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!

OJD Week in Review: August 26-30

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School’s Back

As students return to school, defenders may want to check out the OJD website for tips on defending students charged at school.  Under Materials for Defenders you can find a list of Materials by Training Subject.  Check out “School Related Issues” and “Special Education” topics.

New Resources

NJDC App

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The National Juvenile Defender Center (NJDC) recently released Juvenile Defense Resources, a mobile app available in the Apple Store and Google Play Store, which provides juvenile defense attorneys with helpful resources to defend young people in delinquency cases. Through the mobile app, juvenile defense attorneys can access sample motions, reports, issues briefs, policy statements, checklists, and other helpful tools to grow their legal, advocacy, and leadership skills, and to improve the practice of lawyers that represent young people.

To access the mobile app, juvenile defense attorneys can search “Juvenile Defense Resources” or “National Juvenile Defender Center” in the search box within their respective application stores and install the app (see photo for reference). In order to sign up to access the app, prospective members must certify that they are currently representing youth in delinquency court, and will be directed to create a username and password unique to each member. You may sign up directly through the mobile app or through NJDC’s website, via the login button on NJDC’S homepage or directly at this link.

Please note that the mobile app is password protected and you will not be able to access the resources until your request for access has been approved. Please allow up to three (3) business days for your request to be approved.

Over the next few weeks, NJDC will continue to build the database of resources available through the mobile app. If you have any questions or run into any technical issues when trying to sign up or access the mobile app, or the resources contained within, please contact NJDC’s 2017-2019 Gault Fellow, Aneesa Khan, at akhan@njdc.info for assistance.

Detention Toolkit

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The National Juvenile Defender Center (NJDC) has released a new toolkit, A Right to Liberty: Resources for Challenging the Detention of Children.

Ensuring a child or young person remains out of detention prior to trial safeguards their right to liberty and the presumption of innocence. The resources contained in this toolkit can be used to uphold and advance children’s liberty interests at the individual level and in policy advocacy.  Though NC does not have money bail for juveniles, the toolkit provides helpful strategies for arguing for your clients’ release from detention.

Included in the toolkit are:

  • A Right to Liberty: The Origin of Bail
  • Annotated Bibliography on Risks Associated with Incarceration
  • Sample Habeas Petition Challenging the Pretrial Detention of Children

This resource is accessible by clicking here. The Sample Habeas Petition is accessible by clicking here.

 

OJD Week in Review: Mar. 18 – 22

Hello again and Happy Friday!  This week we’ve got a new training announcement, a job opportunity, the tip of the week, and reminders for previously mentioned opportunities.

Tip of the Week – My Client is in Detention… How Do I Find Them?

There are currently eight detention centers in North Carolina:

  • Alexander Juvenile Detention Center in Taylorsville
  • Cabarrus Regional Juvenile Detention Center in Concord
  • Cumberland Regional Juvenile Detention Center in Fayetteville
  • New Hanover Regional Juvenile Detention Center in Castle Hayne
  • Pitt Regional Juvenile Detention Center in Greenville
  • Wake Juvenile Detention Center in Raleigh
  • Durham County Youth Home in Durham
  • Guilford County Detention Center in Greensboro

Check with your court counselor’s office to find out which location your client is being held, and check here for contact information to visit and call your client.

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Training

The North Carolina Bar Association (NCBA) Juvenile Justice & Children’s Rights, Education Law, Criminal Justice Sections, and Minorities in the Profession Committee are proud to present the Racial Equity Institute’s (REI) “Groundwater Presentation: An Introduction to Racial Equity”!  This free event will take place on May 9 from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Bar Center (8000 Weston Parkway).  More information and a link for registration will be available soon, but if you have any questions about the event, please contact Andi Bradford.  (Please note that while the event is free for everyone to attend, no more than 175 attendees will be permitted, so please register early!)

The Center for Juvenile Justice Reform (CJJR) is accepting applications for its Youth in Custody Certificate Program, to be held July 22 – 26 at Georgetown University in partnership with Council of Juvenile Correctional Administrators.  This training is designed to help juvenile justice system leaders and partners improve outcomes for youth in custodial settings, covering critical areas including racial and ethnic disparities, family engagement, assessment, case planning, facility-based education and treatment services, reentry planning and support, and culture change.  Please apply by April 12.

Save the Date!  The Southern Juvenile Defender Center will be hosting its 9th Annual Regional Summit on June 7th & 8th in New Orleans this year.  More details should arrive soon, but please contact Randee Waldman or Richard Pittman with questions.

TRAINING--DEVELOPMENT

Job and Fellowship Opportunity

The National Juvenile Defender Center is seeking a Mid-Level Staff Attorney with recent front-line juvenile defense experience to join our team.  The staff attorney will be responsible for conducting extensive legal research, analysis, and writing; will respond to requests for assistance from juvenile defense attorneys or stakeholders in the field; and may be called upon to provide training.  The staff attorney will work in partnership with our leadership team, staff, and community to advance NJDC’s mission and programs.  The position encompasses a diverse set of responsibilities, including: provide direct support and technical assistance to juvenile defense attorneys, policy advocates, and other juvenile court stakeholders working to improve access to and the quality of juvenile defense representation at the state, local, tribal, and national levels; support juvenile defense practice and policy, generally, by conducting extensive legal research and analysis and drafting reports, articles, fact sheets, and advocacy tools; act as a liaison with NJDC’s network of regional juvenile defender centers; engage in critical and strategic analysis of issues impacting youth rights and equity; contribute to and manage an assigned portfolio of projects while also being available to assist other team members as needed; and collaborate with coalition partner organizations.  For more instructions on how to apply and further job description details, please check here.

The National Juvenile Justice Network (NJJN)  is now accepting applications to the 2019 Youth Justice Leadership Institute!  The Institute is a year-long fellowship program focused on developing a strong base of well-prepared and well-equipped advocates and organizers who reflect the communities most affected by juvenile justice system practices and policies.  This program is geared towards individuals of color working as professionals in the juvenile justice field, who may also be young adults who are system survivors themselves, or family members of someone in the system.  Each year, 10 fellows from across the country are selected to develop their leadership and advocacy skills in the context of a robust curriculum around youth justice reform.  The fellowship is completed concurrently with fellows’ current employment, so fellows do not have to leave their jobs to participate in the Institute.  The fellowship includes two fully financed retreats, mentoring and frequent distance learning opportunities.  Interested in learning more about the Institute, or know someone who might be?  NJJN will be hosting its second and final informational webinar on April 4, led by the Institute’s coordinator, Diana Onley-Campbell.  To learn more or apply, find additional info here, or please register for one of the informational webinars here.  The deadline to apply for the fellowship will be 11:59 p.m. on April 29th.

This is the end of our review for this week.  Please be sure to join us over on Twitter and Facebook to get more juvenile justice-related info throughout the week and make sure to subscribe to the blog!

OJD Week in Review: Feb. 12-16

This week there is of course more training to come and a few other events and resources to note.  And we would also like to bring a special notice to the attention of  juvenile defenders:

A Quick Note from IDS

Indigent Defense Services continues to try to address the low hourly rates that resulted from the budget crisis in 2011.  We will once again ask for expansion funding to increase the rates $10 across the board as partial restoration of the pre-May 2011 rates.  However, we face an uphill battle as that cost is over $10 Million.

Earlier this year, we did identify availability in our budget to address a small portion of cases and increased the rate paid for High-Level Felonies (Class A-D) to $75/hour.  Attorneys and judges in delinquency court sometimes forget that the hourly rate for these higher level felonies is different than the usual $55/rate.  For cases disposed of prior to November 1, 2017 where the highest original charge was a Class A-D Felony, the hourly rate should be $70; for cases disposed of November 1, 2017, the rate is $75/hour.

Around the Defender Community

All juvenile justice advocates are welcome to come out to support Scott Holmes who will be honored at the Elna B. Spaulding Founder’s Award Partner’s for Peace Celebration.  Scott is an assistant clinical professor of law and supervising attorney of the Civil Litigation Clinic at North Carolina Central University.  He has long been a champion for the rights of children, immigrants, and the mentally ill and he has represented jail, protesters, Black Lives Matter protesters, families of minorities killed by police, and many other activists and disadvantaged groups.  The event will take place on  Thursday, March 22, from 6:30 to 8:30 at Hill House on 900 S. Street, Durham, N.C.  Advanced tickets are $30 and tickets can be purchased at the door for $35.  More event details can be found here.

Earlier this week, Youth First released a video titled “Jim Crow Juvenile Justice”.  The film explores the history of youth prisons, including the correlation between the 13th Amendment and the creation of these institutions, and examines the modern juvenile justice system from a racial-justice standpoint.  Please take a moment to view the short film here.

The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention will be hosting a webinar from 2-3 p.m. on Feb. 20 to provide information for its FY18 Juvenile Justice Emergency Planning Demonstration Program.  The webinar will cover project scope, eligibility requirements and other information for those interested in applying to support this project.  Please check out OJJDP’s website for more details and you can register here for the webinar.

Training Time, Y’all!

Registration is open for Higher-Level Felony Defense, Part I.  This training will take place April 9-10 and will offer 9.0 CLE credit hours.  Topics will include working with investigators and experts, building rapport with clients, investigation and discovery, the theory of defense, and third-party records.  Space is limited for only 36 participants, so please hurry if you are interested in participating!  Members of public defender offices should get approval from the Chief Public Defender to register and contractors and privately assigned counsel must receive a fellowship from IDS Director Tom Maher.  For more information on registration, the agenda, and hotel information please visit here.

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The Center for Juvenile Justice Reform(CJJR) is accepting applications for its Youth in Custody Certificate Program, to be held June 11–15, 2018, at Georgetown University in Washington, DC.  This training is designed for juvenile justice system leaders and partners working to improve outcomes for youth in post-adjudication custody.  The curriculum covers critical areas, including culture change and leadership, addressing racial and ethnic disparities, family engagement, assessment, case planning, facility-based education and treatment services, and reentry planning and support.  Upon approval of a Capstone Project Proposal initiating or building on local reform efforts, participants receive an Executive Certificate from Georgetown University and join the CJJR Fellows Network of more than 850 individuals.  Applications will be accepted until March 2.

We also would like to remind everyone that registration for the 2018 Child Support Enforcement: Representing Respondents seminar is open until Monday, Feb. 19.  The seminar itself will take place on March 1 from 8:45 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. and it will offer 6 hours of CLE credit, including one hour of ethics/responsibility.  For registration, directions, and other details, please visit here.

New Resource

The National Consortium for Justice Information and Statistics released a report earlier this week providing details from its survey of state criminal history information systems.  The survey was conducted by administrators of the state criminal history record repositories and offers information on topics ranging from noncriminal justice background checks to state criminal history files and accessibility to records and services through state repositories.  The report can be viewed here.

That is all for this week.  We will be updating our channels with new podcasts and other information & if you are interested in participating in a podcast or submitting a guest blog, please contact us to let us know.  We will also be providing more news regarding Raise the Age and other initiatives over time, so please be sure to keep up with us on all of our channels.

From a Non-Lawyer Perspective: 2017 Juvenile Defender Conference Review by Marcus Thompson

On Friday, Aug. 11, juvenile defenders from across N.C. united at the U.N.C. School of Government for the 2017 Juvenile Defender Conference — and I had the honor of being among the 50+ attendees!  Only approaching my first full year as a part of the Juvenile Defender family, I was pretty excited to be able to attend this annual conference and observe juvenile defenders from various districts interact and share ideas and experiences from their time in juvenile court.  In my short time with the Office of the Juvenile Defender, I have  had the opportunity to learn about case law, the “lawyer lingo”, and other things, but this training was a great experience to not only refresh my memory of materials I’ve encountered before, but to also gain further insight into the juvenile justice system.

Program Attorney Austine Long started the event, welcoming everyone and encouraging defenders to offer suggestions for future training courses before introducing Martin Moore, assistant public defender of Buncombe County.

Moore discussed detention hearings, going over the types and culture of detention, secure custody and strategies for preparing for hearings.  Moore acknowledged that some areas of the state do not always follow their own guidelines for detention hearings.  “No one is in a better position to help the juvenile than themselves,” Moore said, emphasizing to attendees the importance of listening to the client and knowing as much as possible about their history, mental health state, and relationships when preparing for hearings.  When he posed a question to the audience about juveniles being placed in adult facilities for pre-adjudication secure custody (which violates G.S. 7B-1905), some defenders stated that this is often a result of juveniles having lied about their age, which initially surprised me.  I would have assumed in some cases it may have been the error of the police.  One participant also stated that juvenile defenders should ensure that juveniles’ info is redacted if they are placed in an adult facility for any reason.  On the topic of shackling during secure custody hearings, Moore also stated that it was “generally something we should argue against” and others concurred, pointing out the most effective argument with judges was that shackling a child would require more paperwork.  Towards the end of his presentation, Moore gave attendees a couple of hypothetical scenarios and allowed them to role play to demonstrate how they argue on behalf of a client in a detention hearing.

Following Moore, Mary Stansell, assistant public defender of Wake County, and Assistant Juvenile Defender Kim Howes presented on motions to suppress.  The pair addressed In re Gault, what qualifies as custodial interrogation, children’s understanding of their rights, and violations of 4th amendment rights.  Stansell and Howes stressed that a statement can’t be used against a child in custody unless a parent is there, but children believe that the “right to remain silent” means “until a cop asks a question”, most likely due to being naturally submissive to adults and intimidated by authority figures.  The cases of Saldierna and J.D.B. were also addressed while discussing juveniles’ voluntary waiver of rights.  Identification of juveniles in court and search and seizure were also brought up before attendees were broken out into groups to work on a case study.

After lunch was provided, Terri Johnson, an attorney from Statesville, took the lead to discuss capacity, covering statutes, cases, and how to handle evaluations and issues.  Johnson emphasized looking for indicators of capacity such as age, nature and location of the offense, language barriers and a history of social, mental, or physical health issues.  She also talked about finding experts to evaluate a client’s capacity to proceed in court and common arguments made by assistant district attorneys and juvenile court counselors.  One common argument was that juveniles were manipulative and would lie simply to avoid getting into trouble.  Johnson also said that sometimes judges will commit juveniles due to lack of options or because they believe that just putting juveniles on probation will get them the mental health treatment that they need.  Having no interactions with the legal system in my teenage years beyond a couple of traffic violations, it was kind of disheartening to hear that this was the way people, especially kids with various problems, were perceived and treated in the courts.

Once Johnson finished her segment, LaToya Powell, assistant professor of public law and government for the U.N.C. School of Government, arrived to discuss updates to juvenile law in the past year.   I was very familiar with all of the cases that Powell discussed, having read her opinions and writing case summaries for our office, but the review of these cases was welcomed.  Powell succinctly summarized many of the most impactful cases, including Saldierna, T.K.D.E.P.  and the recent Raise the Age legislation.  While addressing Saldierna, Powell stated that a juvenile cannot waive the right to have a parent or attorney present during questioning due to special protections provided under General Statute 7B-2101.  After reviewing the whole series of decisions from SaldiernaPowell also noted that as of Aug. 3rd, the State had filed a motion for temporary stay on the case.  Once she summarized some of the other recent appellate court decisions, Powell went on to discuss the Juvenile Justice Reinvestment Act, pointing out the benefits to everyone involved in the juvenile justice system, but also addressing some potential issues with the new laws, such as conflicting terms in the new gang suppression section with current criminal gang suppression rules.

Finally, James Drennan, adjunct and former Albert Coates professor for the U.N.C. School of Government, took the podium to lead the ethics portion of the training.  This part of the training was more like the psychology/philosophy class I wish I had during my college years and was applicable not only to juvenile defense, but all professions.  Drennan discussed implicit biases, which he said exists “in all of us.  No one is immune to it.”

“There is an elemental, primal need to feel like you are being treated fairly,” Drennan said after showing a video of two monkeys being rewarded, one with grapes and the other with cucumbers (resulting in its frustration) for performing the same task.  He shared statistics and reports that showed fairness is what is most desired in our court system by people, but more people from various backgrounds perceive the justice system as unfair to minorities.

Drennan also engaged attendees in several exercises to test their perception, demonstrating our fast-thinking and slow-thinking processes and how our intuitive feelings and programming from a young age affects our judgment.   Drennan spoke about how his own southern upbringing taught him to accept racial disparities as a norm and certain behaviors were maligned by the society he grew up in, and despite his life experiences, these ideas instilled in him from his youth still linger, unable to be unlearned.  He also said that controlling our fast-thinking processes when interacting with new groups or individuals and observing the patterns in our decision-making processes are important to help us to avoid our own prejudices.

Every presentation was engaging and surprisingly easy to follow, even for someone like myself, without a background in law.  While I’ve only observed a few juvenile court cases, it was good to know how other defenders prepare to present their juveniles’ cases and what must be considered prior to going in front of the judge.  It also provided clarity for me about the challenges from all sides that juvenile defenders must deal with inside and outside the courtroom.  It was also great being able to put more faces to the names I’ve seen in the past few months.  After this first year, I look forward to the 2018 Juvenile Defender Conference, and I hope to hear from and see more of the front line defenders.

If you missed the conference or would just like to review the presentations, you can find a copy of the course materials with additional references here.