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OJD's 2023 Youth Defender Forum Recap

Thank you for making OJD’s 2023 Youth Defender Forums a great success! In our second year of doing these regional forums, we trained in new places, met more attorneys, and taught defenders statewide about important and emerging topics in youth defense. As we start planning for our 2024 forums, we couldn’t let this year end without a sending a big thank you to you, the youth defender community for your support, involvement, and role in making these Youth Defender Forums successful!

This year, we held our Western Youth Defender Forum in Clyde, NC, our Central Forum in Graham, NC, and our Eastern Forum in Washington, NC.

With youth violence trends being a constant topic and narrative this year, our 2023 Youth Defender Forums focused on Defending Youth Charged with Violent Charges. At our trainings, attorneys learned about confidentiality and media coverage in these cases, defending school threats and possession of weapons on school grounds, trends in social media evidence for our young population, and legislative updates for youth in juvenile court. Some participants also engaged in a workshop where they brainstormed how to address these serious cases with other defenders in their region. And in our Western Youth Defender Forum, defenders were able to have a firearms 101 presentation where they received an overview of the some the weapons involved in some of our cases. We enjoyed all the interactions with defenders and the community building at each of the forums.

At each of our Forums, lunch was graciously provided by our regional sponsors. Thank you to the Law Office of Nathan Earwood, Jon Cox Law, and the Law Office of Jason Williams for supporting our training. Their sponsorship allowed attorneys and participants to enjoy lunch and snacks while they talked, brainstormed, and met other defenders from their region. We are grateful for their support and role in making these trainings a success.

We are also thankful for the help and support of our NC Community Colleges. This year, our forums were held at Haywood Community College, Alamance Community College, and Beaufort Community College. The Office of the Juvenile Defender extends our thanks for the use of the space and hospitality of all these institutions.

This year our Forums included speakers that traveled with us across the state. These trainings wouldn’t have been possible without our amazing speakers that took the time to train with us.

Thank you to:

  • Mary Wilson, Chief Juvenile Defender in the Wake County Public Defender’s Office

  • Jay Garcia, Senior Associate Attorney, Law Office of Eric Williams

  • Amanda Zimmer, Assistant Appellate Defender, Office of the Appellate Defender

  • David Andrews, Assistant Appellate Defender, Office of the Appellate Defender

  • Jack Waddell, Chief Investigator, Executive Investigations

Thank you all for your support, time, and commitment to ensuring excellent youth defense in our state.

As we gear up for our 2024 Youth Defender Forums, we’d love your input! If you have topic or location ideas, please send them our way ( In the meantime, thank you all again for your support of our trainings. We hope to see you next year at our 2024 Youth Defender Forums!


📍Haywood Community College / Clyde, NC

June 2, 2023


📍 Alamance Community College / Graham, NC

September 15, 2023


📍 Beaufort Community college / Washington, NC

December 1, 2023



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