Chief Justice Beasley and Governor Cooper Announce School Justice Partnership Initiative
This past Monday Chief Justice Cheri Beasley, Governor Roy Cooper, and public officials from across the state representing schools, law enforcement, courts and juvenile justice joined together in Guilford County to announce the official release of the School Justice Partnership (SJP) Toolkit. The SJP Toolkit is a collaborative resource for stakeholder meetings to address offenses emanating from school behavior that are processed in the juvenile and criminal court system . For more information click here.
It’s August, and things can get a little slow at OJD, but we do have a few highlights for you. Hope to see folks at the Annual Conference today!
Tip of the Week
Transcript of Admission Tips
Filling out a transcript of admission on any admission of a new offense is important for several reasons. It memorializes the record of admission in writing if subject to an appeal. Reviewing the transcript with your client helps your client better understand the admission and the rights s/he is asserting or waiving. Make sure you complete the transcript with your client present and do so in a confidential space. Consider making a copy of the transcript to keep at the attorney table to help your client answer questions. Stand with your client when the court asks your client the listed questions and be prepared to confer with your client if any issues arise.
If you missed it, check out out Guest Blogger: David Andrews, Office of the Appellate Defender
Also, if you haven’t, check out IDS’ Facebook page, full of great information, in particular the personal testimonies of public defenders, and follow IDS on Twitter.
I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t watch a lot of football. The games are long and there’s that persistent risk of concussion. But a phrase you sometimes hear with football – “any given Sunday” – has a ring to it. During any particular game, the underdog could surprise everyone and upset a higher-ranked team.
So it is with the law. The Supreme Court of North Carolina issues opinions once or month or once every two months, but always on a Friday. And, so, on any given Friday, a defendant or a juvenile could surprise everyone and come out on top. The Court of Appeals issues opinions on the first and third Tuesdays of each month. So, you know, “any given Tuesday.”
But how do you get to a point where an upset is possible? One way is through motions. Over the past several months, my colleagues and I at the Office of the Appellate Defender (“OAD”) have been working with attorneys at the Office of the Juvenile Defender (“OJD”), the Center for Death Penalty Litigation, and Prisoner Legal Services on sample motions for various issues. You can find these motions on the OAD and OJD websites. The motions are designed in part to preserve legal arguments and, thus, to achieve that unexpected win on appeal. However, they also serve to educate judges and lawyers about specific legal issues. And who knows? One or more of the motions might win in trial court.
One set of motions involves the new offenses of making a false report of mass violence on educational property and communicating a threat of mass violence on educational property. The motions involve various free speech arguments. From the outside, free speech arguments can seem complicated. But have no fear – these motions provide case law and a roadmap for asserting free speech claims.
Another motion lays out an argument that the State should be required to give notice if it intends to seek a higher disposition on the ground that the juvenile committed the offense while on probation and then prove that the juvenile was on probation beyond a reasonable doubt. Juveniles are entitled to the same notice as adults. In addition, the State is required to prove every fact necessary to constitute the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. Under Apprendi v. New Jersey, 530 U.S. 466 (2000), sentencing enhancements in criminal cases are treated as elements that the State is required to prove beyond a reasonable doubt. The same logic should arguably apply to delinquency cases.
Finally, there is a batch a motions that all involve extending Miller v. Alabama, 567 U.S. 460 (2012) to some of its logical conclusions. For example, there is a motion arguing that the mandatory transfer of first-degree murder cases to adult court is unconstitutional. If judges are required to take youth into account before imposing an LWOP sentence, they should be required to do so before transferring the case to adult court. Another motion argues that the threshold for imposing the death penalty and mandatory LWOP sentences should be extended from 18- to 25-years old. Miller was premised on research into adolescent brain development. And, so, if that same research indicates that the adolescent brain does not finish maturing until the mid-20s, then the law should reflect that research, as well. Finally, there’s a motion arguing that felony murder should not apply to juveniles. In North Carolina, felony murder is based on deterrence. However, Miller explains that deterrence doesn’t work with kids because kids tend act impulsively without considering the consequences of their conduct.
All of these arguments are just that – arguments. Some may win, some will lose. But we won’t know unless we try. On any given day in court, anything is possible.
Yes and no. While there is no exact corollary to a motion for appropriate relief (MAR) in juvenile court, N.C.G.S. §7B-2600 provides for a hearing on a motion for the court to review an order of the court is in the best interests of the juvenile. As a result, the court may modify or vacate the order in light of changes in circumstances or the needs of the juvenile. Subsection (b) specifically refers to delinquency and states that “the court may reduce the nature or the duration of the disposition on the basis that it was imposed in an illegal manner or is unduly severe with reference to the seriousness of the offense, the culpability of the juvenile, or the dispositions given to juveniles convicted of similar offenses.”
Senate 413 is now law! Governor Cooper signed the bill yesterday. This should make the RTA substantive law final and ready to go for December 1. Stay tuned for updates on training opportunities, resources, and other materials.
The Juvenile Jurisdiction Advisory Committee (JJAC) met this week. As the body empowered by the General Assembly to monitor and review the implementation of Raise the Age, the JJAC reviewed the status of RTA legislation and budget negotiations, received an update of School Justice Partnerships and filing processes, reviewed Juvenile Crime Prevention Council allocations, and discussed whether to explore recommendation of raising the minimum age of juvenile jurisdiction. More information about the meeting may be found here.
Speaking of School Justice Partnerships, be sure to check out Chief Justice Cherie Beasley discussing this innovation here.
From Our National Partners:
Six Policy Priorities for Juvenile Defense | National Juvenile Defense Standards: Why Juvenile Defense Doesn’t End in the Courtroom
Juvenile defenders can and should play a vital role in policy and justice system reform — and advocates can partner with them to accomplish significant changes that affect youth in the court room and beyond.
This policy update draws on new best practice standards created by the National Juvenile Defender Center (NJDC) with support from Models for Change for juvenile defense attorneys. In addition to the standards themselves, the NJDC also calls on defenders to take action toward broad systemic reform, and encourages advocates to collaborate in these areas:
Ensure early access to counsel.
Establish a presumption of indigence for all youth.
Prevent invalid waiver of counsel.
Challenge disparate treatment and discrimination.
Ensure resources and manageable caseloads for juvenile defenders.
Identify and eliminate harmful conditions of confinement