Danielle Rivenbark

New Podcast: “Beyond the Bench”

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Last week I returned from vacation to a pleasant surprise.  The School’s first podcast—“Beyond the Bench,” has just launched.  The multi-talented Danielle Rivenbark had proposed piloting a podcast as an innovation fund project.  I funded her proposal because I wanted to learn whether a podcast could be a good platform for communicating information to public officials, as well as what kind of internal capacity might be needed to support podcasts.  It is too early to answer those questions, of course, but the first effort by Danielle and the Judicial College under Jeff’s leadership is terrific.

Beyond the Bench will be an interview-based podcast about North Carolina’s court system.  Jeff Welty is the host, and you can find his blog about it here.  The podcast series is intended for judges, lawyers, clerks, officers, and anyone else interested in learning more about the courts.  Guests will include judges, lawyers, professors, and citizens who have participated in court proceedings. The podcast will be organized by seasons, with each season focusing on a particular type of case–the first season focuses on criminal law.

Jeff Welty
Jeff Welty

The first episode includes two interviews.  One features John Rubin interviewing Superior Court Judge Mary Ann Tally.  John comes across as a polished interviewer, and Judge Tally’s discussion of her career as one of North Carolina’s first public defenders is particularly interesting.  She has overcome lots of obstacles to have an impressive career that has had a major impact.  Some law firms didn’t respond at all when she first applied for legal jobs in Fayetteville, for example, and others responded that they didn’t have any vacancies for a legal secretary.  Of course I love her unsolicited testimonial about the School’s value at the end of the interview.

The second features Jeff Welty interviewing our own Shea Denning about the law of distracted driving in North Carolina.  Jeff is a wonderful interviewer and Shea comfortably answers a rapid-fire series of hypothetical questions about the law.  I knew that North Carolina prohibited texting while driving, but I didn’t realize that it also make it illegal to read texts and emails while driving.  Not that I would do either of those things, of course.

John Rubin
John Rubin
Shea Denning
Shea Denning










Kudos to Danielle, Jeff, John, and Shea for kicking off the School’s first podcast in impressive fashion.  Jeff’s blog post tells you how to subscribe to the series, which I’ve already done using the Podcasts app on my iPhone.  I can’t wait for the next one.

3 thoughts on “New Podcast: “Beyond the Bench”

  1. For a long time I’ve wanted to do a Kahn Academy type of project on evaluation topics, but the cost/time/technology to pull it off was daunting. But this may be a great way to achieve the same goal – easy access to matter-of-fact questions on particular topics, I assume at significantly less cost, faster turn-around time and more accessible because people can listen to podcasts while doing other things, like driving (with the added bonus that it is not against the law.) I’m looking forward to hearing more about the details of doing it. Cool!

  2. I listened this evening from my computer (haven’t mastered the app on my phone yet) – great job Jeff, John, Shea, Judge Tally, and, of course, Danielle! The graphics on the webpage and the “in session” line are very catchy. The program was really easy to access and the audio was very clear. Overall, as good as NPR!

  3. From a non-legal perspective, I listened last week and the podcast captivated me. Great production value and great work all around. I applaud Danielle’s suggesting this new, innovative way for the School to inform public officials. Very impressive and well-done!

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