Archive August 2020

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States can and Should Reevaluate Sentencing for Inmates Serving Life Sentences

One in seven prisoners in the United States is serving life sentences and two-thirds of those people who are serving life sentences are people of color. A large contributor to the growing population of inmates serving life sentences is habitual offender laws.

Six Tips On Effectively Representing Trans and Non-Binary Clients

I am a visibly trans person. I am also a public defender coming up on the end of my first decade of practice and I interact with court systems every day. Before I walk in the door alongside a client who is trans or non-binary, I already have a good idea which judges, clerks and court officers are committed to supporting (or hurting) trans and non-binary people. 

NAPD Statement in Response to the Shooting of Jacob Blake

The National Association for Public Defense (NAPD) is outraged by the police shooting of Jacob Blake, and reiterates its support for both the Black Lives Matter movement and comprehensive police and criminal justice reform.

A Recent Historic Victory

In State v. Ramseur, State v. Burke, and State v. Robinson, the North Carolina Supreme Court issued long-awaited decisions involving the state’s Racial Justice Act (RJA).  The RJA was the first statute in the nation that was drafted and used to vacate death sentences based on evidence that those sentences were infected with racial bias. 

Meet Mary Pollard, the new Director of the Office of Indigent Defense Services

Yesterday, Mary Pollard began work as just the third Executive Director of the North Carolina Office of Indigent Defense Services (IDS), which began its work two decades ago in 2000. IDS is the statewide agency responsible for overseeing and enhancing legal representation for indigent defendants and others entitled to counsel under North Carolina law. 

Writing This Farewell...

I have been writing this farewell in my head for a long time. For the past 35 years and 7 months I have woken up every working day and walked into a courtroom and identified myself on the record as “Deputy Public Defender”. This Thursday, July 30th, I will do it for the very last time.

The Federal Judiciary Needs More Former Public Defenders

The composition of President Trump’s record-setting number of judicial appointments has been widely criticized for its overwhelmingly white-male skew. But another homogeneity has also emerged: President Trump is loading the bench with former prosecutors.