NPR: Public Defender Points To ‘Growing Frustration’ Over ‘Unjust System’

Transcript of yesterday’s interview of Kevin Tully, the Mecklenburg County public defender, by NPR.

Audio of Interview:


Statement of Mecklenburg County Public Defender

      As Public Defender for Mecklenburg County, my heart is breaking for the individuals and families of  Charlotte. I want to call on the members of our community to restore peace. Each of us has their role in that.

     The greater Charlotte community must acknowledge that the fears, anger, and frustrations that underlie the current unrest are real and legitimate. The criminal court system is structurally unjust and has generally failed the greater community, but has specifically failed the poor and minority communities here.

     The protestors, as well as the police, must do all they can to prevent continued violence and destruction.  These actions only serve to detract from the call for tangible reform of the criminal court system.

     All people in our community must pledge to take meaningful, productive action to bring about long overdue reforms. The flaws and failings of our current system must be the focus of these actions.

     All meaningful change begins with the act of understanding.  After 27 years of fighting against the inequities and injustices of the system, even I have much to learn and understand. As a start to understanding, I am glad to listen.  Anyone wishing to discuss the current state of our local criminal court system and the needed reforms, is invited to contact me.

     It bears noting that Mecklenburg County has been taking action to address the local systemic issues and inequities.  While our Office is a State funded agency, our local government provides additional funds to better staff and resource our Office. They regularly bring local criminal court agencies together to discuss, plan, and implement, improvements. These efforts have included facing even the most difficult but glaring issues of race and poverty. However, since North Carolina operates a unified State court system, much of the needed changes can only be achieved through changes at the State Legislative level.

     I pledge to this community that their Public Defender Office will continue to listen, learn, and act.  This incredibly talented and committed staff will not stop playing our part in solving these issues and healing our community.  Kevin P. Tully

Mecklenburg County Public Defender

(704) 607-5403

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