Local Collaboration Advances Bail Reform in North Carolina

Recorded On: 02/27/2020

In December of 2019, North Carolina's 21st Judicial District released a report on a promising bail reform project that went into effect on January 1, 2019. Join PJI's John Clark as he sits down with Jessie Smith, Director of the Criminal Justice Innovation Lab at the University of North Carolina and Chief District Court Judge Lisa Menefee of North Carolina's 21st Judicial District to talk about this project.

Jessica Smith

Director, UNC Criminal Justice Innovation Lab

Jessica Smith is the Director of the University of North Carolina's Criminal Justice Innovation Lab (http://cjil.sog.unc.edu/). The Lab brings together a broad range of stakeholders to learn about criminal justice problems, implement innovative consensus solutions, and measure the impact of their efforts. It seeks to promote a fair and effective criminal justice system, public safety, and economic prosperity through an evidence-based approach to criminal justice policy. Smith has offered numerous courses for trial and appellate judges and has taught sessions for prosecutors, defenders, law enforcement officers, magistrates and others. Her many books, chapters, articles, and other publications deal with criminal procedure, substantive criminal law, and evidence. Smith came to the School of Government in 2000 after practicing law at Covington & Burling in Washington, D.C., and clerking for Judge W. Earl Britt on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina and for Judge J. Dickson Phillips Jr. on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. In 2006, she received the Albert and Gladys Hall Coates Term Professorship for Teaching Excellence; in 2013, she was named by the Chancellor as a W. R. Kenan, Jr. Distinguished Professor, one of the University’s highest academic honors. Smith earned a BA, cum laude, from the University of Pennsylvania and a JD, magna cum laude, Order of the Coif, from the University of Pennsylvania Law School, where she was managing editor of the Law Review.

Judge Lisa Menefee

Chief District Judge, Forsyth District Court

Judge Lisa Menefee is the Chief District Judge of the Forsyth District Court in North Carolina, a position she has held since November 1, 2013.

Before becoming a judge, Menefee was an assistant district attorney for three years in the mid-1980s and then spent the rest of her career in private practice, handling criminal and civil cases and focusing on family law. She is a certified legal mediator and former executive director of the Neighborhood Justice Center.

Menefee was also instrumental in starting the county’s mental-health court, which allows defendants charged with nonviolent offenses to seek mental-health treatment.

Former Gov. Jim Hunt appointed Menefee in 1999 as Forsyth County’s eighth district-court judge. State legislators created the judicial seat in 1998.

John Clark

Senior Associate, Technical Assistance

Contact: john@pretrial.org

John Clark is a Senior Manager for Technical Assistance at the Pretrial Justice Institute (PJI).  In over thirty years at PJI, John has provided technical assistance to thousands of entities around the country on implementing evidence-based pretrial justice practices. He has authored numerous articles relating to pretrial justice in such publications as: the American Bar Association’s The Improvement of the Administration of Justiceseries; The Encyclopedia of Criminology and Criminal Justice;the Journal of Court Innovation; and Judicature.

He began his career in the pretrial justice field in the 1970s as a pretrial services officer in the District of Columbia. He has a Master’s Degree in the Administration of Justice from American University. He is the recipient of the Ennis J. Olgiati Award from the National Association of Pretrial Services Agencies for lifetime commitment to pretrial justice.

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