Save the Date: Raise the Age Charlotte Celebration

The Children’s Alliance and N.C. Child invite you to join them on Thursday, Sept. 28th, for the Raise the Age Charlotte Celebration!  The event will take place from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Child & Family Services Center on 601 East 5th Street, Charlotte, N.C.  Food and drinks will be served and a celebration program is planned for 6 p.m.  To RSVP for the festivities, please visit their site and sign up here.

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“‘Raise the Age’ is Now the Law in North Carolina” by Professor LaToya Powell

From the “On the Civil Side” blog, Professor LaToya Powell has posted a new article regarding Raise the Age in North Carolina.  In this article, Professor Powell breaks down the Juvenile Justice Reinvestment Act, discussing recommendations from the North Carolina Commission on the Administration of Law and Justice, adjustments to NCCALJ’s recommendations that were included in the final bill, and a short but detailed summary of each section of the law, including when each part will go into effect.  In her summary, Professor Powell also acknowledges some issues with the language of the bill.  Please take a moment to read the full post here.

 

From NJDC: Probation Supervision Fees Trap Children and Families in Juvenile Court System

 

WASHINGTON, DC — Youth in 21 states can be charged fees for the cost of probation supervision, placing a tremendous burden on young people and their families, according to an issue brief and corresponding infographic released today by the National Juvenile Defender Center.

“These fees create a cycle of debt for families. Children are charged merely for being placed on probation, which exacerbates racial disparities and prolongs the length of time a young person is forced to stay in the system,” said Mary Ann Scali, executive director of the National Juvenile Defender Center.

The Cost of Juvenile Probation is based on interviews with juvenile defenders and probation officers in at least one jurisdiction in each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Among the jurisdictions that reported charging fees, the costs vary from a flat fee of $10 to monthly fees that can add up to well above $2,000 — and that’s on top of numerous other fines and costs charged as a result of a delinquency case. If children or families do not have the means to pay the fees, the consequences can be devastating; among them, children are locked up, kept on probation indefinitely, or have civil judgments imposed on them and their families.

“When young people are charged supervision fees, families often must confront the impossible dilemma of covering the cost of their child’s freedom or affording household necessities, which only serves to perpetuate the criminalization of poverty,” said Scali. “In general, no formal process exists for a family to demonstrate they are unable to afford these fees and seek relief.”

The findings reveal an absence of uniform standards across or within states that determines how fees are assessed or whether they’re enforced, resulting in unequal access to justice. The issue brief urges state legislatures and juvenile courts to eliminate the use of supervision fees for juvenile probation. Recommendations also compel juvenile defenders to actively push for waiver of fees based on their incompatibility with the goal of youth success.

“Probation is the most common sentence young people receive in juvenile court, and yet by assessing supervision fees, courts distract from any genuine progress children make,” said Scali. “The fees also create unnecessary stress among family members, particularly when young people need the most support. It’s long past time to drop the use of supervision fees and focus on supporting children’s strengths.”

The National Juvenile Defender Center is dedicated to promoting justice for all children by ensuring excellence in juvenile defense. Through community building, training, and policy reform, we provide national leadership on juvenile defense issues with a focus on the deprivation of young people’s rights in the court system. For more information, please visit our website at www.njdc.info.

Save the Date: NCCRED Syposium

The North Carolina Commission on Racial and Ethnic Disparities (NC-CRED), the Wake Forest Journal of Law & Policy, and the Wake Forest School of Law Criminal Justice Program, present “The New Law and Order: Working Towards Equitable and Community-Centered Policing in North Carolina” on Friday, Nov. 3, 2017, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., in the Worrell Professional Center, Room 1312. The event is free and open to the public.  Approval for up to four hours of Continuing Legal Education (CLE) credit from the North Carolina Bar Association is pending approval.  The event is also scheduled to be a live webcast.

NC-CRED is a diverse group of criminal justice stakeholders—judges, police chiefs, district attorneys, public defenders, scholars and community advocates, who work collaboratively to identify, document and reduce racial disparities in North Carolina’s criminal justice system.  The symposium will bring together law enforcement, practicing attorneys, scholars and community advocates to discuss equitable reforms to address racial disparities in policing in North Carolina.

Wake U

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New L&O

Forms and Motions Update: Juvenile Intake Form

We want to notify all juvenile defenders that we have added an intake form to our “Trial Motions and Forms Index”.  In addition to having all your client’s information in one place, this document includes information regarding potential immigration relief you may use to potentially help a client who is undocumented.  You can find this index page with a complete list of useful resources on the “Materials for Defenders” page located under the “Information for Defenders” tab on our site.  Please check back frequently for other updates to this list and more.

Forms and Motions Update: Motion for Appropriate Relief

We wanted to notify all juvenile defenders that we have now added a motion for appropriate relief document to our “Trial Motions and Forms Index”.  This document is meant for cases where a juvenile was incorrectly charged in adult court (i.e. gave the police officers a wrong age) and to remove the juvenile’s info from ACIS.  You can find this index page with a complete list of useful resources on the “Materials for Defenders” page located under the “Information for Defenders” tab on our site.  Check back frequently for other updates to this list and more.

From a Non-Lawyer Perspective: 2017 Juvenile Defender Conference Review by Marcus Thompson

On Friday, Aug. 11, juvenile defenders from across N.C. united at the U.N.C. School of Government for the 2017 Juvenile Defender Conference — and I had the honor of being among the 50+ attendees!  Only approaching my first full year as a part of the Juvenile Defender family, I was pretty excited to be able to attend this annual conference and observe juvenile defenders from various districts interact and share ideas and experiences from their time in juvenile court.  In my short time with the Office of the Juvenile Defender, I have  had the opportunity to learn about case law, the “lawyer lingo”, and other things, but this training was a great experience to not only refresh my memory of materials I’ve encountered before, but to also gain further insight into the juvenile justice system.

Program Attorney Austine Long started the event, welcoming everyone and encouraging defenders to offer suggestions for future training courses before introducing Martin Moore, assistant public defender of Buncombe County.

Moore discussed detention hearings, going over the types and culture of detention, secure custody and strategies for preparing for hearings.  Moore acknowledged that some areas of the state do not always follow their own guidelines for detention hearings.  “No one is in a better position to help the juvenile than themselves,” Moore said, emphasizing to attendees the importance of listening to the client and knowing as much as possible about their history, mental health state, and relationships when preparing for hearings.  When he posed a question to the audience about juveniles being placed in adult facilities for pre-adjudication secure custody (which violates G.S. 7B-1905), some defenders stated that this is often a result of juveniles having lied about their age, which initially surprised me.  I would have assumed in some cases it may have been the error of the police.  One participant also stated that juvenile defenders should ensure that juveniles’ info is redacted if they are placed in an adult facility for any reason.  On the topic of shackling during secure custody hearings, Moore also stated that it was “generally something we should argue against” and others concurred, pointing out the most effective argument with judges was that shackling a child would require more paperwork.  Towards the end of his presentation, Moore gave attendees a couple of hypothetical scenarios and allowed them to role play to demonstrate how they argue on behalf of a client in a detention hearing.

Following Moore, Mary Stansell, assistant public defender of Wake County, and Assistant Juvenile Defender Kim Howes presented on motions to suppress.  The pair addressed In re Gault, what qualifies as custodial interrogation, children’s understanding of their rights, and violations of 4th amendment rights.  Stansell and Howes stressed that a statement can’t be used against a child in custody unless a parent is there, but children believe that the “right to remain silent” means “until a cop asks a question”, most likely due to being naturally submissive to adults and intimidated by authority figures.  The cases of Saldierna and J.D.B. were also addressed while discussing juveniles’ voluntary waiver of rights.  Identification of juveniles in court and search and seizure were also brought up before attendees were broken out into groups to work on a case study.

After lunch was provided, Terri Johnson, an attorney from Statesville, took the lead to discuss capacity, covering statutes, cases, and how to handle evaluations and issues.  Johnson emphasized looking for indicators of capacity such as age, nature and location of the offense, language barriers and a history of social, mental, or physical health issues.  She also talked about finding experts to evaluate a client’s capacity to proceed in court and common arguments made by assistant district attorneys and juvenile court counselors.  One common argument was that juveniles were manipulative and would lie simply to avoid getting into trouble.  Johnson also said that sometimes judges will commit juveniles due to lack of options or because they believe that just putting juveniles on probation will get them the mental health treatment that they need.  Having no interactions with the legal system in my teenage years beyond a couple of traffic violations, it was kind of disheartening to hear that this was the way people, especially kids with various problems, were perceived and treated in the courts.

Once Johnson finished her segment, LaToya Powell, assistant professor of public law and government for the U.N.C. School of Government, arrived to discuss updates to juvenile law in the past year.   I was very familiar with all of the cases that Powell discussed, having read her opinions and writing case summaries for our office, but the review of these cases was welcomed.  Powell succinctly summarized many of the most impactful cases, including Saldierna, T.K.D.E.P.  and the recent Raise the Age legislation.  While addressing Saldierna, Powell stated that a juvenile cannot waive the right to have a parent or attorney present during questioning due to special protections provided under General Statute 7B-2101.  After reviewing the whole series of decisions from SaldiernaPowell also noted that as of Aug. 3rd, the State had filed a motion for temporary stay on the case.  Once she summarized some of the other recent appellate court decisions, Powell went on to discuss the Juvenile Justice Reinvestment Act, pointing out the benefits to everyone involved in the juvenile justice system, but also addressing some potential issues with the new laws, such as conflicting terms in the new gang suppression section with current criminal gang suppression rules.

Finally, James Drennan, adjunct and former Albert Coates professor for the U.N.C. School of Government, took the podium to lead the ethics portion of the training.  This part of the training was more like the psychology/philosophy class I wish I had during my college years and was applicable not only to juvenile defense, but all professions.  Drennan discussed implicit biases, which he said exists “in all of us.  No one is immune to it.”

“There is an elemental, primal need to feel like you are being treated fairly,” Drennan said after showing a video of two monkeys being rewarded, one with grapes and the other with cucumbers (resulting in its frustration) for performing the same task.  He shared statistics and reports that showed fairness is what is most desired in our court system by people, but more people from various backgrounds perceive the justice system as unfair to minorities.

Drennan also engaged attendees in several exercises to test their perception, demonstrating our fast-thinking and slow-thinking processes and how our intuitive feelings and programming from a young age affects our judgment.   Drennan spoke about how his own southern upbringing taught him to accept racial disparities as a norm and certain behaviors were maligned by the society he grew up in, and despite his life experiences, these ideas instilled in him from his youth still linger, unable to be unlearned.  He also said that controlling our fast-thinking processes when interacting with new groups or individuals and observing the patterns in our decision-making processes are important to help us to avoid our own prejudices.

Every presentation was engaging and surprisingly easy to follow, even for someone like myself, without a background in law.  While I’ve only observed a few juvenile court cases, it was good to know how other defenders prepare to present their juveniles’ cases and what must be considered prior to going in front of the judge.  It also provided clarity for me about the challenges from all sides that juvenile defenders must deal with inside and outside the courtroom.  It was also great being able to put more faces to the names I’ve seen in the past few months.  After this first year, I look forward to the 2018 Juvenile Defender Conference, and I hope to hear from and see more of the front line defenders.

If you missed the conference or would just like to review the presentations, you can find a copy of the course materials with additional references here.