Mike Klinkosum’s standard for being a defense lawyer is simple: “A good lawyer represents clients, but a great lawyer fights for people.” With almost 20 years of experience as a criminal defense trial lawyer, Mike is no stranger to legal battles. Having defended thousands of people, charged with crimes ranging from minor infractions to capital murder, Mike has fought for the accused in numerous trials and hearings as lead counsel. He has defended business people, military officers, school teachers, engineers, and law enforcement officers. He has fought on behalf of those with the means to defend themselves, as well as the poor. He has waged battles for people in high-profile cases and, more often, for the accused who received no media attention.
Mike has been certified as a Specialist in State Criminal Law by the NC Bar Board of Legal Specialization since 2004 and as a Specialist in Criminal Trial Advocacy by the National Board of Trial Advocacy since 2007. His practice is devoted exclusively to criminal defense and civil rights at the trial and appellate levels in both the State and Federal courts of North Carolina. He has appeared in cases in all of the regions of North Carolina.
Mike’s career and role in the criminal justice system has always been that of a trial lawyer for the accused. Prior to entering private practice, he spent several years as an Assistant Public Defender, both in Chicago, IL and Raleigh, NC. He has also represented people charged with first-degree murder as an Assistant Capital Defender with the Winston-Salem, NC and Durham, NC offices of the NC Capital Defender. Mike joined Tin Fulton Walker & Owen and opened the Raleigh office in January 2015 after several years in private practice at the Raleigh law firm of Cheshire Parker Schneider & Bryan.
Mike’s practice at Tin Fulton focuses on defending the accused in charges ranging from misdemeanors to capital murder, particularly including white-collar matters, sex offenses, controlled substance offenses. Mike has worked extensively with forensic experts in the areas of controlled substances, toxicology, arson, ballistics, forensic accounting, digital and computer forensics, forensic pathology, and forensic psychology and psychiatry. His work with white collar matters has included mail fraud, embezzlement, computer related crimes, and professional licensure defense.
In 2007, Mike and his co-counsel Kelley DeAngelus won the release of Floyd Brown, a mentally retarded man from Wadesboro, NC who was wrongfully charged with murder in 1993 and held without a trial in a state mental hospital for 14 years. For their work and four year legal battle, Mike and Kelley were presented with the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina Award by the ACLU of North Carolina, as well as the Kellie Crabtree Award from the North Carolina Advocates for Justice. Floyd Brown’s case received extensive coverage from the Charlotte Observer, the Raleigh News & Observer, The Denver Post, and was the subject of a 2011 CNN documentary entitled Rogue Justice.
In 2010, Mike, along with Christine Mumma of the NC Center on Actual Innocence and Joseph B. Cheshire V, won a declaration of innocence for their client, Gregory F. Taylor, who had been wrongfully convicted of murder and imprisoned for 16 years. The declaration of innocence was issued by a three-judge panel convened by the NC Innocence Inquiry Commission. For his work in Greg Taylor’s case, Mike was again awarded the Kellie Crabtree Award from the North Carolina Advocates for Justice, making Mike the only attorney in North Carolina to have been presented with that award more than once. Greg Taylor’s case received extensive coverage from the Raleigh News & Observer and other media outlets. It was also the subject of the 2011 CNN documentary, Rogue Justice, as well as 6,149 Days: The True Story of Greg Taylor, a 2012 documentary produced by Raleigh television station WRAL and Capitol Broadcasting Company.
Mike maintains an AV® Preeminent rating from Martindale Hubbell and has been recognized on multiple occasions as one of the best criminal defense attorneys in North Carolina by Super Lawyers and Business North Carolina as one of North Carolina’s “Legal Elite.” He has also been recognized as one of the top 100 criminal defense trial lawyers in North Carolina by both The National Trial Lawyers: Top 100 Trial Lawyers and the American Society of Legal Advocates.
Mike has served on the board of directors for North Carolina Prisoner Legal Services since 2008. He is also a member of the North Carolina Advocates for Justice and served as the Chair of the Criminal Defense Section of the NCAJ from 2004 to 2006, as Chair of the NCAJ SBI Crime Lab Task Force from 2010 to 2011, and as a member of the Board of Governors of NCAJ from 2004 to 2007.
Mike has authored several articles in both state and national journals related to criminal defense, and has given over 45 seminars and presentations in North Carolina, as well as other states, on topics related to criminal defense, with particular emphasis on trial practice, discovery in criminal cases, forensic science, and mental health issues in criminal cases. He is also the author of Klinkosum on Criminal Defense Motions, published by Lexis and the North Carolina Advocates for Justice, now in its 3rd edition and edited by Sarah Jessica Farber. Mike is also an Adjunct Professor of Law at the University of North Carolina School of Law where he teaches Criminal Procedure Litigation Skills.
University of Miami School of Law, J.D., 1995
University of North Carolina, B.A., 1992
U.S. District Court, Eastern District of North Carolina
U.S. District Court, Middle District of North Carolina
U.S. District Court, Western District of North Carolina
U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
U.S. Supreme Court
White Collar Defense
Certified Specialist in State Criminal Law (NC State Bar) (certified in 2004; recertified in 2010)
Certified Criminal Trial Advocate (National Board of Trial Advocacy) (certified in 2007; recertified in 2012)
American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina Award (ACLU of North Carolina) (2008)
Kellie Crabtree Award (NC Advocates for Justice) (2008, 2010)
AV® Preeminent Rating from Martindale–Hubbell
Best Lawyers in America (2016)
Super Lawyers (2009, 2012-present)
Business North Carolina “Legal Elite” (2012, 2013)
The Professor John Rubin Award for Extraordinary Contributions to Indigent Defense Training Programs (NC Commission on Indigent Defense Services) (2011)
The National Trial Lawyers: Top 100 Trial Lawyers (2012-present)
American Society of Legal Advocates Top 100 in North Carolina (2013-2015)
National Academy of Criminal Defense Lawyers Top 10 in NC Award (2015)
Klinkosum on Criminal Defense Motions, 3rd Edition (LexisNexis/NCAJ) (June 2014) (now edited by Sarah Jessica Farber, Esq.)
NC Criminal Defense Motions Manual, 2nd Edition (LexisNexis/NCAJ) (May 2012)
NC Criminal Defense Motions Manual, 1st Edition (LexisNexis/NCATL) (July 2008) (Supplement June 2010)
Pursuing Discovery in Criminal Cases: Forcing Open the Prosecution’s Files –
THE CHAMPION (NACDL) (May 2013)
State v. Taylor and the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation Lab Scandal –
THE CHAMPION (NACDL) (July 2011)
State v. Gregory F. Taylor and Law Enforcement Misconduct in the NC SBI Crime Laboratory, THE TRUE BILL (Criminal Justice Section, NC Bar Assoc.) (2010, Vol. 30, No. 1)
TRIAL BRIEFS - Civil and Criminal Trial Advocacy (NCACJ) (Dec. 2009) (Co-Coordinating Editor)
Brady v. Maryland and It’s Legacy – Forging a Path for Disclosure,
(co-authored with Bradley J. Bannon), NC State Bar Journal (2006, Vol. 11, No. 2)
Advocating for Those Left Behind - The Need for Discovery Reform in Non-Capital Post-Conviction Cases, (co-authored with Bradley J. Bannon), TRIAL BRIEFS (NCAJ) (Feb. 2005)
Discovery in Criminal Cases: A Need for Reform, TRIAL BRIEFS (NCAJ) (Dec. 2003)
Piercing the Rape Shield: The Confrontation Clause and Rule 412 in Sex Offense Cases,
TRIAL BRIEFS (NCAJ) (June 2003)
Wake County Bar Association
Wake County Academy of Criminal Trial Lawyers
National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
North Carolina Advocates for Justice
North Carolina Bar Association
American Civil Liberties Union