, Press Release

Task Force on ACEs-Informed Courts Holds First Meeting

The Task Force is co-chaired by AOC Director Judge Andrew Heath and Ben David, DA of New Hanover and Pender Counties.

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The Chief Justice's Task Force on ACEs-Informed Courts held its first meeting today, August 20. The mission of the Task Force is to enable Judicial Branch stakeholders to understand the impact on children of exposure to ACEs (adverse childhood experiences; adverse community environments) and to develop strategies for addressing adverse consequences within our court system. Quarterly meetings will be held around the state.

“We are pleased to hold the first meeting of the Task Force on ACEs-Informed Courts,” said Chief Justice Paul Newby. “The Task Force is eager to begin the work that we anticipate will produce positive outcomes for our children and our communities.”

To accomplish this mission, the Task Force will:

  • Provide judges and court administrators with practical education on the effects of ACEs;
  • Equip juvenile court officials to recognize young offenders and victims impacted by ACEs;
  • Identify existing programs and design new programs that intervene in the lives of young ACEs offenders and victims affected by ACEs to put them on a path away from the courthouse and into a successful adult life; and
  • Provide a platform from which court officials can offer feedback to educators regarding their experiences, with the hope of creating further avenues for research on this important topic.

The Task Force is co-chaired by Judge Andrew T. Heath, director of the North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts, and District Attorney Ben David for New Hanover and Pender counties. Task Force members are appointed by Chief Justice Newby and are representative of all stakeholder groups within our court system: judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, clerks, law enforcement, private attorneys, and child-representatives, as well as academic leaders. This talented, experienced, and diverse group is supplemented with an advisory group made up of subject matter experts as well as representatives from law schools, universities, the Executive Branch, and private foundations.

Visit the Task Force’s website to learn more. 

Members of the Task Force on ACEs-Informed Courts
Pictured from left to right: NCDPS Deputy General Counsel LaToya Powell, GAL District Administrator Nalini Joseph, District Attorney Spencer Merriweather, District Court Judge Quintin McGee, Chief Public Defender Robert (Bert) Kemp, District Attorney Ben David, CMPD Chief Johnny Jennings, Chief Justice Paul Newby, Attorney Jack Marin, NCAOC Director Judge Andrew Heath, District Attorney Robert (Seth) Banks, District Court Judge Mario Perez, Elder John Amanchukwu, Clerk of Superior Court Meredith Edwards, Chief District Court Judge Angelica McIntyre, and NCAOC Training and Services Director Mike Silver  [not pictured: Senior Resident Superior Court Judge Phyllis Gorham, David Levi (Levi Family Professor of Law and Judicial Studies and Director of the Bolch Judicial Institute), Sheriff David Mahoney, Amelia Thorn (Bolch Judicial Institute Assistant Director of Special Projects and Articles Editor at Judicature), Superior Court Judge Charles (Casey) Viser, and Bishop Patrick Wooden].