Legal Decision Making Training

The Buncombe County Justice Advisory Group invites you to a special day-long training on decision-making and implicit bias featuring leading national and state trainers on this topic. Implicit biases are “attitudes or stereotypes that affect our understanding, decision-making, and behavior, without our even realizing it.”[1] This is an emerging field of research with important implications for our court system. We are excited to have Kimberly Papillion of and Judge Mark Bennett from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Iowa to train our community on the neuroscience of decision-making and strategies for addressing implicit bias in our court system. The program will also feature Dr. Eric Howard, Director of Buncombe County’s Veterans’ Treatment Court, and a discussion facilitated by Professor James Drennan of the UNC School of Government.

It will be held on April 21, 2017 in the Buncombe County Government/TD Bank Building (1st Floor Conference Room, 200 College Street, Asheville NC 28801). The program starts at 8:45 AM and will include lunch. CLE credit for the program is pending approval. To register for the program, please click here or contact Kim Moretz ( with Pre-trial Services or Yolanda Fair ( with the Public Defender’s Office. Spaces are limited, please register as soon as possible. Registration is free.

Featured Speakers:

Kimberly Papillon, Esq. is a nationally recognized expert on legal and judicial decision making. She has delivered over 300 lectures nationally and internationally to audiences including prosecutors, law enforcement officials, judges, and public defenders, on the implications of neuroscience, psychology and implicit association in the analysis of decision-making.

Judge Mark Bennett is in his twenty-third year as a district judge in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Iowa. He has written and lectured extensively about implicit bias in the legal system, having helped train more than 1,500 state and federal judges from Alaska to Florida and many more lawyers. He has conducted empirical research on state and federal judges about how implicit bias affects their decision-making. He is also the first judge in the nation to instruct jurors on implicit bias.

Dr. Eric Howard, MSW has over 16 years of experience working with disenfranchised communities in various fields, including many years of service as a school social worker for Asheville City Schools. He now serves as coordinator for Veteran’s Treatment Court in Buncombe County where he leads a team of professionals who provide comprehensive support for veterans facing criminal charges and struggle with mental health and trauma related issues.

Professor James C. Drennan joined the School of Government (then the Institute of Government) in 1974. He teaches and advises on court administration issues, judicial ethics and fairness, criminal sentencing, and judicial leadership. While on leave from 1993 through 1995, he served as director of the North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts.