OJD Week In Review: Nov. 13-17

This week we would like to bring attention to a few training opportunities and at least one new job opportunity.

Good Ol’ Education

yoda trainingThe Office of the Juvenile Defender and North Carolina Advocates for Justice will be hosting a free juvenile defense CLE in Courtroom 1 of the Wayne County Courthouse on 224 E. Walnut St. in Goldsboro, N.C. on Thursday, Dec. 14.  The training, titled “Juvenile Defense – Effective Representation Now and For the Future”, will be held from 1-4 p.m. and a networking lunch will be provided from 12-1.  Presenters will include IDS Regional Defender Valerie Pearce, Assistant Juvenile Defender Kim Howes, and Juvenile Defender Eric Zogry.  Topics discussed will include detention advocacy, the role of counsel and dispositional advocacy and tips and expected practice changes following the implementation of Raise the Age.  Please RSVP with Valerie Pearce by email or call 919-667-3369.

 

The National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ) has released a bulletin on trauma-informed classrooms, which examines how trauma on students and adverse life experiences can impact their behavior in the classroom and offers strategies for creating trauma-informed classrooms.  In addition to this, NCJFCJ will also be hosting a free 90-minute webinar titled “Trauma-Informed Classrooms: Moving Theory into Practice” on Dec. 6, starting at noon.  The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention also has a webpage dedicated to raising awareness on trauma’s impact on children exposed to violence, which can be found here.

The Council of State Governments Justice Center will also be leading a webinar on Tuesday, Nov. 28, from 2-3 p.m. titled “Collateral Consequences of Juvenile Adjudication – How Juvenile Records Can Affect Youth Even After the Case is Over.”  To register and find more info on this please check here.

Your Future Job (?)

The Council of State Governments Justice Center has an opening for a project manager in juvenile justice.  This is a regular full-time position located in either New York, N.Y. or Bethesda, MD.  For the full details and to apply for these positions (and others), please visit their website here.

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That is all for this week, but we would still like to remind the N.C. juvenile defense community to feel free to reach out to us with any questions, comments, or concerns.  Also, feel free to contribute your voice to our blog or podcast.  New points of view are always welcome!  In the meantime, have a great weekend and be assured there will be more to come soon!

OJD Week In Review: Oct. 23-27

ICYMI

Last weekend, from Oct. 20-22, the National Juvenile Defender Center held its 21st Annual Juvenile Defender Leadership Summit in Albuquerque, NM.

During this year’s Summit, topics included challenging the use of electronic monitoring in juvenile court, the impact of social media, acquiring discovery, unfair fines and fees imposed on youth and their families, expunction, and education advocacy.  N.C. Juvenile Defender Eric Zogry also joined a panel alongside Joshua Dohan, director of the Youth Advocacy Division of the Committee for Public Counsel Services in Massachusetts, and Devon Lee, legal counsel for the Office of the State Public Defender in Wisconsin, to discuss the challenges and successes of juvenile defense systems in different states.

Other faculty attending the conference included Teayra Turner, project associate at the National Juvenile Defender Center, Richard Ross, a photographer, researcher and Distinguished Professor of Art at the University of CaliforniaRandee Waldman, director of the Barton Juvenile Defender Clinic at Emory University School of Law, and Justice Barbara Vigil of the New Mexico Supreme Court, among many others.  Please find the full list of materials, publications, and other resources from the event here.

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Useful Tidbits

The Bureau of Justice Statistics has released a new special report on “Federal Prosecution of Commercial Exploitation of Children.”  This report examines cases prosecuted in the federal criminal court system between 2004 to 2013 and includes offenses related to the possession and production of child pornography and child sex trafficking.

The National Juvenile Justice Network has released a new policy platform which provides recommendations on improving relationships between law enforcement and youth of color.  The recommendations in this document include ending the militarization of law enforcement, racial profiling, and policies on use of force.  The full article can be found here.

SYJ

Strategies for Youth (SFY) has provided two new resources in its October newsletter.  The first of these resources, “The Parent Checklist“, is a tool that has been updated to address how school resource officers (SRO) are trained to handle and informed of the conditions of students with special needs and children with immigrant status.  The checklist also has sections to evaluate how parents are notified of complaints against their child, how resource officers are trained, the working agreements between law enforcement and schools, and SROs’ relationships with school faculty.  The second resource, “Be Her Resource“, is actually only referenced by SFY, but created by the National Black Women’s Justice Institute and the Georgetown Center on Poverty and Inequality.  “Be Her Resource” offers insights into the disproportionate contact between for girls of color and law enforcement in schools.

Last Chances and New Opps

We also want to offer one final reminder that applications for the NJDC Gault Fellowship are due on Monday, Oct. 30.  Tell any recent law school graduates you know to hurry and get those references, resumes, and cover letters polished!  The full details for how to apply can be found here.

NJDC has also distributed info for an opening for a full-time training chief with the Massachusetts-based Committee for Public Counsel and an opening for an assistant public defender for juvenile delinquency in the Maryland Office of the Public Defender.  The deadline for applications are Nov. 6 and Nov. 13, respectively.

Those are all of the updates we have for now, but we will be providing more news and activities on next week.  Have a great weekend!

OJD Week In Review: September 18-22

To reduce the number of notifications hitting the inboxes of our subscribers, our office will be posting these weekly summaries of our activities and updates.  We hope that this new trend will be more convenient for everyone going forward!  This week we participated in a webinar, Professor LaToya Powell published a new entry about restitution in the On the Civil Side blog, and we’ve added a new page to our site!  Read on for more details.

Access-Denied-Cover

On Tuesday, N.C. Juvenile Defender Eric Zogry joined  Kirstin Cornnell, director of operations at the Delaware Center for Justice, and Christina Gilbert, senior staff attorney and policy counsel at the National Juvenile Defender Center, for the National Juvenile Justice Network’s Access to Counsel webinar.  During the one-hour webinar, the three presenters each spoke briefly about children’s rights to counsel and discussed efforts in the country to improve the juvenile justice system where needed.

On Wednesday, Professor LaToya Powell published a new entry on the UNC School of Government’s On the Civil Side blog, titled “Ordering Restitution In A Juvenile Delinquency Case”.  In her new post, Powell explains the requirements for a juvenile disposition order to require the payment of restitution.  You can read her full blog post here.

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Our office has also updated the site to include a new “Reports/References” page.  On this new page, we will be compiling statistical data/ reports and other reference materials for defenders, including the N.C. Department of Public Safety’s 2016 Juvenile Justice Annual Report.  This report touches briefly on Raise the Age, shares statistics on youth committed to youth development centers versus detention facilities, common mental health issues faced by juveniles, and the ratios of youth in the system based on gender, age, and ethnicity, among other things.  You can find the newest page located under the “Materials for Defenders” tab on the main page of this site.

And… that is the wrap-up for this week!  If you have any suggestions or questions about what we may have mentioned above or may not have mentioned, please contact us and let us know!

“Ordering Restitution In A Juvenile Delinquency Case” by Professor LaToya Powell

From the On the Civil Side blog, Professor LaToya Powell has added a new entry titled “Ordering Restitution In A Juvenile Delinquency Case”.  In her newest post, Professor Powell explains the requirements for a juvenile to pay restitution to a victim.  You can find the full article here.

“Extended YDC Commitments and the 30-Day Notice Requirement” by Professor LaToya Powell

From the “On the Civil Side” blog, please take a moment to review Professor LaToya Powell’s latest post regarding how to determine a juvenile’s maximum commitment period to a youth development center and the requirements for extending the commitment beyond the designated period.  In her post, Powell explains the limitations for maximum sentencing, based on age and the level of the offense, and what conditions must be fulfilled to qualify a 30-day notice to extend a commitment to a YDC.  Please find the full article here.

“The Improper Use of Electronic Monitors in Juvenile Court” by Guest Blogger Mitchell Feld

Mitch

You meet your new client for the first time for the first detention hearing as the child was detained on a low-level felony or misdemeanor.  The recommendation is for the child to be released on an electronic monitor.  Your client hears that and says that he/she is willing to get out of detention on an “ankle bracelet.”  The short-term victory is your client is happy because he/she got released and you look like the great lawyer who walked into court and got your client released.  However, did you truly do a service to your client and other children in juvenile court?

We have all been in the situation described above and accept the offered release conditions because it satisfies the wishes of your client.  However, how often do we ask if electronic monitoring is appropriate while still arguing for our client’s expressed interest to be released?  Electronic monitoring is a common release condition for adult court and by accepting it as a release condition for children in juvenile court in all situations mares the difference between juvenile and adult court.  What is amazing about the utilization of electronic monitoring in juvenile court is when it is used when it is not necessary and when it is not used when it is necessary.  There are a few situations that truly highlight these two types of scenarios and the rationale behind its appropriateness or lack thereof.

My office has had numerous children who are detained on misdemeanors or low-level felonies, they comply with curfew and rules put in place by the parent/guardian, they attend school daily, and they have a social history that is absent any red flags.  Court counselors frequently ask for a child to be released on electronic monitoring due to the serious nature of a child having a felony charge.  While one can appreciate that a felony is a serious offense, we must inquire about the virtue of an electronic monitor and whether this child is truly a danger to property or persons as is one of the criteria under N.C.G.S 7B-1903(b)(1).  Merely being charged with a felony does not mean a child is a danger to property or persons and making an argument against continued detention or release on electronic monitoring is a necessary argument.  Children that are charged with possession of drugs that rise to a low-level felony, possession of stolen goods merely because the child was given property from a B&E, or assault-based offenses are not necessarily appropriate for a monitor due to the lack of correlation between the charge and the need for 24/7 supervision.  Possession of a drug or property, while serious and concerning, does not mean that the person needs to be supervised at all times without other factors present.  If someone is charged with assault (either physical or sexual), an electronic monitor serves no purpose to prevent a future attack.  All a monitor would do in an assault situation is provide confirmation that a person was present should another attack occur, but would not actually prevent an attack.  While these situations can be concerning to a victim, judge, or prosecutor, we still need to balance the purpose of a monitor with the juvenile court-to-prison pipeline that is created by imposing adult court conditions on children.

While those situations are ones that are self-explanatory for when a monitor is not necessary, there are also situations when a monitor is refused when it can be appropriate for a child to be released.  My favorite situation that arises in court is when a court counselor said that child was denied for electronic monitoring because he/she has an AWOL history.  At that point I want to turn to the court counselor and do my best Biff impression from Back to the Future and say, “Hello, McFly!  Think, McFly, think!”  I have made the argument to judges that if a monitor is only used for children who comply with a curfew and we know where they are at all times, then what is the purpose of the monitor?  If children have a history of going AWOL, not following a curfew, or leaving school without permission, then a monitor can serve a purpose to ensure the child thinks twice before making that negative decision knowing big brother is watching at all times.  No one wants to see a child with an electronic device strapped to his/her ankle at all times, but if it serves as a behavior modification technique, causes the child to think twice about a decision, and stops the prior behaviors that led them to juvenile court, then the use of the device is appropriate.

There is also the situation when court stakeholders believe that because your client committed one breaking and entering, he/she committed all of them.  I have had numerous clients that, to their credit and honesty, will gladly tell you which crimes they committed and which ones they did not.  The monitor has been useful to show a judge and prosecutor that just because there was enough evidence for one case, does not justify bringing charges for another because the child’s monitor did not show his/her presence at the scene of another crime.  As stated above, I do not like to see a child on a monitor but there are times when its presence can be utilized to demonstrate your client’s innocence.

While juvenile court has been around for a number of years, in light of where it has come in the past 50 years since In re Gault, there are still a number of practices that are not juvenile court practices, but rather applied adult court practices.  While it is easy to accept those practices as that may be all we have, we must be diligent to challenge their utilization and appropriateness when they are not right for children.  When you believe you have nothing else to argue, it is easy to go back to N.C.G.S. 7B-1500 and argue that rehabilitation and constitutional rights for children are always at the heart of what juvenile court is about.  Children may be focused on the short-term win, but we need to be thinking about the long-term effects.  The arguments we make today will become best practices in the years to come.

Mitchell Feld is the Director of Children’s Defense at the Council for Children’s Rights representing children in delinquency and mental health commitment matters.  Mr. Feld obtained his undergraduate degree from Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania in 2005 and his J.D. degree from the University of Miami School of Law in 2008.  Mr. Feld is a member of the North Carolina Bar and the Western District of North Carolina.  He has served as the Chair and Vice Chair of the Juvenile Law Section of the Mecklenburg County Bar and currently serves on the Mecklenburg County Bar Grievance Committee.  Mr. Feld has lectured at the local, state, and national level on juvenile case law, interviewing children, sex offenses and registration, motions practice, and delinquency advocacy.

Case Summaries Update: In re D.E.P.

Please see the latest update to our “Case Summaries” list on the “Materials for Defenders” page.  The latest entry to the list, located in the”Dispositions: Appeals” and “Dispositions: Sentencing” sections, is the published opinion In re D.E.P. which established that:

The trial court is not required by G.S. 7B-2512 to make findings of fact that address each of the G.S. 7B-2501(c) factors and did not abuse its discretion in ordering a Level 3 commitment based on the juvenile’s repeated violations of probation.