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!