For today’s post, I conducted a short interview with Tom Maher, the executive director of the Office of Indigent Defense Services (IDS), the statewide agency in North Carolina that oversees the provision of legal representation for indigent defendants in criminal and other cases. We talk about the recent raise in the rates for private assigned counsel doing high-level felony work, the status of public defense funding in North Carolina, and the importance of a robust system of indigent defense generally. Readers may be aware that I served as a private assigned counsel for many years before coming to work at the School of Government, and it’s a topic near and dear to me. Indigent defense is equally important for court actors and citizens of the state, and I hope you find the interview informative. It runs around 13 minutes, with minor edits for the sake of time and clarity. Click here to watch.
Speaking of high-level felonies, we are in the process of planning a new training that will focus on defending serious felony cases. The idea behind the new course is to supplement the existing defender trainings with a focus on the most common, serious non-capital felonies. Among many other defender trainings, we hold programs for new misdemeanor and new felony defenders as well as a week-long trial school where attendees bring their own case and “try” out their trial skills. We hope that this advanced felony course will become a regular training program for attorneys handling or aspiring to handle serious felonies, and I expect to be announcing dates for it by late winter. Our Indigent Defense Education page, here, has links to our calendar of live trainings, online CLE offerings, and other resources for defenders if readers want to keep an eye on upcoming training opportunities. It also features another new service we are rolling out: customized local training brought to you by the IDE team (thanks to the efforts of Austine Long at the School). Check it out if you’re interested in hosting a local training.
Thanks to Tom Maher for doing the interview and another big thank you to Random Gott at the School for his tech support in putting all of this together. I should probably mention that this is my first attempt at something like this (done in one take no less), so please pardon any clumsiness on my part as interviewer. On a somewhat-unrelated note, if we could all refrain from using the abominable “vlog”, I’d appreciate it.
I hope everyone has a safe and happy holiday. One thing for which I’m particularly thankful is all the attorneys out there helping indigent clients in a variety of ways. If that’s something that matters to you as well, take some time this holiday season to thank your local public defenders, legal aid attorneys, and anyone else working to ensure that all people have quality representation regardless of their income.