Week in Review: Mar 30-Apr 3


Happy Friday Readers & Welcome to a brand new month. We know it may not feel like it, but it goes without saying how we appreciate our essential workers, in both private and public sectors. You are the heroes.

TIP OF THE WEEK!

This week’s tip of the week is highlighting a juvenile delinquency case that defenders need to be aware of when your client wants to testify. In re J.B. was decided in 2018. The State appealed the original Court of Appeals decision, but the N.C. Supreme Court denied a hearing. 

Briefly, the facts showed the juvenile chose to testify on his own behalf and incriminated himself (he admitted that he committed an assault on his teacher). The trial court did not inquire as to whether the juvenile understood his right against self-incrimination before he testified. The trial court asked the juvenile if he understood his rights after he testified, and the Court of Appeals determined that was not sufficient to satisfy the requirements under N.C.G.S. §7B-2405 and the error was not harmless.

So – if your client wants to testify, the court must inform the juvenile of his/her constitutional and statutory right against self-incrimination before s/he testifies!

In re J.B., 820 S.E.2d 369 (2018).

OUR NEW ASSISTANT JUVENILE DEFENDER TERRI JOHNSON!

Terri is a lifelong resident of Iredell County, North Carolina.  She graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Duke University in 2000.   She received her Juris Doctor degree from UNC Chapel Hill School of Law in 2003, and was admitted to the North Carolina Bar in 2003.  Since 2003, she has been in private practice as an associate and partner in small firms and then as a solo practitioner.  Her practice areas included criminal law, family law and juvenile law and has focused on juvenile law as a contract attorney in delinquency court in both Iredell and Alexander counties.  She will continue to represent juveniles in Iredell and Alexander county as she joins the Juvenile Defender’s Office as an assistant defender for the Western District of North Carolina.

She currently resides in Statesville, North Carolina and enjoys spending time with her family, reading and photography.

WELCOME TERRI!

Resources

  • Yesterday, NJDC issued a statement on COVID-19 and the urgent need for the juvenile legal system to act. The statement is available on the Defender App. NJDC also released a new resource: Guidance to Juvenile Courts on Conducting Remote Hearings During the COVID-19 Pandemic. The resource is attached to this email and also available on NJDC’s website here
  • Save the Date! NJDC’s Juvenile Defender Leadership Summit will be in Kansas City, Missouri October 16-18, 2020.
  • NCCAY created a brief survey to share your current challenges and creative solutions with the DPS Juvenile Services Division and, in turn, contact you with what we have learned that may help you in your work. You can take the survey here.
  • JCPC has had to make the difficult decision to cancel our legislative conference this year.  Those that have already paid their registration will receive a refund. Please be sure to cancel your hotel reservations as well. 

HAVE A SAFE WEEKEND!

Week In Review: March 23-27

Welcome to Friday! OJD would again like to thank all of our public defenders who are continuing their work while a crisis sweeps through our state. This week we want to focus on some resources and news regarding the youth in secure custody. As stated earlier this week, courts around the country are limiting or altogether restricting visitation to juvenile detention to combat the spread of COVID-19. While at a base level these limitations are important to the safety and physical health of these youth, another issue has come from these sweeping changes: added mental health stress. We want to equip our defenders with as much information as we can to advocate for those currently in YDCs or detention centers.

Secure Custody Tip of the Week:

Use of Audio/Video Transmission for Secure Custody Hearings 

North Carolina law allows for the use of audio and video transmission for secure custody hearings.  Under 7B-1906(h), note specifically that “[I]f the juvenile has counsel, the juvenile may communicate fully and confidentially with the juvenile’s attorney during the proceeding.” 

Currently your court may not have the equipment needed to perform these hearings.  But if your court does have the equipment, here are a few tips to consider: 

  • When possible, collaborate with stakeholders on how to develop rules or protocols that will ensure clients’ rights are considered, especially confidential communications.
  • Having the ability to engage in confidential communications with your client is paramount, so be mindful of the type of technology used to converse with your client.  Also, there should be created a space where others cannot hear your or your client’s discussions.  For example, don’t use a phone without some kind of barrier prevent others from hearing your conversation. 
  • Check out the School of Government’s Professor Jacqui Greene’s recent article on secure custody.  

Courts may be considering other communication platforms as well, such as Facetime, Skype, Zoom or Microsoft Teams.  If any of these are utilized, try to maintain confidentiality as best possible by ensuring other participants are in closed rooms or otherwise out of sight and sound of others. 

Use your best judgement, and always feel free to contact our office with any questions. 

COVID-19 Resources

Throughout the week we have received numerous resources regarding court, secure custody and COVID-19. We wanted to round those up for you here.

FD.ORG COVID-19 Resources: The Defender Services Office and the Administrative Office of the United States Courts have collected information from around the country for defense council varying from appeals, compassionate release, and access to council.

Physicians for Criminal Justice Reform: A letter written by Physicians for Criminal Justice Reform urging governors, juvenile court systems, and state and local juvenile detention and correctional departments to address the health pandemic by swiftly implementing recommendations in juvenile facilities.

Due Process Challenges in a Time of Crisis Webinar: A webinar opportunity that may shed some light on the challenges the legal system is currently experiencing due to the Coronavirus. A little information can go a long way in times like this. 

ADA Letter Regarding COVID-19 & Diabetes: Shared by NACDL,  a letter the American Diabetes Association has created to help educate courts, detention center, and other officials on the unique challenges and risks for individuals with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. It can be used alongside bond/release motions or shared with local law enforcement.

ABA Non-CLE Webinar on NJ’s Rapid Release: On Sunday, March 22, 2020, the Chief Justice of the New Jersey Supreme Court entered an Order providing for the commutation or suspension of many county jail sentences. his webinar will feature many of the key players to discuss the actual terms of the Order, how they came to agreement and how this agreement might serve as a model for decreasing jail populations to limit the spread of COVID-19 in other states.

Resources for Private Council & Small Businesses: Provided by one of our contract attorneys, Donna Terrell, this is a great resource for staying engaged with clients and potential clients while running a private practice.

HAVE SAFE SOCIAL DISTANCING WEEKEND!

Juveniles & COVID-19

As you may know, courts around the country are limiting or altogether restricting visitation to juvenile detention to combat the spread of COVID-19. While at a base level, important to the safety and physical health of these youth, another issue has come from these sweeping changes: added mental health stress.

You can read this article from The Marshall Project. With the limits on visitation, youth are concerned for their loved ones, parents cannot see their child, and the implications of the restriction are taking an emotional toll on all.

For our NC Defenders who has juveniles in secure custody please read below:

We wanted to pass on some information regarding youth in detention. We have spoken with DJJ and here is what they have relayed:

  • all legal visits to the detention centers for juvenile will continue
  • attorneys are asked to call the detention center before they visit
  • attorneys may be screened for COVID-19 (asked a couple questions) to ensure the safety of the youth and staff
  • due to the closure of courts and continuances as a result to Chief Justice Beasley’s Executive Order, DJJ is working to have tele-hearing equipment available by early next week. That equipment is being delivered to the facilities and districts today and may also be available to parents and attorneys to visit electronically with their child/clients in detention in a secure and confidential manner. DJJ said they would let our office know when this option is available.

We understand that some of the detention centers may be filling up, with a reduction in alternatives due to the pandemic.  We encourage you to remind the court of low contact options, such as house arrest or electronic monitoring.  Check out our website for materials and information about Detention Advocacy here, or call our office and we will get back with you!

Week in Review: March 16-20

Welcome to Friday, March 20. As we recognize this week was more difficult than most, OJD would like to thank everyone for their patience and dedication to making sure our youth are taken care of, still well represented and fought for. Defenders, you are superheroes.

Appeals Tip of the Week: Courtesy of David Andrews, Office of the Appellate Defender

Suppression motions and admissions – Give the prosecutor and the court notice of the juvenile’s intent to appeal the suppression order before the juvenile enters the admission AND enter notice of appeal from the dispositional order (not from the suppression order)! 

Court Updates

There have been a few court updates and directives by Chief Justice Beasley to help our community slow the spread of COVID-19. Read below for announcements from the North Carolina Judicial Branch and NCAOC Communications.

On March 13, she issued two emergency directivespostponing most cases in superior and district courts for 30 days and instructing local officials to take steps to limit the risk of exposure in courthouses.

On March 15, 2020, Chief Justice Beasley issued a memo providing guidance to local judges, clerks, and district attorneys as they worked to implement earlier directives. The memo allowed for the public and court personnel to practice social distancing and other preventative measures recommended by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services and the Center for Disease Control. 

On March 19, she announced an order extending filing deadlines and further curtailing other court processes. The order states that documents due to be filed from March 16 to April 17 will be deemed timely filed if received before the close of business on April 17, 2020, and that any actions required to be done during that time can also be postponed until April 17, 2020. 

If you have any questions regarding these orders, please contact your local clerk or visit the Juno website.

North Carolina Celebrates 50 Years of Public Defense

March 18 was declared Public Defender Day in North Carolina by Chief Justice Cheri Beasley and Governor Roy Cooper. The first public defender office opened in January, 1970 in Guilford County. Cumberland and Hoke counties opened offices in the summer that same year. 

OJD is an office full of public defenders and we are happy to help train, develop and support those who currently support our juvenile justice community, those who are just starting juvenile work, and those who will in the future. Here’s a couple shots of OJD in their Anniversary shirts (well, Eric and LaTobia).

Week in Review: Feb 9-13

Good Morning Readers! We know it has been a chaotic week and one filled with a bit of stress. So we’ll keep it light and airy, an easy blog post for your enjoyment.

Appeals Tip of the Week: Courtesy of David Andrews, Office of the Appellate Defender

Suppression motions and contested adjudicatory hearings – If the suppression motion is denied, object when the evidence is admitted at the adjudication hearing because the failure to do so creates a heavier burden on appeal. A pretrial ruling on a motion to suppress is “preliminary,” which means the juvenile must object when evidence is offered during the adjudication hearing. State v. Waring, 364 N.C. 443 (2010). The failure to object when the evidence is admitted subjects the argument to plain error review on appeal. State v. Stokes, 357 N.C. 220 (2003).

Training

An announcement regarding the upcoming Watauga County CLE will be posted later today due to COVID concerns.

Need something to listen to while you work? How about the OJD Podcast?

You can listen to the new podcast here on Soundcloud. Our first episode features Dorothy Hairson-Mitchell, Clinical Assistant Professor/Supervising Attorney Juvenile Law Clinic, NC Central University School of Law, Durham, NC. We have new episodes coming soon!

Stay Safe! See you next week!

Did you hear? We have a PODCAST!

On your way to work, or maybe you’re on your way home, sitting in your office, or working from home? Take a listen to the revamped Office of the Juvenile Defender Podcast!

You can listen to the new podcast here on Soundcloud. Our first episode features Dorothy Hairson-Mitchell, Clinical Assistant Professor/Supervising Attorney Juvenile Law Clinic, NC Central University School of Law, Durham, NC