Registration is Now Open for the 2017 Parent Attorney and Juvenile Defender Conferences

We are excited to announce that registration for the 2017 Parent Attorney and Juvenile Defender Conferences is now open and available at (Parent Attorney Conference) and (Juvenile Defender Conference). Both conferences, cosponsored by the School of Government and the Office of Indigent Defense Services, offer approximately six hours of CLE credit and feature speakers from across the state. The agendas are posted on the conference webpages, shown above.


The Parent Attorney Conference provides training for attorneys, who represent parents in abuse,

neglect, dependency, and termination of parental rights proceedings. This year’s conference will focus on looking ahead to address areas in which the parent attorney can enhance the practice.  In addition to a case law update, the conference will include sessions on the admissibility of digital evidence, changing visitation to family time, parent’s rights after removal, who speaks for a child’s best interest and implicit bias.


The Juvenile Defender Conference provides training for attorneys who represent children in delinquency proceedings. This year’s conference will focus on the practical application of detention hearings, motions to suppress and capacity to proceed. It will also include a case law update and a session on using scientific literature to advance In re Gault.


Participants: The Parent Attorney and Juvenile Defender Conferences are open to public defenders, appellate defenders, and other parent and juvenile defenders who handle a significant number of court-appointed cases.

Location, Dates, and Times: These conferences will be held Thursday, August 10 and Friday, August 11, respectively, at the School of Government on the UNC-Chapel Hill campus. Sign-in is 8:00 to 8:30 a.m. each day.

Registration: To register, as well as to find directions, hotel information, and other program information (including our cancellation and refund policy), visit:

If you would like to attend both conferences, you must register for each separately. The registration deadline for both conferences is 5:00 p.m. on Thursday, July 27.  There is no onsite registration.

Fee: Thanks to support from IDS, there is no fee for IDS state employees. The registration fee for private assigned counsel is $160, which includes all materials, parking, breaks, and lunch.

Hotel Information:

A block of rooms has been set aside on Wednesday, August 9 and Thursday, August 10, 2017, at the Holiday Inn Express of Chapel Hill/Durham at a reduced nightly rate of $80 plus tax, which includes a hot breakfast and high speed wireless internet access. The Holiday Inn Express is located at 6119 Farrington Road in Chapel Hill. When reserving online, go to and use the group code PJC (all caps). To make a reservation by phone, call the hotel directly at 919.489.7555 and provide the name and dates of the program. These rooms are being held on a first-come, first-served basis. You are responsible for making your own hotel reservation. The reservation deadline for the block rate is July 18, 2017.

 Credit: Each program will offer approximately six hours of continuing legal education (CLE) credit.  The Parent Attorney Conference qualifies for NC State Bar family law specialization credit and the Juvenile Defender Conference qualifies for NC State Bar criminal law specialization credit.

Additional Information: We look forward to seeing you in August.  If you have any questions or would like additional information, please contact me, Tanya Jisa—Program Manager—at / 919.843.8981.  If you have questions about the course content please contact Austine Long – Program Attorney – at / 919.962.9594.

#RaisetheAge Provision in the Budget



By now you may have heard that the House and Senate have agreed in principle on a budget proposal, to be voted on by both chambers likely this week and presented to the Governor.  The bill includes a compromise between the chambers on raising the age of juvenile jurisdiction.  Though not finalized, the provision would have crimes (except motor vehicle offenses) for anyone under 18 begin jurisdiction in delinquency court, with a new procedure that would expedite transfer (after a finding of probable cause or by indictment) for 16- and 17-year-olds charged with A-G offenses.  16- and 17-year-old juveniles charged with H and I felonies would be subject to the current process of discretionary transfer, and 16- and 17-year-olds charged with misdemeanors would be processed in delinquency court.  The section specifically referring to juvenile jurisdiction can be read here, and the full language of the bill can be found here.

Our office is analyzing the details of the proposal.  We will provide our analysis for your consideration once the budget becomes law.

Thanks to everyone for their support of this issue over the years!

James E. Williams Jr. Discusses Race and the Justice System in N.C. in N&O Op-Ed

On June 9th, The News & Observer published an op-ed by James E. Williams Jr., who served as a public defender for Chatham and Orange counties since 1990 and recently retired.

In his article, “Amid district challenges N.C. Supreme Court faces another test on race”,  Williams begins by addressing how the N.C. state legislature attempted to diminish the impact of African-American votes in 2015, and how the N.C. Supreme Court did nothing to correct this wrong, until the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the actions of the legislature unconstitutional.  Williams says that presently the N.C. court will be tested in their handling of the issue of racial bias in jury selection, now that new evidence suggests that four death row inmates in the state may have been sentenced in trials where prosecutors acted unethically and illegally.  This evidence shows that district attorneys intentionally removed qualified black jurors and utilized strategies to avoid having black judges hear the cases of these men.  Williams also points out the state’s failure to refute claims of broad systematic discrimination against Black jurors since the introduction of the Racial Justice Act.

In his closing, Williams, who is also the founder of the N.C. Public Defenders’ Committee on Racial Equity and serves on the board of the N.C. Commission on Racial and Ethnic Disparities in the Criminal Justice System, writes, “The question before the N.C. Supreme Court now is a fundamental one: Will we finally live up to our credo, ‘all men are created equal,’ and make sure that African-Americans have the right to fully participate in our democracy? Or will we turn a blind eye to another case of obvious discrimination, and force the U.S. Supreme Court to step in once again?”

You can read the full article here.

Deadline Extended for NC Racial Equity Network Applications

Applications for the second class of the NC Racial Equity Network (NC REN) are now due June 22, 2017. NC REN is group of North Carolina indigent defense attorneys dedicated to addressing issues of racial equity through a combination of individual case work, support and mentoring of fellow indigent defenders, and collaborative efforts with community members, court actors, and criminal justice officials. Those who are selected to take part in the Network will attend a series of trainings, at no charge and with travel reimbursement and CLE credits provided, based on the manual, Raising Issues of Race in North Carolina Criminal Cases, and will receive a free copy of the manual as well as consultations on their cases that involve issues of race.

North Carolina attorneys who handle criminal cases on behalf of indigent clients are eligible to apply. Members of NC REN will be selected through a competitive application process described in the Racial Equity Network Application. On the fence about applying? Consider this testimonial from one of the NC REN attorneys in our inaugural cohort:

“I was fortunate to be able to attend the NC REN trainings over the last two years and found them extremely beneficial and rewarding. Assistant Public Defender Yolanda Fair in the Buncombe office also attended the trainings. [NC REN] provided invaluable information about jury selection issues, motions to suppress, money bail, cross racial identification, open police data, sentencing issues, plus much more. The program has helped me broaden my toolbox in regards to raising important issues of race in the courtroom and helped me to become more comfortable raising issues of race. Participating in NC REN has helped me be a better advocate for my clients. It also empowered Yolanda and I to help gather the support of stakeholders in Buncombe County to come together for a great implicit bias training that was recently held here in Buncombe County with the help of the UNC School of Government and the Z Smith Reynolds Foundation. I highly recommend the training[.]”

-LeAnn Melton, Buncombe County Chief Public Defender

Please direct any questions regarding the NC REN program or application process to Emily Coward, NC REN Project Attorney, at

“In the Matter of T.K.: Does a Student’s Use of Profanity in the Hallway Constitute Disorderly Conduct at School” by Professor LaToya Powell

Yesterday, Professor LaToya Powell  posted a new entry on the UNC School of Government’s “On the Civil Side” blog further detailing In the Matter of T.K. and what elements are needed to determine disorderly conduct.  Professor Powell evaluates how disorderly conduct is defined by the law and how previous case law relates to the situation described in T.K.  Please take a moment to read this informative piece.

Two weeks ago we also updated our “Case Summaries” section with the latest opinion from the Court of Appeals, summarizing In re T.K.  Please find this information on our site here.

disoderly dunham

2017 Parent Attorney & Juvenile Defender Conference Announcement


Save the date!  The 2017 Parent Attorney & Juvenile Defender Conference will be held in Chapel Hill starting  Thursday, Aug. 10, to Friday, Aug. 11. Registration for this conference will begin in late June.

The Parent Attorney Conference provides training for attorneys who represent parents in abuse, neglect, dependency, and termination of parental rights proceedings.  The Juvenile Defender Conference provides training for attorneys who represent children in delinquency proceedings.  Each conference typically offers 6 hours of CLE, including one hour of ethics, and features instructors from around the state.

Please mark your calendars and plan to join us!  We will post more details for this training as they arise.