Diversionary Programs for Youth
Judge Maris spent 10 years volunteering with The Durham County Teen Court & Restitution Program as a volunteer judge, teen mentor, Board President and Chair (2008-2018). She also participated in the first Misdemeanor Diversion Program (MDP) in North Carolina for youth ages 16-21 as an Assistant Public Defender, a program founded by Rep. Marcia Morey, Judge Maris's predecessor on the bench. Both programs help youthful offenders keep their records clean and hold them accountable for delinquent behavior. Judge Maris continues to volunteer to train new Teen Court student volunteers to present.
School Discipline & Safety
Judge Maris is dedicated to improving the relationship between the school system and court system to see that our kids stay in the classroom and out of the courtroom. Judge Maris would like to see an innovative School-Justice Partnership in Durham that places more emphasis on school discipline reform. We must work harder to reduce the influx of youth into our juvenile justice and criminal justice systems. This is a goal Judge Maris has pursued as a board member in Rebound - Alternatives for Youth, in other community groups and as a judge.
As a former co-chair of the Education Team in the Durham People's Alliance, Maris was on a joint committee with the Education Chairs of the Durham Committee on the Affairs of Black People (DCABP) in 2016-2017 that examined revisions to the Durham Public Schools Code of Conduct and the resulting 5-year implementation plan aimed at reducing out-of-school suspensions and racial disparities present. Maris will continue to work with those committed to reducing school suspensions and referrals to our courts with emphasis instead on more rehabilitative and supportive endeavors to see that all children are afforded the same opportunities at success in school and life.
"Community engagement is crucial to my idea of public service." -Judge Maris
Expunction Opportunities & Second Chances for All
In 2008, Judge Maris co-founded the first public expunction clinic in Durham (and the state) in a partnership with Legal Aid of NC as a member of the Durham County Bar Association's Public Service Committee. This was in response to a growing need in our community for relief from collateral consequences of convictions, and for many people, from dismissals. The clinics later expanded with the help of the N.C. Central University School of Law Criminal Litigation Clinic.
Now, as a judge, Maris has worked in collaboration with a broad group of partners in local government, the community and the courts to develop a first of its kind court referral program that dramatically increased access to expunctions and driver's license restoration in Durham. The Durham Expunction and Restoration (DEAR) Program (linked here) is designed to help thousands of eligible persons waiting for relief of limited financial means to obtain a fresh start at life in the areas of employment, housing and education. Since its public launch in 2019, over 14,000 individuals have received help restoring their licenses and tens of thousands of eligible criminal charges have been expunged. (See the "News and Events" Page for more articles about the DEAR Program and Judge Maris's continued role.)