clinic

• Poverty Law Clinic

• Wrongful Convictions Clinic


University of Iowa Iowa City, IA

Post-Baccalaureate Study 1994-1997

• Coursework in Biology, Chemistry, Physics & Bioethics


University of Iowa Iowa City, IA

M.A. Communication Studies awarded May 1994

• Research on the use of narrative and documentary film in public health discourses

• Critical theory of cinema


Wesleyan University Middletown, CT

B.A. Art/Film Studies awarded May 1987

• History/Analysis of American Cinema

• Concentrations in East Asian Religion and English Literature


Legal experience


Office of the Public Defender, Durham County NC Durham, NC

Assistant Public Defender, 2007-Sept. 2014

  • Representing indigent criminal defendants facing incarceration
  • Member, NC Forensic Consulting Network
  • Taught Continuing Legal Education courses at statewide public defender conferences, NCAJ convention and the UNC School of Government

Center for Death Penalty Litigation Durham, NC

Paralegal/Legal Intern, 2005- 2006

  • Assisted in Habeas Corpus hearings in Federal District Court which led to exoneration and release of Levon 'Bo' Jones from death row.
  • Interviewed witnesses
  • Performed legal research and research on mental retardation in death penalty cases
  • Researched and drafted direct and cross examination of witnesses
  • Assisted in preparation of expert witnesses
  • Assisted during court proceedings
  • Reviewed, digested and evaluated medical records

ACLU Capital Punishment Project Durham, NC

Legal Intern, Summer 2006

  • Assisted in direct appeal of death penalty case which led to new trial after nearly 20 years on death row.
  • Conducted extensive legal research and writing on issues including pro se representation and severe mental illness in death penalty cases.

North Carolina Prisoner Legal Services Raleigh, NC

Legal Intern, Summer 2003

  • Provided full range of legal services to prisoners incarcerated by the North Carolina Department of Corrections
  • Focused on health care issues including medical malpractice, undertreatment and access to care
  • Worked on civil rights issues in the context of imprisonment

Duke Law School AIDS Legal Project Durham, NC

Legal Intern, Summer 2001

• Provided legal assistance to indigent people living with HIV, including wills, powers of attorney and guardianships

• Assisted clients with disability appeals before the Social Security Administration through review and analysis of medical records and regulations.


personal experience

•· Former Registered EMT-Paramedic

•· Former Advanced Cardiac Life Support instructor

•· Former National Park Ranger

•· Former wildland fire fighter

•· Thirty years experience practicing and teaching martial arts

•· Taught English and studied martial arts in Osaka, Japan