On Tuesday, July 21, 2020, the Judicial Working Group met at the Bladen County Courthouse. Bladen County District Attorney Jon David, and Bladen County’s Chief Prosecutor, Attorney, Quintin McGee, lead the meeting.
The meeting was held to discuss Bladen County’s judicial equality and other issues with the legal system.
There were no judges or law enforcement present at the meeting. The County of Bladen manager, Greg Martin was in attendance, along with Bladen County Board of Commissioner members, Arthur Bullock, Dr. Opheila Munn-Goins, and Michael Cogdell. Bladen County Health and Human Services Director, Dr. Terri Ducan, Bladen County Substance Abuse Task Force Director, Dr. Cathy Gantz, Bladen Community College President, Dr. Amanda Lee, and several other community members were present during the meeting.
David and McGee lead the meeting with a question and answer type format for the discussions.
When asked about the judicial system being more involved in the community, McGee said, “We have an open-door policy.”
David said, “We support our schools, our boy scouts, and have attended many community events.”
Some members in attendance asked how to be involved with the judicial process.
McGee said, “You can be a part of the process when you show up and stand up for jury duty.”
Advocates are needed for minors caught in the court system. The Guardian Ad Litem is seeking volunteers.
When asked about interpreters, McGee said the courts have access to Spanish, sign languages, and many other interpreters for those who need them with a hotline service.
When asked about drug court, David explained more community support and financial support are needed before a drug court could be facilitated in Bladen County.
David also announced a new law was passed in December of 2019, offering a pathway forward to take felony charges off records for those who committed crimes in their youth.
When asked multiple times by an audience member about the hiring practices of African Americans in different divisions in the county, David and McGee responded. The answers to hiring questions, not about the judicial system, could not be answered. Still, they stated, “We pride ourselves in diversity” and recruit for our office with diversity in mind.
David also explained that the district attorney’s office reviews the jail list each week to ensure the bail release program is working as it should, and no one is held unjustly.
There were discussions about mistrust and the need to hear from the judicial department and law enforcement. The group talked about ways citizens may address complaints with law enforcement and judicial employees. The group decided the judicial and law enforcement working groups should be combined and held together instead of meeting separately.
There was a law enforcement working group meeting planned for Tuesday, July 28. However, it has been postponed.
The plan is for the judicial and law enforcement working groups to meet together instead of separately. There was also a suggestion for an economic working group to meet.
More information will be published as soon as it becomes available in regards to the working groups.