Five years ago, the UNC School of Government published a unique manual, Raising Issues of Race in North Carolina Criminal Cases, as part of our Defender Manual Series. Supported by a grant from the Z Smith Reynolds Foundation, the manual examines how issues of race and bias can improperly influence criminal processes and outcomes, and it suggests strategies for lawyers to consider when addressing these issues. I coauthored the manual with former Defender Educator Alyson A. Grine, Professor John Rubin edited it, and a stellar volunteer advisory board, including James Williams, Tye Hunter, Rich Rosen, Mary Pollard, and Breana Smith, provided guidance during the creation of the manual.
Last week I had the pleasure of hosting around 40 attorneys for the second part of a new course, Higher Level Felony Defense. The first part, held in early 2018, focused primarily on preparing a case for trial. We also included a deep dive into jury selection. This second part focused on common issues in serious felony cases as well on sentencing advocacy. As a new program, I’m sure it will evolve, but I thought the first iteration was promising and wanted to talk briefly about the program and our goals.