Free CLE: “Whiskey in the Courtroom: Evolving Trends in Forensic Science”

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Indigent Defense Services and the Duke Law Center for Criminal Justice and Professional Responsibility are pleased to announce a free CLE,  This program will take place on March 20, 2015 at Duke Law School. Forensic science experts and attorneys who have litigated cases involving complex scientific evidence will present on a range of topics designed to help attorneys understand the latest trends in forensic evidence, limitations to this evidence, and legal challenges that can be made.

The program begins with a “science fair” of forensic experts from 10-11:15 a.m., offering a unique opportunity for attorneys to speak one-on-one with experts to gain a general understanding of the state of the disciplines and/or have specific questions answered. The panel presentations begin at 11:15 am. 5.25 hours of CLE credit is anticipated for the presentation portion of the program.

A detailed agenda and registration information are available here:
https://law.duke.edu/ccjpr/symposium2015

This program is free, but registration is required as lunch will be provided.

We look forward to seeing you in March!

Sarah Rackley Olson
Forensic Resource Counsel
NC Indigent Defense Services
123 W. Main St. Ste 400
Durham, NC 27701
(919)354-7217

Training Opportunity: DSS 101 for the Juvenile Defender: Handling Dual Jurisdiction Youth on Friday, February 20th from 9:00 to 12:20

Wake County Public Defender’s Office is sponsoring a free CLE for anyone who handles criminal matters for youth who are in DSS custody or involved with CPS investigations.  This can include 16 and 17 year olds in adult court.

The CLE will be held somewhere in downtown Raleigh (still working on place). CLE credit approval is pending. You would have to pay the NC State Bar for the 3 credit hours (current rate is $3.00 per hour) but you do NOT have to pay anything to attend.  I will send more information and sign up forms soon but wanted to get the word out so you can clear your calendar to join us.

Thanks,

Mary Stansell
Juvenile Chief
Wake County Public Defender Office
919-792-5488

Preventing and Handling Illegal Confinement – by Kellie Mannette, Guest Blogger

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There are a few common ways our kids end up being held illegally. As their advocates, we need to focus on ways to try to prevent this from happening, and what to do when it comes to our attention that it has happened.

In this blog post, I will discuss what to do when children are illegally confined as an improper use of their intermittent confinement days. N.C. Gen. Stat. § 7B-2506 (12) authorizes a judge to impose up to 5 intermittent confinement days for a child placed on a level 1 disposition and N.C. Gen. Stat. § 7B-2506 (20) authorizes a judge to impose up to 14 intermittent confinement days for child placed on a level 2 disposition. Both of these statutes specify that “the timing of which is determined by the court in its discretion.”

Often, these days are included as a part of the initial order, but stayed while the child is under various terms of probation. We, the child’s lawyer, then close the file and file our fee applications. We tell the child to contact us if they have questions, but unless an MFR is filed, we typically do not hear anything more about the case.

In other cases, judges will explicitly authorize the court counselor to use some or all of the stayed days upon “noncompliance” or a particular type of violation.

In either case, in some jurisdictions, court counselors will approach a judge with a secured custody order to utilize some or all of these stayed days for noncompliance issues. The child is then picked up, and serves their days. When they are released, they continue on probation.

Because the child has not been brought in on an MFR, there is no due process and no appointment/reappointment of a lawyer. So this happens in a way that we typically are completely unaware that it is happening.

In re Hartsock provides that the judge cannot delegate her authority to court counselor to determine if certain dispositional alternatives are appropriate. 158 N.C.App. 287, S.E.2d 395 (2003). By authorizing the court counselor to impose stayed intermittent confinement days, there is an impermissible delegation of authority. Additionally, when the imposition of these days is for an alleged incident(s) of noncompliance with the probation order, there are due process requirements of notice (an MFR) and a hearing, as well as the (re)appointment of a lawyer.

If we find out this has happened, it is usually if we see the secured custody order in the file after being appointed on new charges or an MFR at a later date. At that point, the child is no longer in custody, and there is no proper recourse for a juvenile defender to take.

So, what do we do? I have a couple suggestions. The first is proactive. When you are at disposition for a child and the judge indicates she will include stayed intermittent confinement days as part of the order, ask for there to be language that specifies that the days cannot be imposed unless the child is brought back in front of the judge on an MFR. Cite Hartsock when making this request. I have had success with some judges in getting this language into the original order. This makes it clear to the court counselor and any judge the court counselor may approach with a secured custody order that the days cannot be imposed without the proper due process proceedings.

If the judge refuses to include this language, consider appealing. Appeals can (and often should) be made on dispositional issues even if the child took a plea. Once disposition has been entered, you have 10 days to appeal. If the 10 days expires, and the child is later confined illegally in a manner in which you are not aware until the confinement has ended, there is no legal recourse in the delinquency venue.

What if you learn about the illegal confinement while the child is still locked up? You can file a writ of habeas corpus. Since this is a complicated procedure, I will not go into details on how to do this in this blog post. Contact OJD and/or the Appellate Defender’s Office for assistance if this happens.

On a systemic level, I would encourage all juvenile defenders to review the court files of their clients to see if this is occurring in your counties. If it is a regular occurrence, consider speaking with the court counselors, DAs and/or judges about the practice.

If this is something that is happening regularly in your counties and none of these strategies seem to be working, raise the alarm. Contact OJD, so they can be aware of how widespread the problem is. And do not stop objecting to this practice!

Kellie Mannette (http://mannettelawfirm.com/) is a private attorney practicing in Orange, Durham and Chatham counties who specializes in criminal and juvenile defense.  An alumnus of the UNC Youth Justice Clinic program, Kellie has returned twice to teach at the Clinic.  

New Resource: Guide to Juvenile Court for Youth & Parents in North Carolina

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Youth Justice North Carolina has just released a great, unique resource: Guide to Juvenile Court for Youth & Parents in North Carolina.  The Guide is a step-by-step introduction to the Juvenile Justice system, designed for all persons to assist in the navigation of a complex arena.  Though written for parents and youth, defenders may also find it useful in their ongoing education, and especially when assisting their clients and caregivers through the process: http://youthjusticenc.org/download/juvenile-justice/juvenile-and-criminal-representation/Guide%20(1).pdf

Year In Review

As we close out 2014, we would like to briefly highlight a few activities that the Office of the Juvenile Defender (OJD) undertook over the year.

Contracts and Training:

Contracts: We were able to evaluate 11 of the 14 juvenile contracts over the course of 2014. The evaluation process includes court observations as well as brief interviews with the pertinent court actors. We are continuing to participate with IDS on ways to improve interactions with contractors and explore ways to identify future contractors.

Training: We collaborated with the UNC School of Government (SOG) to plan the first Juvenile Advanced Training in March. The training was similar to the Trial School format and feedback indicates that it was well-received.  We also worked closely with the SOG to plan the Annual Juvenile Defender Conference that was held in August. Our office presented at several other local and national trainings over the course of the year, including an offering hosted by the Wilmington Public Defender Office that focused on the Sex Offender Specific Evaluation, the National Juvenile Defender Center Summit in October and the 9th Annual Models for Change National Working Conference in December.

Legislation:

As you may recall, in the last session of the General Assembly the House passed HB725 (Raise the Age) but the Senate did not take up the legislation. In order to move the legislation forward, a new bill would need to be proposed during the next legislative session in January 2015. While we do not have any definitive information, we understand that there is some indication that one or more bills may be proposed.

Additionally, we have worked with the North Carolina Bar Association Juvenile Justice and Children’s Rights Section to develop technical changes to the Juvenile Code which will hopefully improve outcomes for our clients.

 Outreach:

This year we developed a communication protocol and launched our new website. The site is designed to be more interactive and allows us to disseminate information in real time. We strongly encourage our partners and stakeholders to contribute content, such as blog posts, relevant events or training opportunities, pertinent research, etc. We also continued the quarterly defender call that was introduced last year. The calls are intended to provide an opportunity for delinquency attorneys across the state to connect and discuss issues relevant to the practice.

This year the OJD presented at the Campbell, Charlotte, Elon, University of North Carolina and Wake Forest Schools of Law. We collaborated with Elon to develop a pro bono project in Guilford County, which evolved into an extern program where Elon Law students can specifically work with the juvenile assistant public defenders in the Guilford County Public Defender Office. In September 2014, OJD stepped down as host of the Southern Juvenile Defender Center.  We appreciate the opportunity from the National Juvenile Defender Center to connect defenders from seven southeastern states, work on policy issues together, and resurrect the regional summits.

New Initiatives:

Research indicates that very few eligible juveniles are applying to have their delinquency records expunged. As you know, delinquency records can impact juveniles in a number of ways, and expunging these records can ease access to vocational and educational resources, as well as impact potential future contact with the criminal justice system.  However, there is no right to paid counsel, and there are few, if any, pro bono resources for juveniles. To that end, next year we will work to develop an expunction project that would increase community awareness, develop a mechanism for tracking juveniles to clearly quantify the numbers of expunctions, and explore possibilities for low- or no-cost legal assistance for juveniles and their families.

Also, in an effort to encourage up and coming attorneys to commit to delinquency work, we are considering developing a leadership mentor program designed to match experienced and active defenders with new attorneys in hopes of getting them involved with delinquency related issues and the greater delinquency community.

As we look toward the new year, we continue to perform our ongoing functions including: representing juvenile defense on various boards and committees, meeting with other juvenile justice advocates discussing various juvenile issues, responding to the media as requested, consulting with trial court practitioners and appellate counsel, providing training materials to groups and individuals, co-authoring the Juvenile Defender Newsletter with the North Carolina Advocates for Justice, and monitoring the legislature and the appellate courts.