Week in Review: Apr 12-16

Welcome to the Weekend Readers! This week OJD was busy with meetings and discussions while also planning some new material to share with you all. We’d love to hear some of your thoughts, needs and wants to better assist you in your day to day work in Juvenile Justice. No idea is a bad one and you can contact anyone in the office!

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 OJD!

With the completion of our OJJDP Grant that wrapped up March 31, 2021, OJD was able to produce multiple CLE trainings for our Defenders (while covering attendance costs), have a brand new website (coming soon), and created SEVEN Quick Guides for readily accessible facts & tips while in court (which were either hand delivered or mailed throughout the year). All of this would not have been possible without our AWESOME Project Attorney Austine Long. Austine has worked extremely hard to reshape how our grant would succeed during the unexpected change of pace when the office and our plans to travel, shut down due to Covid. She revamped our CLE curriculum and never stopped making sure we hit the mark. So thank you Austine, for everything you did and do for OJD!

Raise the MINIMUM Age

On March 25, 2021, the N.C. Senate passed a bill to raise the minimum age a youth can be petitioned for a crime. The age increase would move from the lowest in the United States at 6 years of age, to 10. One of the main highlights of Senate Bill 207 is that it sets up a child consultation process which would enforce that these youth that are referred to the justice system and are under 10 will need to meet with a court counselor to assess the appropriate resources that can assist with keeping the youth out of the court process. This aim is to ensure that the mental capacity of youth and the desire to keep children out of the system and help discover latent issues. Now that the Senate has passed the legislation, it is on it’s way to the House for further consideration before going to the Governor’s hands. If the bill is passed, it will go into effect on Dec. 1. What are your thoughts on this newly introduced / pending Bill?

JLWOP

Josh Rovner has written a great piece via the Sentencing Project regarding Juvenile LWOP. This brief report is filled with statistics, landmark cases and thoughts surrounding the end of JLWOP in the United States. To read this brief and learn more about the JLWOP reform requests, please click here.

Week in Review: Apr 5-9

Happy Friday Readers! First week of April down and it’s getting warmer outside. Not to mention, time for pollen. We hope you’re stocked up on allergy cures for Spring. Well, it’s time for another Week in Review, let’s get started!

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.

Child Abuse Prevention Month

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month and as juvenile defenders, it is important to note, understand and work with others to provide safety to the most vulnerable. For more information on training, initiatives, partnerships and tools, please visit OJJDP’s dedicated page to this cause.

Webinar!

In honor of Second Chance Month this April, NACDL will host “Race + Criminal Legal System: Collateral Consequences,” a program aimed at unpacking the racially disparate and often-permanent consequences associated with criminal convictions. Tune in Tuesday, April 13th, at 4pm ET (1pm PT) with moderator, Cynthia Roseberry, Deputy Director for the National Policy Advocacy Department for the ACLU, and panelists Rob DeLeon, Vice President of Programs for The Fortune Society, David Singleton, Executive Director for the Ohio Justice & Policy Center, and Quintin WilliamsPanelists will discuss the long-term impacts of criminal convictions, the specific harm that collateral consequences have caused to communities of color, and what it will take to meaningfully change this system. There will be time for audience questions at the end of the program.

North Carolina Juvenile Sentence Review Board

Yesterday, Governor Roy Cooper announced the formation of the North Carolina Juvenile Sentence Review Board (“Review Board”). It is a four-person advisory board, established by Executive Order 208, that will review some sentences imposed in NC on youth who were tried and sentenced in adult criminal court for acts committed before turning 18. The Review Board will make recommendations to the Governor concerning clemency and commutation of such sentences when appropriate. This is big news for youth offenders who are now adults and a start to changing the course of juvenile justice in NC. To read more about this announcement click here.

From LaTobia,

I am seeking guest writers for our blog for each month this year, specifically those in juvenile defense or youth advocacy work. Topics will be of your choice, but should include some supporting information such as statutes, cases or graphics. These blogs are geared to help fellow attorneys and create discussion in regards to juvenile proceedings and court processes. Feel free to send me an email at latobia.s.avent@nccourts.org so we can discuss this further or if you’d like to volunteer. Also, feel free to send this message to your colleagues and friends, whoever may be a great contributor. Thanks!

THAT’S ALL FOR NOW! HAVE A GREAT WEEKEND!

Week in Review: March 15-19

Happy Friday Readers! Short and sweet Week in Review for you today. We’re at the middle of the month and who doesn’t love getting to the weekend faster?

Tip of the Week

Transcript of Admission

Filling out a transcript of admission on any admission of a new offense is important for several reasons.  It memorializes the record of admission in writing if subject to an appeal.  Reviewing the transcript with your client helps your client better understand the admission and the rights s/he is asserting or waiving.  Make sure you complete the transcript with your client present and do so in a confidential space. Consider making a copy of the transcript to keep at the attorney table to help your client answer questions.  Stand with your client when the court asks your client the listed questions and be prepared to confer with your client if any issues arise.

PAC Fee App & New Juvenile Rates

The Office of the Juvenile Defender has been notified of an increasing number of errors on fee applications for delinquency matters.  In order that all fee applications can be processed, and payments issued in a timely manner, please read the following MEMO & view the Juvenile Rates Chart.

March CLE!

Have you registered for our Challenging North Carolina’s Automatic Transfer Laws, presented by David Andrews? Join us March 24, 2021 from 4:00-5:00 PM. This CLE will be 1 hour long, with CLE currently pending. Please remember this CLE is DEFENDER ONLY.

This presentation will provide juvenile defense attorneys with an understanding of North Carolina statutory provisions for the automatic transfer of children from juvenile court to adult criminal court.  The presentation will also discuss strategies and arguments that juvenile defense attorneys can use to challenge automatic transfer laws, including provisions in the United States and North Carolina constitutions covering due process, cruel and unusual punishment, equal protection, and the right to counsel.

To register, please click here.

Week in Review: Feb 8-12

Happy Friday Readers! We hope your week was productive with plenty of moments to catch your breath too. Couple of announcements for you this week, along with a new (and free) OJD CLE!

Tip of the Week!

Where Can I Find the Law on RTA?

If you want to see the Session Laws which include the Raise the Age changes, see:

Senate Bill 413: 2019 Session Amendments to the RTA Bill (Juvenile Justice Reinvestment Act)

Senate Bill 257: The final bill budget for Session Law 2017; info pertaining to the Juvenile Justice Reinvestment Act can be found on pages 309-325

You can also check out the NC General Assembly website.  Look under “Bills and Laws,” then “General Statutes.”  You can search by citation or test, or you can look at Chapter 7B under the Table of Contents, and see the most recent changes to statute text on the right side of the statute.

FROM IDS

The Commission on Indigent Defense Services recently approved a modest, but much-needed, partial restoration of rates paid to private counsel providing representation in some case types. Specifically, the Commission voted to raise by $5 an hour the rate for high-level felonies, with a corresponding increase in non-hourly representation for adult criminal and juvenile delinquency proceedings. The Commission also voted to raise by $5 an hour the rate for DWI and Class A1 misdemeanors disposed of in the district court, with a corresponding increase in non-hourly representation. The increases approved by the Commission will take effect on March 1, 2021. Please click here to read the notice from Darrin Jordan, the Commission Chair, and IDS Executive Director, Mary Pollard. Also, if you have any questions, please reach out to Whitney Fairbanks via email.

Have you seen our #BlackHistoryMonth Spotlights?

Lyana Hunter (left) & Staisha Hamilton (right)

This week we showcased two amazing women and their work within the juvenile defense community. First up was Lyana Hunter and then Staisha Hamilton. To catch up on their spotlights, click here for Lyana and click here for Staisha!

OJD CLE OPPORTUNITY!

Wednesday, February 24, 2021 at 2:30 PM, OJD is hosting “Representing LGBT Youth”. This CLE will be presented by Ames Simmons, the Policy Director for Equality NC. This program will be a 90 minute CLE, with application pending and FREE TO THE FIRST 35 REGISTRANTS. This webinar includes a general review of introductory concepts and terminology related to LGBTQ identities, including the importance of pronouns to professionalism. We will discuss gender-expansive youth and the processes of gender transition for young people. We will talk about LGBTQ youth in out-of-home custody and present best practices for advocating for LGBTQ young people in the juvenile legal system. CLICK HERE TO REGISTER.

THATS ALL FOR THIS WEEK! HAVE A GREAT WEEKEND!

Week in Review: Feb 1-5

Happy Friday Readers! February is the shortest month in our calendar but what some like to call, “the real start to the new year, January is a test run.” February also brings Black History Month and we have some great shares coming your way this month, so keep an eye out on our socials!

ANNOUCEMENT

In a a week or two, OJD will be undergoing a bit of a makeover. Our website is getting a whole new look and feel to better fit the needs of a growing and changing audience. Please bear with us during that time and if you need anything, feel free to email or call and we will make sure you get your motions, forms, and tips. Thanks!

Tip of the Week

Transcript of Admission Tips 

Filling out a transcript of admission on any admission of a new offense is important for several reasons.  It memorializes the record of admission in writing if subject to an appeal.  Reviewing the transcript with your client helps your client better understand the admission and the rights s/he is asserting or waiving.  Make sure you complete the transcript with your client present and do so in a confidential space. Consider making a copy of the transcript to keep at the attorney table to help your client answer questions.  Stand with your client when the court asks your client the listed questions and be prepared to confer with your client if any issues arise.

Resources

Don’t forget about our guest blogs that have been posted recently. They contain some very important information alongside some extra tips to make our Defenders even better than they already are!

The Kitchen Sink: Written by David Andrews on challenging automatic transfers.

Yasi: Written by Kim Howes and discusses the new Youth Assessment tool and issues to be aware of.

Black History Month – Did You Know?

Juvenile girls, ages 14-17 held in detention. Source: Biography.com

As Defenders and Juvenile Justice advocates, we know that the voice of children can challenge and change the way we think and increase our desire to make the world a better place for them. This is not a new way of thinking and is evident throughout history and here is just one of many stories below:

On May 2, 1963 in Birmingham, Alabama is known as the Children’s Crusade or most notably called, “The Birmingham’s Children’s Crusade.” This was a series of non-violent demonstrations held by children aging from 5-17 and a result of the incarceration of Martin Luther King, Jr and his “Letter’s from a Birmingham Jail” among others detained during civil rights movements in Alabama. The Southern Christian Leadership Conference and Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights believed that if officers saw young children present, and trained them in non-violent tactics, but that was not the case. 100s of young children were arrested and detained and on the second day, the Commissioner of Public Safety ordered pepper spray to be used on the children, also hitting them with batons and threatening them with police dogs. Under the threat of harm, these children continued to protest the business segregation in Birmingham and lack of civil human rights they were receiving. By May 10, after national visibility and frustration, Birmingham city leaders agreed to desegregate businesses and free all the jailed children and adults from the demonstrations. In response to the Children’s Crusade, Dr. King said. “Even though we realized that involving teenagers and high-school students would bring down upon us a heavy fire of criticism, we felt that we needed this dramatic new dimension…Our fight, if won, would benefit people of all ages. But most of all we were inspired with a desire to give to our young a true sense of their own stake in freedom and justice. We believed they would have the courage to respond to our call.”

To read more about this historic event, please click here.

THANKS FOR READING!

HAVE A GREAT, SAFE, FUN, AND COZY WEEKEND!

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: 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.

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!