Updated Case Law Compendium

Over the last few months, the Office of the Juvenile Defender has updated and revised our case list in the hopes of making it more user-friendly. The revised compendium features three primary differences from the previous version:

First, there is now a table of contents. The cases remain grouped by topic, but this will save counsel time in finding relevant issues. Those using an electronic copy, rather than printing it, can click on the desired topic to go straight to the correct page in the PDF.

Second, at the beginning of each topic is a short, broad description of the issues it includes. This should provide counsel with a better sense of whether they will find relevant cases in a given section.

Third and foremost, each summary now includes a statement of law distilled from the case. The rules are not exhaustive, but are intended to condense some pivotal point or ultimate holding.

As in years past, the case compendium is intended to be a living and breathing document, so updates will occur monthly as decisions are released.

You can access the compendium on our website by clicking Case Law on the Information for Defenders Page.

We would like to extend our most sincere gratitude to Howard Lintz, Pro Bono Legal Associate, for his work in reformatting and organizing both the individual cases, and the document itself. His insight and attention to the most minute of details was invaluable.

Introducing Kim Howes, New Assistant Juvenile Defender

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Kim Howes just recently joined the Office of the Juvenile Defender as Assistant Juvenile Defender. Prior to joining The Office of the Juvenile Defender, Kim Howes had been in private practice since 2011. Her practice focused on the representation of children involved in juvenile delinquency matters and adult criminal defense. She also worked part time with The Child’s Advocate, a nonprofit organization that represents children involved in high conflict custody cases, as well as children who have been victims or witnesses in criminal matters. Kim most recently co-wrote and co-edited the North Carolina Bar Association’s North Carolina General Practice Deskbook, Vol. 3, Criminal Law, Juvenile Proceedings – Delinquency section. It is scheduled to be published in early 2015. Kim has recently presented at The Child’s Advocate CLE training, “How to Represent a Child in a High Conflict Custody Case.”

Currently, she is a volunteer attorney with Teen Court in Wake County and participates in the WCBA Lawyers in Schools program. Before starting her practice, Kim practiced in the area of family law. Kim graduated from UNC School of Law in 2010. While in law school, Kim was an intern with The Child’s Advocate and The Office of the Juvenile Defender where she worked extensively on the Youth development Center Commitment Project.  She also participated in the UNC Juvenile Justice Clinic under the third year practice rule. Prior to attending law school, her career focused on child advocacy from a holistic and public policy perspective working at Prevent Child Abuse NC and The NC Child Advocacy Institute (currently NC Child) with emphasis on education, juvenile justice, and child abuse and neglect.

Kim is available to provide technical assistance to Juvenile Defenders through individualized case consultations, legal research and providing draft motions for your office. Periodically you may see her in juvenile court in your district as she continues to get to know defenders across the state. You will also be receiving emails from her about statewide defender calls as well as networking opportunities with other juvenile defenders across the state such as the informal lunches that have been hosted for juvenile defenders at the Spring Conference.

New Juvenile Delinquency Contractors in High Point and Johnston County

We are excited to announce two new juvenile defender contractors!

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In High Point, Starr Ward is now representing juveniles in delinquency court, where she joins current contractor Thomas Smothers. Starr is a 2001 graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill and, in 2004, received her Juris Doctor from Campbell University School of Law.  She immediately began work as an Assistant Public Defender in Durham and in 2008 joined the Public Defender’s Office in High Point.  After the birth of her second son she entered private practice in 2010.  She can be reached at 336-686-7913, starr@starrwardlaw.com, or at www.starrwardlaw.com.


In Johnston County, Lama Sinno is the new juvenile delinquency contractor, joining current contractor Aleta Ballard.  Lama grew up in Durham, North Carolina and obtained her undergraduate degree from UNC Chapel Hill in 1995.  She obtained her law degree from Campbell University in 2001.  Lama has been in private practice in Johnston County since October 2003.  She practices criminal law, represents parents and juveniles in juvenile proceedings and represents injured workers in workers compensation claims.  She lives in Clayton, North Carolina with her husband and daughter, who are also avid Tarheel fans.  She can be reached at lama.a.sinno@gmail.com, or via Facebook and LinkedIn.

Contact information for all of the juvenile delinquency contractors can be found here: https://ncjuveniledefender.wordpress.com/information-for-defenders/materials-for-defenders/.  Congratulations to Starr and Lama!

NCBA Juvenile Justice and Children’s Rights Section CLEs: Immigration Issues in Juvenile Court and The Impact of Race in Juvenile Proceedings

On Friday, May 8 2015 the North Carolina Bar Association Juvenile Justice and Children’s Rights Section will present two CLEs in one day: Immigration Issues in Juvenile Court and The Impact of Race in Juvenile Proceedings.  The CLEs will be presented in sequence and will feature a host of experts from across the state. For more information, please see the following: NCBA CLE postcard.

Guidelines for Representing Children Facing Life Sentences from the Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth

The Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth released the first-ever Guidelines for Representing Children Facing Life Sentences:

“We are excited today to release the first-ever guidelines for representing children who face our country’s harshest penalty. Trial Defense Guidelines: Representing a Child Client Facing a Possible Life Sentence was drafted in close collaboration with attorneys and advocates from across the nation.

Children are constitutionally and developmentally different from adults, making the representation of children in adult court facing a life sentence a highly specialized area of legal practice.  However, many court structures and personnel — including prosecutors and judges — fail to account for the characteristics of childhood. The objective of the Guidelines is to set forth a national standard of practice to ensure zealous, constitutionally effective representation consistent with the standards established by the Supreme Court in Miller v. Alabama. The Guidelines draw from the ABA Guidelines for the Appointment and Performance of Defense Counsel in Death Penalty Cases in the capital context and the National Juvenile Defender Center National Juvenile Defense standards in the juvenile court context.”

The Guidelines may be found here: http://njdc.info/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/Trial-Defense-Guidelines-Representing-a-Child-Client-Facing-a-Possible-Life-Sentence.pdf

Dr. Antoinette Kavanaugh: What to Look for in a Forensic Expert

Dr. Antoinette Kavanaugh, Forensic Clinical Psychologist and national expert on developmental issues and juvenile court, has recently written an article for the November/December edition of the NACDL publication The Champion. In her own words, the article is “…about retaining a forensic mental health expert in Miller resentencing cases and is designed to assist defense counsel with understanding the benefits of a forensically trained mental health expert, to help them decide which type of forensic mental health expert to retain and how and where to find such an expert. It also offers guidance on how they can effectively prepare the clinician, defendant, and defendant’s family for the evaluation itself and is meant to inform both defense counsel and clinicians of the specific factors to consider in the evaluation as they pertain to Miller.”    Though focusing on finding an expert for Miller cases, these practical suggestions can also be applied to retaining an expert for transfer cases, other serious offenses, or clients with complicated psychological issues.

To read the article click here:   Retaining a Forensic Mental Health Expert In Miller Cases

Dr. Kavanaugh can be reached at antoinette@drkavanaugh.com or 312.726.2419.