Court Leader’s Advantage Podcast: January 2020 Episode

It has been estimated that nationally, more than 60 percent of people in jail have not been convicted of a crime, they are awaiting trial.  Almost 500,000 defendants are in jail pretrial because they cannot afford to post bail.  Three-quarters of pretrial detainees have been charged with a drug or property crime.  They could remain incarcerated for days, months, and sometimes even years.  They could lose their jobs, lose contact with loved ones, and lose the ability to care for their families. 

Many courts across the country are implementing bail reform.  Bail reform allows more defendants charged with lower-level crimes to stay out of jail before trial, stay on their jobs, and stay in the community.

  What has been the experience of those courts that have implemented bail reform?  Judge Roy Wiggins and Judge Elizabeth Trosch, from North Carolina’s 26th Judicial District in the City of Charlotte, discuss their Court’s experience implementing bail reform.  How is it working and what we can expect?

This is an intriguing podcast episode for listeners curious about bail, bail reform, managing pretrial defendants, courts, and court administration.

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About the Speakers

District Court Judge Elizabeth Trosch has presided over both Civil and Criminal District Courtrooms in Charlotte, North Carolina with an emphasis on Juvenile Law, Domestic Violence, Drug Treatment Court and Child Support Enforcement.  In her capacity as a District Court Judge, Judge Trosch has also presided over the Mecklenburg County Youth Treatment Court and consistently volunteers to hold truancy court at a local elementary school.  She is State Certified Juvenile Court Judge and has earned Domestic Child Sex Trafficking Judicial Institute Certificate.

Judge Trosch is a graduate of Hollins College, where she earned a B.A. in Philosophy and Social Psychology.  She earned her law degree at Wake Forest University School of Law where she was a recipient of the North Carolina State Bar Pro Bono Service Award.

Judge Trosch has served on the Mecklenburg County Domestic Violence Advisory Board and is former lead Domestic Violence Judge.  She serves on the Race Matters for Juvenile Justice Leadership Team, the Child Fatality Prevention and Protection Team, the Project No Rest Anti-Human Trafficking Executive Committee and co-chairs the Mecklenburg Equitable Justice Leadership Collaborative. Additionally, Judge Trosch serves as the Charlotte Model Court Lead Judge, working as a liaison between the Charlotte Model Court Collaborative and the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, to carry out systems change that will positively impact outcomes in child welfare cases. 

Judge Trosch has presented on topics such as the Impact of Childhood Traumatic Stress on Behavior and Learning, Building Trauma Informed Courts, The Role of the Courts in Domestic Violence Cases, and Implicit Bias at both state and national conferences.  Judge Trosch has worked collaboratively with child welfare and juvenile justice partners to create trauma informed court practices and systems of care. 

Judge Roy H. Wiggins received his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, in 1984 (Deans List, Honor Roll) from East Carolina University.  He received his Juris Doctor (Cum Laude) from the Campbell University School of Law in 1990.  He was with the Mecklenburg County District Attorney’s Office (Assistant District Attorney) from 1991 to 1995.  He was in private practice from 1995 to 2018.  In 2018 he was appointed by North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper to serve as a District Court Judge.

Sonya L. Harper has been Director of Mecklenburg County’s Criminal Justice Services Department since June 2016. Harper came to the County from The National Association of Drug Court Professionals, where she worked as project director and point of contact for the National Drug Court Resource Center. In that role, she provided instruction and technical assistance on program development and program improvement processes to more than 2,800 drug courts throughout the United States and its territories.

Harper is a proven leader in the principles of problem-solving courts, having presented on evidence-based and research supported practices at the national level. Harper’s prior work experience includes serving as the director of Wake County Drug Treatment Courts and as substance abuse program manager.

Harper earned a bachelor of arts degree in criminal justice from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, and a master of public administration degree from Appalachian State University.

Do You Want to Learn More?

The Bail Policy for 26th Judicial District including the Mecklenburg County Release Conditions Matrix.

One thought on “Is Bail Reform Working? Charlotte’s Revealing Story

  1. Peter, while it was interesting to hear the process etc. here. From my perspective as a former presiding judge who had to manage dockets, it would be interesting to what, if any, change occurs over the next year or two in their failure to appear rate. I am guessing that it will increase, and the real question will be, by how much.



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