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CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – The Chapel Hill-Carrboro, Orange County and Chatham County branches of the NAACP, in partnership with the District 18 Bar, are hosting a virtual public defender candidate forum Feb. 3 at 6:30 p.m.

The role of the public defender will be summarized by James E. Williams, the former District 18 public defender who served for more than 20 years, followed by candidate introductions and a question-and-answer session, including questions submitted by members of the community.

“The Public Defender is an essential stakeholder in the criminal justice system,” says Orange County Criminal Justice Resource Director Caitlin Fenhagen, who will moderate the forum. “First and foremost, the Public Defender is a zealous advocate for the accused, and must ensure that the constitutional and other legal rights of their low-income clients are protected with effective, ethical and high-quality representation.

“In addition, the Public Defender is a voice for those most impacted by the criminal justice system and must have a connection to the community they serve, understand what leads to justice involvement and be willing to address and challenge the bias and racial disparities that exist.”

Anyone interested in attending can join via this link, beginning at 6:15 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 3. Questions for candidates can be submitted here by Jan. 30.

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