Week in Review: June 15-19

Here’s to another Friday in the books! Couple announcements and a bit of history today, and of course your weekly tip. Thanks for all that you continue to do.

Tip of the Week – Building Trust

Investing time is the single most important strategy for building trust and rapport with your client.  You need to listen and ask questions without judgment, and explain why you need to ask certain questions.  Allow your client the opportunity, and encourage him/her to ask questions as well.  Be sure to explain to your client how your role is different from other adults s/he has interacted with (i.e. attorney/client privilege).  And most importantly – never make a promise you can’t keep.  If you say you’re going to do something – do it!

Ahem! Announcements!

Juneteenth.

Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States, also known as Freedom Day. June 19th  is recognized as the African American Emancipation Day after news delivered by Union soldiers in 1865, led by Major General Gordon Granger, announced in Galveston, Texas with news that the last of the enslaved were now free. This occurred TWO YEARS after President Lincoln’s Proclamation.

Today marks 155 years since the Emancipation Proclamation was revealed in Texas and many companies and brands have made this day a paid holiday, acknowledging the struggle and victories of the African-American culture. Other organizations will work to make today a day of learning, promoting knowledge and appreciation of African-American history and self-development. Happy Juneteenth.

NEXT WEEK

OJD will be celebrating and providing educational insight to the LGBTQ+ community as it is the last week of Pride Month. We will be sharing insightful tips on how to address, speak, and represent your LGBTQ+ clients in delinquency courts, as well as a little bit of history. Stay tuned!

And Finally…

CHEERS TO THE WEEKEND!

Week in Review: May 11-15

Another week down, many more more to go. Thank you for coming back to read another week in review with OJD. There’s a few webinars we want to tell you about and as always, a Tip of the Week. Short and sweet so you can go grill some hot dogs in this nice weather (save a burnt one for LaTobia) 😀

TIP OF THE WEEK

When Should I Receive the Disposition Report?

You should try to receive the disposition report prior to the dispositional hearing to review with your client.  If possible, try to get a copy of the report at least several days prior to the hearing.  While there is no statutory authority compelling the receipt from the intake counselor, there are local rules which suggest time periods.

Congratulations are in order to LaToya Powell who was named this years CHILDREN’S CHAMPION by the NC Bar Association’s Juvenile Justice and Children’s Rights Section at their annual meeting yesterday!!!!!!!! Congratulations LaToya and thank you for all your hard work defending and protecting children!!

  • Our first DEFENDER ONLY Online CLE Webinar: Video Conference Secure Custody Hearings, is next Friday, May 22 at 11:00 AM. It is a FREE CLE to the first 75 DEFENDERS. To register for this training, click HERE. Place your Job Title & Bar Number in: Job Title to ensure proper CLE credit.  Also include your organization in the Company field.
  • May 15 at 1:00 pm, Dr. Maureen Reardon of @NC_IDS and the Guilford County Public Defender’s Office is hosting a 1 Hour Online CLE on Working with Mental Health Experts: Psychological Testing in Criminal Cases. Register here for this great webinar!
  • May 18, 2020 at 12:00 PM join Strategies for Helping Youth Cope During Uncertain Times Webinar with Ruby Brown-Herring, from the NC Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities, and Substance Abuse Services. You can register here for this webinar.
  • OJJDP is hosting a webinar May 21, 1:00 to 2:15 PM, on Mentoring and Supporting Young People’s Mental Health and Well-being. It will focused on strategies and resources to support mental health for juveniles. Register here.

That sums up this week, have a great (and safe!) weekend! – OJD

Week in Review: May 4-8

Thanks for stopping by for another Week in Review! Plenty of meetings and calls this week as NC gears up to reopen our courts and we’re so ready to share new ways to pursue juvenile justice in this new time. Remember, if you have any questions or suggestions, we are more than willing to help.

Also! OJD is looking to develop and provide webinar training to our Juvenile Defenders throughout this pandemic. We are currently requesting topics and information you would like to have discussed. Please email Austine Long with your thoughts. Thank you.

TIP OF THE WEEK

Youth Development Center commitment

We are focusing our Tips of the Week on stages of juvenile proceedings that disproportionately impact youth of color. This week we are considering commitment to a youth development center (YDC):

  • Whenever disposition is being entered for your client, always argue for the lowest level of disposition.  A small number of points, or a violation of probation, can quickly send your client to YDC.
  • Consult with the court counselor and the ADA on their recommendations to the court.  If possible, negotiate a lesser disposition than YDC commitment before court.
  • Meet with your client before the dispositional hearing and provide the court with an alternative disposition plan that considers the safety of the community and your client’s needs.
  • Provide in court testimony from supportive community members.
  • Consider offering the court recent recidivism studies which indicate that commitment to YDC is factor for increased recidivism in juveniles. 

Resources

  • May 14, 2020 at 11 AM: NC CRED presents an interactive round-table webinar with leading experts in the North Carolina public health and criminal justice systems. The webinar will explore current conditions in North Carolina and discuss actionable steps to help mitigate the adverse effects on people in North Carolina who is a webinar about preparing and conducting video conference secure custody hearings. The speaker will discuss best practices, confidentiality and other important issues concerning video conferencing hearings.are involved with the criminal justice system. To register for this webinar, click HERE.
  • From the Coalition for Juvenile Justice and the National Juvenile Justice Network member call, “COVID-19: The Heightened Dangers of Confinement” here are some resources they discussed.
  1. Distinction between medical isolation and solitary (AMEND at UCSF)
  2. A list of disability specific issues/resources (NDRN)
  3. Center for Educational Excellence in Alternative Settings
  4. Council of Juvenile Justice Administrators
  5. National Commission on Correctional Healthcare
  6. National Partnership on Juvenile Service
  7. Stop Solitary for Kids
  8. Tolerance.org

Thanks for stopping by!

Week in Review: Apr 27 – May 1

Welcome to May Readers! April went by a whole lot faster than March and we’re glad everyone is still safe and joining us for another OJD Week in Review.

TIP OF THE WEEK

Secure Custody

We are focusing our Tips of the Week on stages of juvenile proceedings that disproportionately impact youth of color. This week we are considering secure custody:

  • If possible, find out if your client is being detained before the initial secure custody hearing.  It’s critical to start the attorney-client relationship early and inform your client of their rights as well as what to expect at the hearing.
  • If you meet your client for the first time at the initial secure custody hearing, take a few minutes to introduce yourself, describe your role, and answer any questions about the hearing.
  • Come up with a plan for release:  reasonable conditions on your client, alternative placements, or other information that will help the court support a decision for release.
  • If your client is shackled, argue for the removal prior to court starting.  Shackling has an intense, lasting impact on your client and removal can be a good first step to developing confidence with your client. 
  • If your client is not released, make a plan to contact or visit them in detention to discuss next steps.  Make sure the parent/guardian has the contact information for the detention center as well to facilitate calls or visits.
  • If your client is released, make an appointment to meet before the next court date.  Review any conditions of release and encourage your client to contact you with any questions.

JOB OPPORTUNITY

IDS is seeking applicants for the Contracts Administrator and the position has been posted here:

https://www.governmentjobs.com/careers/northcarolina/jobs/2768601/contracts-administrator

The position closes May 7 at 5pm. This is a great way to contribute to indigent defense in North Carolina for a detailed and energetic individual.

RESOURCES

  1. Resources from Racial Justice for Youth: A Toolkit for Defenders can help you advocate for your many detained clients who are youth of color:

Sign up to access the Toolkit’s defender-only resources.

2. SAVE THE DATE: THURSDAY, MAY 14 11:00 AM to 12:30 PM

COVID-19: Implications of the Pandemic within the Criminal Justice System

NC CRED presents an interactive round-table webinar with leading experts in the North Carolina public health and criminal justice systems.

3. Rewatch Strategies for Youth Webinar: Improving Law Enforcement/Youth Interactions in Times of Crisis

HOPE THE START OF YOUR MONTH AND WEEKEND ARE GREAT!

THANKS FOR READING! JOIN US NEXT FRIDAY!

Week in Review: April 20-24

Hello from Friday with OJD. Another work from home week means that OJD is rounding up resources and information for you, anything we can do to help. It always goes without saying but thank you so much for your dedication to continuing the good (juvenile justice) fight, even from your homes.

TIP OF THE WEEK

Complaints Received

We are focusing our Tips of the Week on stages of juvenile proceedings that disproportionately impact youth of color. This week we are considering complaints received:

Attorneys are appointed to cases once a complaint is received by juvenile justice, then filed as a complaint.  So generally attorneys can’t impact whether or not a complaint is received.  But attorneys can prevent the case from going to adjudication by:

  • Asking for a dismissal for various reasons, such as the victim no longer wishes to prosecute or the juvenile has already made amends through a mediation program or restitution.
  • Continue the case for an opportunity for the juvenile to participate in a program such as suggested above, or Teen Court if your jurisdiction has one.
  • After an admission, ask the court to informally defer prosecution without an adjudication.

Resources

  1. IDS recently released information on how PAC can file fee apps for teleconferencing and interim fee apps. Please visit ncids.org for more information.
  2. Legal Aid-ACS has synthesized the federal and state guidance that has come out to date and offer concrete tips and resources for advocating for students during school closures. You can get more information here. There are five documents: 
  3. On Friday, May 1st from 11 AM to 12 PM, Legal Aid-ACS is also hosting a Coronavirus-and-Education Know Your Rights training via Zoom and Facebook Live.  The ZOOM link is at: https://zoom.us/j/91168580266. This session will include overviews of recent guidance, along with lots of practical tips for advocating for students. For those who can’t attend the live session, a video recording will also be available on Legal Aid of NC’s Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/LegalAidNC ) for families and advocates to access whenever they are available.

THANKS FOR READING!!

AS ALWAYS, HAVE A GREAT WEEKEND AND BE SAFE!!

Week in Review: Apr 13-17

Happy Friday Readers! It’s been another hard (at home) working week for OJD, but with a constant focus on providing the most beneficial and practical information during this time. This week we don’t have a tip for you, rather an important message regarding racial justice for juveniles of color and secure custody. With COVID-19 affecting our detention centers and YDCs, it’s vital to remember that fair treatment includes every juvenile. Read below for viable resources to combat that.

In June 2019 a new study on North Carolina disproportionate minority contact was published.   Using data from DJJ, the study showed that the race of a juvenile contributes to disproportionate negative outcomes, especially for black youth.  Specifically, black youth were more likely to have complaints filed against them, be placed in secure custody, or committed to a youth development center (YDC).  In an attempt to better serve youth color in the system, here are several resources on representing youth of color:

Other Resources from the National Juvenile Defender Center

In addition, the next three tips of the week will focus on the stages of complaints filed, secure custody, and youth development center commitment.

You can also download this post here for your keeping.

North Carolina Defenders

Yesterday we released an important notice regarding operational changes to instituted by state juvenile justice officials in response to the Covid-19 pandemic that may affect youth held in detention. Please continue to refer to that release for resources on how best to serve your clients in secure custody and for the encouragement of alternative options.

THANKS FOR READING AND STAY TUNED FOR NEXT WEEK!

BE SAFE AND STAY HEALTHY!

Important North Carolina Defender Alert

Defenders,

We want to make you aware of operational changes instituted by state juvenile justice officials in response to the Covid-19 pandemic that may affect youth held in detention. You can find the official policy release here.

Of particular concern is the provision providing for “Placement of all juvenile detention center/crisis and assessment center admissions in medical room confinement for 14 days and until cleared by a medical provider to join the general population.” Our understanding after speaking with DJJ is that newly admitted youth are being segregated into pods and largely kept in their cells, according to protocols advised by the Center for Disease Control.

While DJJ is trying to engage these youth so they don’t feel isolated, the negative effect of solitary confinement on the mental health of youth is well documented. We also understand that if the youth leaves the facility and returns (including for secure custody hearings) the youth is placed back into medical room confinement for 14 days.

We want to encourage you to talk to your client if s/he is being held in detention to find out what is happening in that particular detention facility, and use not only DJJ’s policy of encouraging release by use of electronic monitoring or other community-based options (as outlined in the policy above), but also the information available in the links below to help inform the judge of the significant negative consequences of this type of confinement of youth and their mental health – especially youth with already existing mental health challenges. If your jurisdiction does not yet utilize audio/visual transmission for detention hearings, investigate this option as it will impact whether your client will have to re-enter medical room confinement.

Below are resources that you can consider using when arguing for your client to be released from detention:

  • Language from the Governor’s and NCDPS response to the Petition for Writ of Mamandus that was filed (the language pertaining to juveniles held in detention begins on page number 25 in the brief, but page 33 in the PDF).
  • ACLU briefing paper “No Child Left Alone” – Not related to Covid-19, but addresses the devastating effects of solitary confinement, regardless of what it’s called (i.e. isolation, medical confinement, etc.)
  • The Marshall Project article “What Happens When More Than 300,000 Prisoners are Locked Down?” – while not entirely juvenile focused, this also discusses the effects of isolation in confinement. “Solitary confinement can increase anxiety and disordered thinking, worsen mental health problems and heighten the risk of suicide.”

Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us if you need help crafting a motion or argument – we’re here to help!

You can download and save a copy of this alert here.

Thank you for all that you do and are doing during this difficult and trying time.

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!

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!