In June, the pain caused by the police killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor—and the history of pain those deaths echoed—served as a call to action for many Americans and created a rising tide of engagement in race equity work from organizations across the country. The leaders of the School of Government and the Judicial College both announced that our organizations would rise to this occasion and prioritize race equity in our work moving forward. In addition to these internal commitments, the North Carolina Conference of Superior Court Judges and the North Carolina Conference of District Court Judges both created committees to work on racial equity education. These committees invited members of the Judicial College team to partner with them to design and offer new and responsive programming to their membership.
Since its founding in 2005, the mission of the Judicial College has been to provide “education and training to judicial branch personnel to develop the abilities and values necessary to provide justice.” In the nearly four years that I have been in my role, I’ve consistently encountered a similar dedication to learning and fairness expressed by our clients: the judges, magistrates, clerks, and other court officials of North Carolina. The great news is that the individuals who make up our judiciary are working hard to do incredibly complicated and difficult jobs, and they want to “get it right.” So, when we zoom out and see that the system we’re working in has a disparate impact on different communities, it can be hard to understand how our best efforts aren’t adding up to the creation of the fair and just system we all want to be a part of.