A good lawyer represents clients; a great lawyer fights for people. With nearly 20 years of experience as a criminal defense attorney, Mike Klinkosum has fought for thousands of people; from those charged with minor infractions to those charged with capital murder. Mike's philosophy is that everyone who stands accused of a crime deserves to have a lawyer who will wage war to protect them.
Mike Klinkosum is a member of the law firm of Cheshire, Parker,Schneider, & Bryan, P.L.L.C. in Raleigh, North Carolina. He 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. Mike's practice focuses exclusively on criminal defense at the trial, appellate, and post-conviction levels in both State and Federal courts.
Mike grew up in Wilkesboro, NC, and obtained his B.A. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (1992) and his J.D. from the University of Miami School of Law (1995). He began his career as an Assistant Public Defender in the State of Illinois, first with the Office of the Kane County Public Defender in St. Charles and then with the Office of the Cook County Public Defender in Chicago. In 1998, he returned toWilkesboro,NCand entered private practice. In 2002, Mike joined North Carolina’s Office of the Capital Defender, where his work focused exclusively on death penalty trials. He joined the Wake County Public Defender’s Office in 2007, where he worked in the felony unit of that office handling major felony cases until he joined Cheshire, Parker, Schneider, Bryan & Vitale in June, 2010.
In October, 2007, Mike, along with his co-counsel, Kelley DeAngelus, were successful in obtaining the freedom for Floyd Brown, a mentally retarded man from Anson County, NC who had been wrongfully charged with first-degree murder and armed robbery and who was confined to a state mental institution for 14 years due to his incapacity to stand trial. For their successful four-year legal battle, in 2008, Mike and Kelley were awarded the ACLU of North Carolina Award, as well as the Kellie Crabtree Award, presented by the NC Advocates for Justice.
On February 17, 2010, Mike and his partner, Joe Cheshire, along with Christine Mumma of the NC Center on Actual Innocence won the freedom of Gregory F. Taylor, who had been wrongfully convicted of first-degree murder and incarcerated for 16 years. Mike and the team won a declaration of innocence from a three-judge panel convened via the NC Innocence Inquiry Commission. It is believed that the three-judge panel’s ruling is the first time in U.S. legal history that a court of law has declared a person “innocent” of the crimes with which he/she was convicted.
In June, 2010, Mike was again awarded the Kellie Crabtree Award by the NC Advocates for Justice for his work in the Gregory Taylor case, thus achieving the distinction of being the only attorney to have received the Kellie Crabtree Award more than once. The cases of Floyd Brown and Gregory Taylor were featured in the CNN Presents documentary “Rogue Justice,” which aired in January, 2011 and Gregory Taylor's case was the subject of a documentary, "6,149 Days: The True Story of Greg Taylor," which aired on WRALTV in April, 2012. The WRAL documentary can be viewed at WRAL.com.
Mike constantly strives to become better at defending people accused of crimes and he does this by both attending and teaching at continuing legal education seminars in North Carolina and around the U.S. Mike has served as a faculty member at the University of North Carolina School of Government’s NC Defender Trial School, the NC New Felony Defender Program, the National Institute for Trial Advocacy’s Southeastern Regional Trial Skills program, and has presented at numerous lectures and seminars on topics relating to criminal defense and criminal trials throughout the State of North Carolina. In May, 2011, the North Carolina Commission on Indigent Defense Services presented Mike with The Professor John H. Rubin Award for Extraordinary Contributions to Indigent Defense Training Programs.
As a criminal defense attorney, Mike has also fought for the accused through professional organizations and the legislative process. Hehas served two terms as Chair of the Criminal Defense Section (2004 – 2006) of the North Carolina Advocates for Justice (NCAJ) and was a member of that association’s Board of Governors from 2004 to 2007.Due to his work with the forensic science issues in the case of State v. Gregory F. Taylor, Mike was asked by the NCAJ to chair the NCAJ SBI Crime Lab Task Force, a position which he held from 2010 to 2011.He has worked with NCAJ to lobby the North Carolina General Assembly for increased funding for the Office of Indigent Defense Services and for discovery reform.Mike has also served as Vice-Chair of the Committee on Law Enforcement/Prosecutorial Misconduct of the NACDL.
Mike has authored several articles on criminal defense related topics for both state and national publications. He is also the author of the North Carolina Criminal Defense Motions Manual, a 700 plus page manual, published by LEXIS and the NC Advocates for Justice, which is now in its 2nd Edition.