MCB Announcements

MECKLENBURG COUNTY COURTS TO RESUME JURY TRIALS

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
OCTOBER 20, 2020


MECKLENBURG COUNTY COURTS TO RESUME JURY TRIALS


CHARLOTTE, NC — Mecklenburg County court officials have announced that jury trials will soon resume. Chief Justice Cheri Beasley had suspended jury trials since March as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. In July, the Chief Justice directed senior resident superior court judges to craft and submit local plans for the safe resumption of jury trials as part of the Judicial Branch’s efforts to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and keep the public and court employees safe.  
The first jury trials in Mecklenburg County are expected to be held November 16, 2020.  Jury summons were sent the week of October 12, 2020.  To adhere to social distancing requirements, only two superior courtrooms will operate. Separate jury panels will be summoned in morning and afternoon groups. 


“We want the public to know that we have implemented a number of safety precautions in consultation with local public health officials to make sure that anyone who needs to access our courthouse and those who are called upon to serve on a jury can do so safely,” said Judge Bob Bell, Senior Resident Superior Court Judge. “We are grateful for the partnership with our county officials who continue to work alongside us to make sure our courts remain open, accessible, and safe.”  


The full Administrative Order, outlining the Resumption of Jury Trials Plan for the 26th Judicial District, pursuant to Chief Justice Beasley’s Emergency Directive 22 may be found here. Since March, Chief Justice Beasley has issued a number of emergency directives to guide court operations through the pandemic. Those directives have, among other things, allowed many court hearings to be held by teleconference, waived certain notary requirements for court documents, and required social distancing and face coverings in court facilities.  


In July, the Chief Justice directed senior resident superior court judges to begin crafting plans for the safe resumption of jury trials. The plans were to be crafted in collaboration with the chief district court judge, trial court administrator, clerk of superior court, district attorney, public defender, sheriff, and public health director. Each plan was required to include several basic components, such as daily screening for trial participants, conducting jury selection, trial, and deliberations with social distancing, and plans for providing face coverings.

“I extend my deepest thanks to our elected officials all across North Carolina who have worked so hard to carefully craft these plans and tailor them to the needs of their local community,” said Chief Justice Beasley. “I want to reassure the public and all potential jurors that their safety continues to be our top priority.”


For the health and safety of the public, only those who have business with the court will be allowed inside the courthouse. The public is required to wear a face covering on their mouth and nose in all common areas and when interacting with others inside of the courthouse. Courthouse hours of operation are 8:00am until 5:00pm, Monday through Friday. The Clerk of Superior Court’s Office hours of operation are 9:00am until 3:00pm, Monday through Friday.  

For the latest information regarding the status of our courts, visit https://www.nccourts.gov/covid-19.

 


Nominations Sought for Julius L. Chambers Diversity Champion Award

The Julius L. Chambers Diversity Champion Award is presented each year by the Mecklenburg County Bar through its Diversity & Inclusion Committee. Its purpose is to recognize an attorney who champions diversity and inclusion in Mecklenburg County while embodying high ethical standards, unquestioned integrity and consistent competence. Nominations are due on or before Friday, November 6, 2020, and should be addressed to members of the MCB Diversity & Inclusion Committee, sent to ChambersAward@meckbar.org or 2850 Zebulon Avenue, Charlotte, NC 28208. The award will be presented to the selected recipient at the McMillan Fund Fellowship Dinner.

Nominees must be attorneys based in Mecklenburg County who have demonstrated exemplary leadership and impact in the following areas:

  • Diversity within the Bar - through facilitation of recruitment, hiring, retention and promotion of diverse individuals in the legal profession.
  • Community Service - through provision of outstanding service and education to the community about diversity and inclusion.
  • Ambassador for Diversity and Inclusion Programs - through promotion of behaviors and initiatives associated with diversity and inclusion in the legal profession and through the Mecklenburg County Bar  
  • Advancement in Law - through legal work that had embraced and propelled the ideal of diversity and inclusion.  

The Award is fittingly named after its first honoree, the distinguished civil rights attorney Julius L. Chambers. Mr. Chambers represented the plaintiffs in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school desegregation case Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education.


Help the YLD Education Committee!



The YLD Education Committee is creating a "day in the life" video series as a way to increase awareness, understanding and knowledge of what being an attorney is actually like. To that end, the Committee is seeking volunteers to be featured in the video. In particular, we are looking for attorneys who practice in the following environments:

  • Private practice
  • Government (including prosecutors and public defenders)
  • In-House Counsel
  • Non-profit

The people featured in the videos will give brief explanations of their day-to-day lives as attorneys and speak generally about what its like to practice law in their work environment. More detailed questions will be provided before shooting the video.

If this is something you are interested in, please reach out to Austin Backus (Backus_austin@hotmail.com) for further information.


Mental Health Resources

Greetings Colleagues,

After more than five months of dealing with the changes, disappointments, limitations, and uncertainties brought about by the pandemic, all of us are experiencing more stress and anxiety in our professional and personal lives than perhaps ever before. Practicing law is a difficult and demanding occupation in its own right; when the complexities of living through a pandemic are added to the mix, there is a real potential for ourselves and our colleagues at the bar to suffer more from anxiety, depression, alcohol or drug problems, and burnout. Left unaddressed, these troubles will detrimentally impact our personal lives, our families, and our ability to represent clients and serve the justice system.

There are resources available to help you weather the storm and build resilience in the process. The State Bar’s Lawyer Assistance Program (LAP) is a place to start. The program maintains a comprehensive list of resources on topics from “Stress, Anxiety, Grief & Resilience During the Public Health Crisis” to “Staying Busy and Healthy while Social Distancing.” Check out the Resource Guide and the Mental and Emotional Well-Being Toolkit

Sidebar is the e-newsletter of the LAP. The most frequently visited Sidebar articles on coping during COVID-19 have been compiled. Take a break from your commitments to read an article.

The LAP also has licensed counselors who provide counseling, crisis management, intervention assistance, assessments, referrals to outside resources (such as therapists and treatment centers), long-term aftercare case management and follow up, on-going support, or just a safe space to discuss your issues. Contact the LAP today.

Self-care is critical to our well-being and to our competency as lawyers. We must also remember our responsibilities to our colleagues at the bar. If you know a lawyer who is struggling, please direct the lawyer to the resources mentioned above and, if appropriate, contact the LAP to give an anonymous and confidential referral. 

Our excellent North Carolina professional associations, including the NC Bar Association and the NC Advocates for Justice, also have resources to help their members during this uniquely challenging time. Check out the Bar Association’s resource page and its BarCARES program; and the Advocates’ resource page. Laura Mahr’s website, Conscious Legal Minds, also has resources available. Finally, the CDC’s website page on coping with job stress and building resilience during COVID-19 is also helpful.

Stay safe and take care of your health, including your mental health.

Alice Neece Mine
Executive Director


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