This blog post has good news, bad news, and good news about Alyson Grine, who has served as the School’s defender educator for ten years. During that time, Alyson and I worked closely together on indigent defense education, and I wanted to write this farewell on the School’s behalf. The good news is that she is excited to start her new position this fall as an assistant professor at North Carolina Central University School of Law, and we are excited for her. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org. The bad news is that she will be leaving the School, and to put it mildly we are sorry to see her go. Then again, the good news is that she leaves a remarkable record of accomplishments in indigent defense education, on which we can continue to build. What has she done in the past ten years? The more apt question is what hasn’t she done.
Alyson has been a course designer. Her annual, multi-day training programs for new misdemeanor and new felony defenders have helped legions of attorneys develop their knowledge and skills. Each year she magically weaved together North Carolina’s public defender attorney conference, a veritable three-ring circus of topics and presenters of significance to new and experienced defenders. To expand training opportunities for indigent defenders, Alyson worked tirelessly with organizations inside and outside North Carolina, including the North Carolina Advocates for Justice, local bar associations, Southern Public Defender Training Center (now, Gideon’s Promise), and public defender organizations in other states. Perhaps most telling, when other organizations held “train-the-trainer” programs to improve their training efforts, they called on Alyson to share her expertise.
Alyson has been a teacher. She taught an array of criminal law topics in courses she designed and, as word of her skills spread, others’ courses. Alyson not only mastered the substance of the material she sought to convey but as important the craft of conveying it. Based on nominations from her peers, Alyson was honored with the 2013-14 Albert and Gladys Hall Coates Teaching Excellence Award by the School of Government.
Alyson has been a writer. She created an orientation manual for new public defenders, was an early blogger on the School’s criminal law blog, and co-authored reference manuals on juvenile law, pretrial criminal procedure, and issues of race in criminal cases (more on that below). Her work was instrumental in creating the Indigent Defense Manual Series, an online collection of manuals on different indigent defense practice areas.
Perhaps most important, Alyson has been an innovator. She developed new online educational resources, including “lunchinars” and other online sessions for busy practitioners. She worked with the Forensic Resource Counsel at North Carolina’s Office of Indigent Defense Services to provide training on emerging forensics issues and, in the process, launched a series she dubbed Evenings at the School of Government (black tie not required) to deliver information about forensics and other topics. The work she has done on race has been groundbreaking. She co-authored the first-of-its-kind manual on issues of race in criminal cases, for which she received the Margaret Taylor writing award from the School. Building on the manual, she developed targeted training for defenders and other court officials, helping them address difficult issues openly and constructively.
Alyson has also been active in the life of the School, readily lending a hand to colleagues with their work, cheerfully taking on committee responsibilities, and even contributing her family’s famed chipotle black bean chili to the School’s annual chili fest.
It’s impossible to capture in a few words what Alyson has meant to indigent defense education in North Carolina. You can get a glimpse of the impact she has had by browsing our indigent defense education microsite and looking at the resources she created. Please feel free to crash her email, email@example.com, to tell her how she touched your work and to wish her well in her new endeavors.