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From A Lawyer's View: OJD Out In the Field – Coming Soon to a Courthouse Near You

In recent months, you may have seen staff from our office lurking in your courtrooms, wrangling attorneys to talk, and having secret conversations with other court stakeholders.

What is going on? Is this a secret conspiracy??!!

No, actually it’s just OJD business as usual. Well, what used to be usual before 2020. You see, we firmly believe that the only way to get to know what’s going on in delinquency court is to actually go to court to see what’s happening. In fact, since OJD started in 2005, we’ve been travelling across the state observing court, meeting attorneys and other stakeholders.

But why do we do it – and what do we do with the information we gather?

Number 1: we’re trying to figure out what attorneys need in terms of training and technical support. These two things are top OJD priorities. We may ask questions such as:

· “Have you ever been to an OJD training?”

· “What was helpful/less helpful?”

· “Do you prefer remote or in person?”

· “What are some topics you’d like to see in the future?”

· “What are some tools, materials, or other online resources that would be helpful to you?”

Number 2: by observing court, we’re able to see what’s going on in local practice. There are 100 counties out there that do delinquency court a little differently from each other. Are you all using remote technology? What kinds of cases are being contested? What are the demographics of those being charged? Looking and listening for us is the best way of learning.

Number 3: We want to meet you, in person, on your turf. We have found that sometimes the best way to make friends is to simply come say hello, ask how things are going, and offer to help. You may think we’re kidding, but we’re not. One of the biggest compliments I ever received was when I was first starting I visited a small rural jurisdiction and was told I was the first “state official” to come to that court. This was great! But really we’re not coming to impress you, we’re coming to build relationships and hopefully a community of defenders statewide.

So please, say hello, give us your thoughts, and stay in touch! We’ll be coming soon to a courthouse near you.


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