From A Lawyer’s View: The Kitchen Sink

Over the past several months, attorneys at the Office of the Juvenile Defender, the Wake County Public Defender’s Office, and my office (the Office of the Appellate Defender) have been strategizing on how to challenge automatic transfer from juvenile court to superior court.  One other attorney – Katie Kerr – served as both scribe and generator-of-ideas.  Katie helped move this process along and deserves a great deal of credit for pulling us over the finish line.  The finish line, of course, are new packets for juvenile defenders to challenge automatic transfer from district court to superior court.

The new packets come in two varieties.  One for 13-, 14-, and 15-year-olds and one for 16- and 17-year-olds.  Each packet contains instructions, a motion and a supporting memorandum for district court, and a separation motion and memorandum for superior court. 

Why all the fuss?  There two primary concerns: completeness and waiver. 

Regarding completeness: Those of us who worked on these packets tried to come up with any and all arguments that might convince a court to strike down automatic transfer.  The kitchen sink, you might say.  We might have missed a few arguments, but we included several, including procedural and substantive due process, cruel and unusual punishment, and even the deprivation of the right to counsel.  We don’t know which – if any – of these ideas might work, but we hope that at least one will.

Regarding waiver: Appeals are byzantine.  There are many traps for the unwary, including waiver.  In order to blunt inevitable waiver arguments on appeal, we strongly recommend that you challenge automatic transfer in both juvenile court and adult court.  File the motions and memoranda.  Then, raise all of the arguments orally and get rulings on them all.  As I mentioned above, we might not win on the merits, but we at least want to be able to argue the merits on appeal.

If you have questions about challenging automatic transfer, I encourage you to post them to the juvenile listserv.  I guarantee others will have the same concerns.  And good luck litigating this important issue!

The motions and instructions can be located on the Office of the Juvenile Defender website in the Defender’s Only Section. If you need to obtain access, please contact LaTobia Avent at Latobia.s.avent@nccourts.org


Written by, David Andrews. David W. Andrews is an Assistant Appellate Defender in the North Carolina Office of the Appellate Defender (OAD), a division of the Office of Indigent Defense Services. OAD staff attorneys represent indigent clients in criminal, juvenile delinquency, and involuntary commitment appeals to the Court of Appeals of North Carolina and the Supreme Court of North Carolina.

Youth Assessment & Screening Instrument (YASI)

Youth Assessment & Screening Instrument (YASI)

by Kim Howes, Assistant Juvenile Defender

The Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) is implementing a new screening tool (YASI) to replace the current risk and needs assessment. The stated purpose of this new assessment is to better measure the risk of recidivism and to help develop an appropriate case plan to best suit the needs of the youth who is placed on probation. You can access the presentation from DJJ here.

The assessment addresses nine domains: basic needs, physical health, school, family, aggression, peers, attitudes, free time, and adaptive skills. There is both a pre-screen assessment and a full assessment. The Department of Juvenile Justice provided an overview of the assessment in November and as a result we want to provide you with some of our concerns as well as provide you with issues you may need to be aware of to assist you with advocating for your client at disposition.

Most importantly, this assessment is designed to take place at intake or prior to adjudication. While statute §7B-2413 specifically provides that the risk and needs assessment shall not be submitted or considered by the court prior to disposition, we know that in some jurisdictions this isn’t the case and information is shared prior to adjudication. This is especially an area of concern given the new assessment. As an important reminder – §7B-2408 explicitly prohibits any statement made by the youth to a juvenile court counselor during intake to be admissible to the court prior to the dispositional hearing.

Issues to be aware of:

  • The child accumulates points for not only prior adjudications, but also referrals and petitions filed for probation violations, regardless of whether or not the violation was adjudicated.
  • Several sections (basic needs, free time, community involvement, school) have the potential to create disparity based on poverty and DSS involvement, not necessarily factors that are in our client’s control.
  • There are broad stroke assumptions about who may or may not be a positive influence and who may or may not be a gang member.
  • The sections addressing attitudes and aggression are areas of significant concern. These sections assume the youth is responsible and if the youth doesn’t admit there are points assessed for impact of behavior and willingness to make amends. There are several additional questions that address sex offenses that could possibly lead to additional petitions.

 These concerns are difficult to address because the majority of these assessments will be conducted prior to assignment of counsel. As a result, depending on your jurisdiction, you may need to proactively ensure that any information received is not provided to the ADA prior to adjudication, and if it is, consider objecting to the court and, if necessary, making a motion to suppress statements made to the court counselor. We have a sample motion here.

We hope by making you aware of this new assessment and its potential issues you will be better able to protect your client’s rights and help the court understand your client in a way that will help the court better address your client’s individual needs at disposition. Please reach out to OJD to let us know of any concerns you see as this is implemented.

You can access and review the pre-screen assessment here, and full assessment here.


If you would like to save this blog post as a document, please click here.

Your 2020 Year in Review

We have reached the Year in Review portion of our weekly reviews! How did we get here so fast?! While this year has been the most challenging, between Zoom & WebEx, crashing technology and “Can you hear me?” ten times a day, everyone has worked so hard to keep our support of #JuvenileJustice strong. So true to tradition we have put together a culmination of what OJD has done throughout the year and it feels like so much :D.

With the tremulous year of 2020 ending, The Office of the Juvenile Defender (OJD) would like to recap how the year unfolded through it all. We’ll review how OJD hired a new Assistant Juvenile Defender, hosted new trainings, managed the first year of Raise the Age (RTA), and produced several materials as required for the second year of the federal OJJDP grant. OJD has worked throughout the year to keep our defenders informed and supported, while working on new ways to serve the state, such as our Regionalization plan.

Activities and Initiatives Since COVID-19 

Since the beginning of the pandemic, OJD has held weekly check-ins to speak about current projects, ways to engage in the community without physical contact, and how to support defenders in the best way through the various projects listed in this report. OJD has been reaching out to defenders in the field, offering support and resources and gathering information to relay to the defender community.  Additionally, we have communicated with other court actors, especially juvenile justice administration, to stay updated with ongoing changes in policies and procedures. We began work on additional pocket guides like the RTA guide released in December. Each guide will highlight a specific area of juvenile delinquency law and provide defender strategies, such as secure custody and adjudication. We also began developing remote training capabilities and plan to pilot trainings during the court closure. Each one of these activities and initiatives will be discussed further below along with updates from the initiatives from 2019.

Raise the Age

              While RTA implementation has been slowed by the impact of COVID on the courts, OJD has been steadily reacting to the impact of the new law: 

  • General consulting on trial and appellate issues 
  • Focusing on specific issues, including indictment procedure and the intersection of bonds with youth in detention 
  • Challenging the “automatic” transfer provisions through motions practice 
  • Working with IDS General Counsel on the development of a comprehensive chart on the appointment/payment/recoupment of attorneys representing transferred juveniles 
  • Participation on the Juvenile Jurisdiction Advisory Committee, with a focus on discussing ongoing conforming changes to the law, as well as the minimum age of juvenile jurisdiction in NC (it is currently 6, the lowest stated age in the U.S.) 

Take a break, settle in and get comfy, and read our 2020 Year in Review here.

Week in Review: Dec 7-11

Hello from another Friday Readers! We’re inching closer and closer to a new year and even closer to cold weather. Hope you’re staying warm and cozy while you keep up the amazing work of juvenile defense or advocating for juvenile rights. And next week, we’ll be recapping what a year 2020 has been within OJD and the NC Court System. See you then!

Raise the Age Tip of The Week

How Do I Know the State Will be Seeking the Gang Enhancement Against My Juvenile?

Under current law, there is no process for notice to the juvenile and the juvenile’s attorney that the state is seeking the gang enhancement.  As the juvenile’s attorney, you should consider the following:

  • Get a copy of the gang assessment from DJJ prior to adjudication
  • Argue that the notice of gang enhancement be presented pre-adjudication
  • Develop a theory of defense against client’s involvement in gang activity
  • Prepare for a hearing on the issue
  • Request a hearing, similar to an adjudicatory hearing
  • Request the court make findings on the record and appeal where  appropriate

ncIMPACTFaceBook Live Event

LaToya Blackmon Powell will be participating in a live panel discussion about School Justice Partnerships, hosted by Anita Brown-Graham, Professor of Public Law and Government and Director of the ncIMPACT initiative at the School of Government. The discussion will be filmed by UNC-TV as a Facebook Live event from 12-1 PM this coming Monday, December 14.

We hope you are able to attend and participate in the virtual discussion and/or share the information with others who may be interested. This is a great opportunity to ask questions and engage in an interactive conversation.

Juvenile Defense Policy and Practice Resource Guide

The National Juvenile Defender Center (NJDC) is pleased to announce the release of their updated Juvenile Defense Policy and Practice Career Resource Guide.  Every year, NJDC updates this guide to provide students and others with valuable resources to jumpstart a career in juvenile defense. NDJC has created this electronic guide to raise the profile of juvenile defense as a career.  It is intended for law students interested in pursuing juvenile defense as a career and includes information on coursework and externships that will help strengthen a candidate’s application in the juvenile defense field; resources to guide in the search for juvenile defense jobs, fellowships, and funding opportunities; and a list of offices around the country that provide employment and internship opportunities specific to juvenile defense. Please feel free to use it as a resource and share with others who may be interested!

Now Seeking 2021 “From a Lawyer’s View”  Guest Bloggers

LaTobia is looking for guest bloggers to contribute to our new series, “From a Lawyer’s View”. Defenders and those in juvenile justice are welcome to write in on topics of their expertise: secure custody, mental health in juveniles, etc! We want to hear from you! We’ll take your tips and blog posts! Reach out to LaTobia here for more information.

Week in Review: Nov 30 – Dec 4

Happy December Readers! Can you honestly believe we are in DECEMBER already? With everything we have collectively experienced in 2020, raise your hand if you’re ready for a new year! So let’s start our countdown together, shall we?

LET’S CELEBRATE ONE YEAR OF RAISE THE AGE!

It’s officially been 1 year (and 3 days to be exact) since Raise the Age went into effect. One year of some legal shaking in the courtroom, 1 year of 16 and 17 year old’s who commit crimes (with exceptions) being treated as youth and not adults, in the eyes of the law. How has RTA affected your stance in the courtroom? Has it been more difficult, challenging or a breeze? We want to hear from you!

Tip of the Week – RTA Edition

What Is the Process for Indictment?

Once a petition is filed against a juvenile, the prosecutor may submit the petition to a grand jury for indictment.  Unlike in adult criminal court where the prosecutor submits a bill of information prior to charges being filed, in juvenile court the grand jury process starts after the formal charging process (petition filed) begins.  If an indictment is handed down against the juvenile and the juvenile is given notice, the juvenile court must transfer the case to superior court.

JOB POSTING!

The Council for Children’s Rights in Charlotte / Mecklenburg County. They are seeking to hire a full-time Juvenile Defense Attorney to join its Children’s Defense Team.  The Juvenile Defense Attorney will represent children in delinquency and civil commitment matters in Mecklenburg County Juvenile Court.  To apply, please submit a cover letter and resume by December 7, 2020. 

A direct link to this job posting and to apply can be found by clicking here.  Please feel free to share this on your social media and with your colleagues. We have also posted this on our Twitter (@NCOJD) and our FaceBook (@NCOJD) for easy re-sharing.

Week in Review: Oct 26-30

Trick or Treat Readers! We hope you had a great week, and that your Zoom and WebEx calls were safe from the Bandwidth Ghost.

Tip of the Week

Immigration Consultations 

Did you know that IDS has made immigration consultants available to all defenders who have been appointed indigent clients? That means all of your juvenile clients! This may be especially helpful to determine if your client may be eligible for some type of immigration relief since s/he is a juvenile. Simply go to the IDS website to access the form here. You may want to print out the printable version and put it in your case file to fill out when you meet your client and then upload the information when you get back to the office.

Thank you to everyone who attended our “haunted” CLE, Probation and Post Supervision. While we did not anticipate the WebEx issues, we do have some great tips to share from our WebEx admin:

  • If you do not have a @NCCOURTS.ORG email domain, next time you go to WebEx, just click Join Meeting. Do not click Sign-In but rather just follow the prompts as they appear. If it asks for a meeting number, it is located in your registration approval email.
  • Remember that some applications delete this email if you add it to your calendar, which is also a direct link to the meeting and all you’ll need is the password.

We appreciate your patience while these WebEx kinks get worked out in court and for everything else!

Resources

  • What exactly is a YDC or Detention Center?: This YouTube video explains what Detention Centers and Youth Development Centers (YDC) are, the differences and what attorneys, parents, and youth can expect if their adjudication includes a stay in either. Please watch this short video created by NC DPS.
  • North Carolina Department of Public Safety Juvenile Justice Section will begin using a new risk and needs assessment instrument beginning January 1, 2021. This new tool is called the Youth Assessment and Screening Instrument (YASI).  DJJ is offering virtual Q&A’s on the new tool to assist with the use when it launches. Please click here to see times to sign up for a session, REGISTRATION ENDS TODAY!
  • Public Defenders and Assistant Public Defenders, check out this grant information to assist with law school debt. The JRJ grant is a loan assistance program. The federal John R. Justice (JRJ) grant is available for prosecutors and public defenders most in need of assistance with heavy law school debt load. The JRJ grant is a loan repayment assistance program.  Selections will be made by the NC LEAF Board on Friday, December 4 at 10 AMApplications are due November 13 and the process is not onerous. The key factor is making the required three-year commitment to remain in the job or face repayment of funds provided by the US government. All the information is available on their website https://ncleaf.org/ 
  • October 15-16, NJDC held their 2020 Juvenile Defender Leadership Summit. Filled with presentations, resources and conversation, NJDC has released some of their resources from the program for your viewing and saving. Some sessions and resources require a password, so make sure you’re registered, but click here to check out what you missed!
  • The Public Defender Education group at the School of Government is happy to announce the release of the 2020 edition of the North Carolina Defender Manual, Volume Two, Trial, by Julie Lewis and John Rubin. The manual focuses on criminal procedure at the trial stage and includes chapters researched and written from 2018 to 2020. The manual is intended to be a resource for trial-level criminal defense attorneys; however, others who work in North Carolina’s criminal courts may find it useful. Click here if you are interested in purchasing a hard copy. The manual is also available for viewing online at no charge as a part of the Indigent Defense Manual Series

We hope you find some great -information this week and have a safe, fun, and scary Halloween! Eat plenty of Snickers for us!

Interstate Compact for Juveniles Overview – Week in Review: Oct 12-16

Happy Friday Defenders! Today’s blog post is one giant Tip of the Week written by our Assistant Juvenile Defender, Terri Johnson. This tip covers the Interstate Compact for Juveniles and is an overview of the enforceable federal law and how it is applied to juvenile delinquency court.

Interstate Compact for Juveniles Overview

Please continue reading today’s blog post by following the link above. Feel free to print yourself a copy and if you have any questions, please email Terri (terri.a.johnson@nccourts.org).

Announcement

There’s still space and time to get your FREE CLE credit from OJD this month. Thursday, October 29 from 2:30-3:30 PM: Probation Violations & Post Supervision, covering ongoing detention hearings as well as violations of probation and post release supervision. Commitment extensions, motions for review, and expunctions will also be covered. This CLE will be free to the first 35 registrants and CLE is currently pending approval. Please join us for a fresh new topic, great strategy and a few tips. PLEASE CLICK HERE TO REGISTER.

Week in Review: Sept 28-Oct 2

New month, same Week in Review. Happy Friday readers! We have a brand new tip for you today, an important Fee App memo and then it’s off to the races! Enjoy!

Important Fee App Information

There has been an increase in fee apps that have had errors in filing and causing delay in payment. We have gathered some information and created a memo to both Public Defenders and PAC to ensure accurate and timely filing for your fee apps, including which forms to file per your title and what to double check. Please see this memo for further instructions and feel free to download and print for your reference.

Tip of the Week

Venue – by Assistant Juvenile Defender, Terri Johnson

7B-1800 provides that adjudication shall take place in the county where the offense was alleged to have occurred.  If the juvenile is in residential treatment or foster care in that district, disposition shall occur there as well unless the court finds that transfer would “serve the ends of justice or is in the best interests of the juvenile.” 

Subsection (b) provides that the court may transfer disposition to the juvenile’s county of residence.  If the Court does not transfer disposition, it must notify the chief district court judge in the district where the juvenile resides and shall transfer the matter if the chief district court judge requests it.  If the court does not exercise its discretion to transfer a matter to the juvenile’s county of residence under 7B-1800(b)(1) or (b)(2), the court shall advise the juvenile of his/her right to transfer under 7B-1803(b)(3)If the juvenile requests transfer to his/her county of residence, the court shall transfer the matter to district where the juvenile resides for disposition.

Defenders should be aware of 7B-1800 and utilize venue where appropriate for both adjudication and disposition.  Utilize motions to dismiss for improper venue prior to or during adjudication hearings.  Additionally, the statute may be utilized for disposition to benefit a juvenile.  Remember different counties may have different policies and transfer or retention of disposition should be considered by counsel carefully.

Counsel with cases where venue may be an issue may contact OJD for assistance connecting with attorneys in other counties to collaborate on those matters.

SAVE THE DATE!

Our October CLE will be October 29, 2020 from 2:30-3:30. The topic is Probation Violations & Post Supervision and will be presented by Mary Stansell, Juvenile Chief, Wake County Public Defender Office. Be on the look out for your official registration link. As always, this CLE will be free to the first 35 registrants. CLE is currently pending. Hope to see you there!

And lastly…

THANK YOU TO EVERYONE WHO ATTENDED OUR SEPTEMBER CLE “DEFENDING CHILDREN FROM ICE”!

We hope to see you face to face soon with trainings and CLEs and appreciate your constant support and registration every month!

Week in Review: Sept 7-11

Happy Friday Readers! Another week down in 2020 and we’re still all trying to figure it out. But no worries, OJD is here to help along the way. Before we get started, we take a moment to recognize the importance of today, and remember those lives lost and the heroes from September 11, 2001.

Tip of the Week – Prior Record Level Matters

If your client’s prior record places him/her in a position for the judge to enter a level 1 OR 2 dispositional level, ALWAYS argue for a level 1 disposition.  You can find a copy of the disposition chart here.  Make sure to check the final written order for accuracy.

Who could turn down free learning? CLE OFFER!

Friday September 25, 2020, 2:30-3:30 PM OJD is hosting “Defend Children From ICE.” Presented by Helen Parsonage, Board Certified Immigration Specialist and FREE to the first 35 DEFENDERS who register. Discussing the topic of children and immigration, strategies in your defense and other great information, You DON’T want to miss this training. Register herePLEASE PUT YOUR BAR NUMBER IN THE JOB FIELD BOX.

Symposium: The Roles of Prosecutor and Public Defender in Criminal Justice Reform

October 2, 2020 from 10:00AM-3:00PM (EST). This will be a virtual symposium presented by the North Carolina Commission on Racial and Ethnic Disparities (NC CRED) in collaboration with the National Consortium on Racial and Ethnic Fairness in the Courts. The Keynote Speaker is Jonathan Rapping, Founder and President, Gideon’s Promise, Atlanta and will also feature presentations from prosecutors and defenders from across the country and of course, North Carolina. You can see a list of speakers and topics, by clicking HERE. To register, click HERE. Thank you!

“A Lawyer’s View” Needs an October Submission

LaTobia is looking for guest bloggers to contribute to our Week in Review. Defenders and those in juvenile justice are welcome to write in on topics of their expertise: secure custody, mental health in juveniles, etc! We want to hear from you! There’s plenty more weeks left in the year! Reach out to LaTobia here for more information.

Week in Review: Aug 10-14

Another Friday in the books! Thanks for stopping by to read up on OJD’s week! And stay tuned next week for a brand new A Lawyer’s View installment!

First, an Announcement from AOC:

NCAOC’s Office of General Counsel (OGC) has provided legal advice and guidance to court officials around the State regarding remote juvenile hearings and confidentiality of exhibits. This is a brief FAQ regarding technology, sharing screens and other topics surrounding WebEx hearings in juvenile court. Please read the full document here. It is not intended and should not be interpreted as legal advice or guidance to parties to individual proceedings before the courts.

Tip of the Week

Suppression motions aren’t often used in the District Court setting (outside DWI cases), however juvenile court offers many opportunities for suppression.  The juvenile code outlines the procedure for filing a motion to suppress (§7B-2408.5) and it may be made either in writing before the adjudicatory hearing or orally during the hearing.  Consider whether or not your client’s statement or identifications may be subject to suppression.  Remember – “in custody” is an objective test!  The test is whether a “reasonable juvenile” in the position of the respondent would believe him/herself to be in custody OR that s/he had been deprived of freedom of action in some significant way, and is not based on the subjective intent of the interrogator or the perception of the person under questioning.  That means if your client is in the principal’s office and the SRO is standing in front of the door, would your client feel free to leave?

Thank You!

To everyone that joined our Covid-19: State of our Mental Health Part II webinar last night! Thank you to our speakers, Dorothy Hairston-Mitchell, Jesse Edmonds & Nikki Croteau-Johnson you three did wonderful, giving great insight into our youth in and out of the juvenile system and how best to serve them during these times. From discussions about school, detention, ways to get active and to monitor our children’s mental health, we discussed it all. A bit of everyone joined too, from students to law professionals to the general public. Such great questions and comments! Big takeaway: It takes a village to raise a child.

Don’t Forget!

OJD is looking for guest bloggers to contribute to our new series: A Lawyer’s View. Defenders and those in juvenile justice are welcome to write in on topics of their expertise: secure custody, mental health in juveniles, etc! We want to hear from you! There’s plenty more weeks left in the year! Reach out to LaTobia here for more information.