Governor Cooper Acknowledges Raise the Age at the Capitol

Today in the Old House Chamber of the Capitol, Governor Roy Cooper acknowledged the passing of the Raise the Age Bill and signed the Expungement Process Modifications Bill.  In a short but sweet ceremony, the governor thanked several representatives and others who worked to champion both bills and briefly spoke about extending second chances to adults and the importance of improving the juvenile justice system as well.

“North Carolina may be the last [state to raise the age], but we will not be the least,” Gov. Cooper said to the applause of the audience prior to signing the bills.

Please find a full video of the occasion on the N.C. Department of Public Safety’s Facebook page here.


Juvenile Defender Conference 2017: A Testimonial from Martin Moore

As summer reaches full swing, I hope each of the juvenile advocates reading this blog are enjoying the same (temporary) reprieve that we are here in Asheville. During this hiatus, I would encourage any interested juvenile justice advocates to consider joining us at the Juvenile Defender Conference hosted at the UNC School of Government. For those who have not yet attended, the Juvenile Defender’s Conference is an annual event hosted by the School of Government.

This year, Program Attorney Austine Long has put together a compelling set of topics including seminars on motions to suppress, capacity to proceed, implicit bias, detention hearings, and a case law update. Altogether, six hours of CLE credit will be offered for attending the Conference, including one hour of ethics/professional responsibility credit. This year’s guest faculty/presenters will include Mary Stansell, Kim Howes, Terri Johnson, James Drennan, LaToya Powell, and Martin Moore.

In addition to the substantive education that caters to both new and experienced juvenile attorneys, it is one of the best opportunities to network with great minds across the state. In addition to long-lasting professional contacts and friendships, it is one of the rare opportunities to mix and mingle with juvenile court practitioners and share the in-and outs of practice in our respective jurisdictions.

The registration deadline for the Conference is 5:00 p.m. this Thursday, July 27. I hope to see you there!

Martin Moore

Martin Moore is an Assistant Public Defender in Asheville, North Carolina.  He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Philosophy from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; Moore went on to obtain his Juris Doctor from the University of North Carolina School of Law.  In his free time, he enjoys music and volunteers with a local non-profit helping underprivileged youth gain access to education.  You can connect with him via LinkedIn at contact him by email or his website at or

Reflections & Foresight on N.C.’s Journey for Juvenile Justice at Raise the Age Victory Celebration

On Thursday afternoon, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., advocates for Raise the Age from across the state of North Carolina (and probably beyond) assembled at Trophy Brewing in Downtown Raleigh for a victory party hosted by the Raise the Age Coalition to celebrate the passing of the new law extending the age of juvenile jurisdiction.  RTA Vic Party crowd

Representatives from many organizations, from Disability Rights N.C. to the state Legislature, were in attendance to celebrate the monumental occasion.  After struggling for more than a decade to make this necessary change to the juvenile justice system, the festivities were well-deserved.  Everyone present seemed to be in good spirits after finally seeing their diligence pay off, but the people who have supported this effort for so long understand that there is still more to be done.

“I believe this is a step in the right direction,” said Tyler Ford, research assistant to Senator Paul Lowe.  “The state can now focus on guiding juveniles in the right direction, but we definitely have a long way to go.”

In the middle of the event, Susanna Birdsong, state policy counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union, called on multiple speakers to share their thoughts and words of encouragement with the crowd.

Brandy Bynum Dawson, associate director for Rural Forward NC, was the first of the speakers, addressing all of the long years of advocacy to make this moment possible in her speech.  “This win is for North Carolina’s youth!” Dawson said.  “Congratulations on never giving up!”

Dawson was followed by Sens. Marcia Morey and Duane Hall, who each spoke briefly about their work in the judicial system before coming to the Legislature.

“This is why I left the bench to go to the Legislature,” Sen. Morey said.  “This is about the kids.  This is about the thousands of kids I would have sentenced as a judge.”

The final speaker for the event, Ricky Watson, co-director of the Youth Justice Project, stated that until the law is fully implemented, the goal would be to increase diversion programs and try to keep kids out of the justice system in the first place, continuing to advance justice for youth in North Carolina.

RTA Vic party

Following the presentations from the selected speakers a few others present were kind enough share their thoughts on the new legislation and what it means going forward.

“This is a smart juvenile justice reform that is going to help a lot of kids in North Carolina,” said LaToya Powell, assistant professor of public law and government at the UNC School of Government.

Deana Fleming, assistant legal counsel for the North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts, stated, “I’m just happy to be able to put North Carolina youth on equal footing with the rest of the states.”

“This is only the beginning, there is still work to be done,” said David Andrews, assistant public defender for the N.C. Office of the Appellate Defender.

And while the work to improve the juvenile justice system continues, so do the celebrations for what has been achieved so far.  On Wednesday, August 2, the North Carolina Chamber will be holding its own reception in the Reynolds American Boardroom at 701 Corporate Center Drive, Suite 400 in Raleigh.  The reception will last from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m.  Guests will need to RSVP with Kristy Kappel at


“Extended YDC Commitments and the 30-Day Notice Requirement” by Professor LaToya Powell

From the “On the Civil Side” blog, please take a moment to review Professor LaToya Powell’s latest post regarding how to determine a juvenile’s maximum commitment period to a youth development center and the requirements for extending the commitment beyond the designated period.  In her post, Powell explains the limitations for maximum sentencing, based on age and the level of the offense, and what conditions must be fulfilled to qualify a 30-day notice to extend a commitment to a YDC.  Please find the full article here.

“Mothers: What Do They Know? And More Importantly, What Don’t They Know?” by Dr. Antoinette Kavanaugh


Forensic and clinical psychologist Dr. Antoinette Kavanaugh has recently published an interesting new review on her website.

In the post, Dr. Kavanaugh analyzes and breaks down the psychological study from Caitlin Cavanagh and Elizabeth Cauffman titled “What They Don’t Know Can Hurt Them:  Mother’s Legal Knowledge and Youth Re-Offending“.  In their paper, the researchers examined the correlation between the involvement of mothers in their sons’ legal processes, the knowledge of the mothers in such matters, and the rates of re-offending.

Dr. Kavanaugh offers a satisfying and concise review of the data presented in this report.  In one section Kavanaugh writes, “More than half of the mothers also did not understand the expungement process.  The lack of understanding related to court personnel and the court process is something that many parties in the court system ranging from attorneys, to judges, to probation officers should address more efficaciously.”

She later writes, “Attorneys who represent children often describe the lengths they go to in order to get parents to understand how the child is their client, the types of legal decisions the client has to make, and the limits of the parents’ role.  I think it is reasonable to assume the lawyers involved in the cases in this study did this…  Additionally, the level of the mothers’ legal knowledge was also directly related to their sons’ likelihood of reoffending.  The more legal knowledge a mother had, the less likely her son was to reoffend…  Since [the mothers’] lack of understanding impacts public safety because it is associated with youths’ increased recidivism, the judiciary, probation officers, prosecutors and public defenders should want to increase mothers’ legal knowledge and are advised to gauge their knowledge at different points in the legal process.”

You can view Dr. Kavanaugh’s full review on her website here.  Also, please subscribe on the site to receive future posts from Dr. Kavanaugh directly to your inbox!

Job Opportunity: Contracts Administrator for Indigent Defense Services


The Office of Indigent Defense Services seeks a qualified Contracts Administrator to develop, negotiate, enter into, and administer contracts with individual attorneys, law firms, and non-profits for indigent representation throughout North Carolina, primarily through a Request for Proposals (RFP) process.  (Please find the basic job description and requirements below, or for more info and to apply, please visit here.)

Responsibilities include but are not limited to the following:

  • Assist in evaluation of proposals received in response to RFPs, including coordinating the selection committee(s).
  • For small contracts not subject to the RFP requirements, work with Regional Defenders, local bars, and judicial officials to identify qualified attorneys and to develop and enter into contracts on behalf of IDS.
  • Establish quality and cost measures to evaluate contracts.
  • Monitor case reporting systems; work with IDS’ Information Technology Director to maintain and enhance an on-line contractor case reporting system; and collect and analyze data from contractors.
  • Develop appropriate policies governing contractors and staff relevant committees of the Indigent Defense Services (IDS) Commission that deal with issues relevant to contracts.
  • Monitor payments to contractors and assist with resolving problems or disputes with contractors; and work with Regional Defenders to monitor attorney performance through data analysis and site visits.
  • Assist with developing lists of qualified attorneys for appointment on a case-by-case basis and supervising, evaluating, and monitoring indigent representation around the state.
  • Draft and enter contracts related to general IDS office operations as needed; and perform other duties as assigned.

The successful candidate will be flexible and able to work well with a multi-disciplinary team.

This position reports to the IDS Assistant Director and requires occasional travel across the state.
Knowledge, Skills and Abilities / Competencies

Knowledge of:  the NC judicial system; criminal sentencing; methods of providing legal services to indigent defendants and respondents; and contracts and contract administration.

Skills in:  contract management; developing service delivery systems and identifying the infrastructure to support those systems; both quantitative and qualitative data analysis; database development and long-term management; on-line survey programs such as SurveyMonkey; and Microsoft Excel.

Ability to:  effectively communicate in oral and written form; establish and maintain excellent interpersonal relationships; learn new programs and systems; work well with a multi-disciplinary team; and effectively work with groups of diverse interests.

Minimum Education and Experience Requirements

Management prefers candidates with a Juris Doctorate from an ABA accredited law school with a license to practice law in North Carolina or Master’s Degree in Public Administration or related field and three (3) years of relevant experience. Management will consider applicants with a four-year college/university degree and five (5) years of relevant experience.  Relevant experience includes:

  • managing contracts for a public defense, criminal justice, or public sector organization; or oversight of management systems for a public defense, criminal justice, or public sector organization.
  • experience in the defense of criminal or other cases under IDS’ oversight is a plus.

Describe in your cover letter a new software system or application you learned in the past year and how you went about learning the new software system or application.  Your cover letter should also describe any experience you have with the design, use, or evaluation of work-related databases or other software tools.

Attach cover letter,  résumé, and the names and contact information for two (2) professional references.