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Collaboration was the word of the week

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By Michael Silver, on May 23, 2014

It’s my second week blogging and I haven’t been fired! So far; so good! Last week a lot happened worth sharing.

Monday I was at the School of Government teaching the “Organizational and Administrative Aspects of Being a Prosecutor” at new prosecutors school. As an MPA@UNC student, I don’t get to Chapel Hill often so it is always nice to be on campus. I do question why there is never Top of the Hill socials when I am in town, but that is another issue for another day.

Teaching organization to new prosecutors is tricky because every lawyer thinks they were born organized (ha!) and every office is different. To attempt to make the training relevant to the participants, I call the district court supervisors of the large counties and a few supervisors of the smaller districts and try to teach the broad, central themes that all offices share. This is my third year teaching this course through the North Carolina Conference of District Attorneys. We’ll see if they let me come back next year.

Thursday, I organized the Winston-Salem Police Department Officer Rookie Courtroom Training. This training allows for the elected district attorney, the head public defender, and others to speak about the role the new officers will have within the judicial system. After the guest speakers, and a brief presentation I give, we simulate misdemeanor trials. Officers get on the stand and are direct-examined by prosecutors and cross-examined by defense attorneys from the public defender’s office and the local bar. The theme of the training is honesty and credibility.

We hope that the officers see the collaboration between the district attorney’s office and the defense bar, as well as the common theme of honesty and credibility, as a model for how the justice system can work despite the different objectives of each agency.

Friday I was in Raleigh for the North Carolina Domestic Violence Commission Meeting. The meeting was very productive. I learned a lot about The Clery Act and modifications created by the Campus SaVE Act from Monika Johnson Hostler and The North Carolina Coalition against Sexual Assault. I also met domestic violence expert, and UNC SOG professor Cheryl Daniels Howell. We discussed one of the batterer intervention committee goals and she gave good advice about working on the commission.

Sadly, Forsyth County Manager, and UNC MPA alumni J. Dudley Watts, Jr. has finished his last term on the commission and attended his last meeting. He does great work in our county and hopefully we’ll get another project together soon so I can post about it.

Finally, next week is a felony trial week and I have two cases, which likely will get reached, on the calendar. My summer intern from Wake Forest was surprised about the coordination and inter and intra agency collaboration it takes to get a trial prepared to be heard before a jury. First, I have a lot of meetings with law enforcement agencies getting reports, evidence, and all information that must be provided to the defense.  Then, scheduling a week to hold a hearing that is acceptable to the defense attorney, my victim(s), law enforcement, and myself can be tricky.

Further, coordinating with my office to create an equitable trial order so other assistant district attorneys can have their cases heard in a timely manner can be problematic. The clerk’s office must be notified about calling in jurors and court reporters and judges all have to be in place. Finally, if the defendant is in custody, the jail must bring him over and have civilian clothes for him to wear. A superior court trial is an amazing collaborative effort between several different agencies.

From interagency collaborations within my office to working with agencies locally and state-wide, the theme for the week was “collaborate!”

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