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Greene|Wilson|Crow Attorney, Guy Smith speaker at Perinatal Mental Health and Criminal Justice Expert Witness Course.

The Perinatal Mental Health and Criminal Justice Expert Witness Course held on July 12, 2020 was presented by a panel of legal and clinical experts in the field of maternal mental illness and the law. The seminar was designed to increase the competence and proficiency of clinical professionals in preparation for the role of expert witness in the criminal justice system, using practical, evidence-based, and case-based information. The seminar lead faculty was criminal defense attorney George Parnham, JD, expert on the defense of individuals with mental illness and a passionate advocate for legal reform of their treatment in the criminal justice system. Attorney Guy Smith spoke about the role of the attorney and the role of expert witness.

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COURTS OPEN THIS WEEK

After careful consideration by our state and local court leaders, North Carolina Courts resume an abridged but steady course of business this week—June 1, 2020. Judges, the District Attorney’s Office, Court personnel, County leaders, and Sheriffs and law enforcement, have worked very hard to establish procedures to keep you and others safe.  But, these procedures are only as good as the individual following them.  Common sense remains the key ingredient to keeping each other safe, in and out of the courthouse.  As mentioned in the last POST, please stay in good touch with your attorney to determine if you need to be in court, and put them in a position to resolve your case with or without you.  If you are required in the courthouse, strictly follow the rules as posted or as directed by law enforcement and court personnel.  They are for your safety and others.  Most of all, be patient so you can ensure you and others don’t become a patient.

We are keeping this post short for the purposes of requesting we all take a moment of silent reflection for the over 100,000 lives lost in this pandemic, and the other recent tragedies which have befallen our Country this past week.    

Tom Wilson

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When will Courts Reopen?

We would love to use this Blog entry to give you an update as to when courts will reopen, when defendants can face trial or resolve matters, when domestic situations can be worked out or at least litigated before a judge, when property disputes can be settled, damages ordered, and wills and estates clarified and settled and closed.  But, frankly, we just don’t know. What we can say, with some confidence, is that we are close.

North Carolina’s Chief Justice Cheri Beasley has engaged a Task Force (made up of district and superior court judges, DAs, Public Defenders and private attorneys) to handle the soft Court resumption date of June 1, and what that will look like.  The Task Force is working on how calendar backlogs will be caught up, large calendars managed while maintaining relative social distancing in the courthouse, handling of inmates to and from court, document and exhibit handling in the courtroom, and interaction with and between district attorneys, judges, clerks, bailiffs, and attorneys.  Juries are of course one of the most tricky issues to address. The grand jury (juries tasked to determine the existence of probable cause sufficient to indict a felony case) and the petite jury (juries summoned to sit and hear trials and find facts, usually in small stuffy rooms with a single toilet) are by their very nature sequestered bodies. We will keep you posted as soon as the Chief Justice releases the more defined findings and game plan from the Task Force (likely this week). Please understand, our clients in Craven might have a very different situation than our client in Carteret, Pamlico, or Jones—all counties are likely to put their own fingerprint on the Task Force’s recommendations.  Indeed, no two counties have the same physical facilities that are so determinative on how safe distancing will be navigated while the work of the courts is achieved.

Regardless, even now, be mindful of the following: 

  1. If you have matters pending before the court, particularly  of a criminal nature, it is a good time to get a very reasonable result in your case where there will be a priority on moving cases, so make sure your attorney has everything they need to resolve your case;
  2. Check with your attorney before going to their office or the Courthouse, even after June 1—you might not need to go (but check!) and spare yourself and others any risk to keep the curb flat or declining; and,
  3. Our courthouse personnel (be it Judges, bailiffs, clerks, DAs) are on the front lines of human interaction every day, trying to process aspects of your case and thousands of others. So be as respectful and polite as ever. They are putting themselves at risk to keep our society orderly and moving forward. 

Thank you and be safe. 

Tom Wilson

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