Week in Review: May 3-7

Happy Friday Readers! We hope wherever you are is bright and sunny because Raleigh and rainy and gloomy but #JuvenileJustice never stops. As always, we’re bringing you a great tip and a couple resources, along with a #OJDFlashback.

Tip of the Week – Building Trust

Investing time is the single most important strategy for building trust and rapport with your client.  You need to listen and ask questions without judgment, and explain why you need to ask certain questions.  Allow your client the opportunity, and encourage him/her to ask questions as well.  Be sure to explain to your client how your role is different from other adults s/he has interacted with (i.e. attorney/client privilege).  And most importantly – never make a promise you can’t keep.  If you say you’re going to do something – do it!

Resources!

State Bar Journal

Have you caught up on the latest version of the State Bar Journal? Well fear not! We have the link right here for you. There’s so many great reads inside, along with some tips as well!

NJDC – Ensuring Access

The National Juvenile Defender Center has a toolkit for defenders who are looking for ways to find or create support in the law for juveniles. It works to ensure access to counsel and ways to address policy makers backed with research for the improvement of juvenile justice in your state. Want to read more, click here.

#OJDFLASHBACKFRIDAY

April 26, 2019, (OJD) partnered with the National Juvenile Defender Center (NJDC) to teach 10 of our juvenile defense attorneys NJDC’s Juvenile Training Immersion Program (JTIP) and through the three-day training program, NJDC provided 3 trainers who worked to train the defenders in different activities and topics. This training created superstar trainers out of our defenders and they have since gone on to present for OJD as well as the School of Government. If you look closely, you’ll see two of our OJD staff!

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 22-26

Another Friday in the books and the last one of March! So let’s jump into our Week in Review.

TIP OF THE WEEK!

If you have a client being held on a secure custody order – remember it’s the STATE’s burden to prove to the court, by clear and convincing evidence, that the juvenile should remain in custody AND no less intrusive alternative will suffice (§7B-1906(d)).  That means it’s not the court counselor’s role!  Ask the court for less restrictive means, for example electronic monitoring or house arrest.  If the court finds that your client should remain in custody, the court is bound by the criteria in §7B-1903 and must make written findings of fact.

Thank you to David Andrews!

OJD would like to thank David Andrews for his presentation Wednesday afternoon on Challenging North Carolina’s Automatic Transfer Laws. The information he shared was not only helpful to our defenders, but sparked questions but also how to overcome challenges our defenders see daily. This was a highly participated CLE and we also can’t thank the attendees enough for making this a great training!

Something exciting is coming!

Not only is NCJUVENILEDEFENDER.COM getting a facelift, we’re also bringing you some new content. We’re now in the process of recording a few videos, containing information on juvenile issues, specialization, and all kinds of helpful nuggets that we know our defenders would like. Interested in filming one? Contact LaTobia.

With the new website, you will have to re-subscribe to our blog (and something special) so stay tuned for more information and our launch! Thanks for all that you do and helping us make this possible!

Community Events

On April 1 at 1:00pm ET, NACDL’s Fourth Amendment Center is presenting a free, CLE webinar titled, “Racist by Design: How Systemic Racism and Inherent Biases Manifest in Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and Beyond”. This program will feature Rashida Richardson, Visiting Scholar at Rutgers Law School and Rutgers Institute for Information Policy and Law, Cathy O’Neil, author, mathematician, and founder of ORCAA, an algorithmic auditing company, and Cierra Robson, a doctoral student in the Sociology and Social Policy program at Harvard University and the Inaugural Associate Director of the Ida B. Wells JUST Data Lab at Princeton University. To register for this CLE and receive credit, please click here.

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 Williams. Panelists 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.

From a Lawyer’s View: Youthful Offenders – What to Do When Clients Want to Be Transferred

Who are youthful offenders?

In the jurisdiction where I practice, we refer to 16-17 year-old clients who are subject to potential mandatory transfer to superior court as youthful offenders. This age group has its own special needs and challenges. One challenge is when your client either refuses an offer that will allow him/her to stay in juvenile court and/or requests transfer to superior court.

We know from science that adolescent brains are not fully developed until approximately between the ages of 21-25. We know that these differences in brain development have practical implications which impact their ability to plan ahead and think in hypothetical terms. We also know that they exhibit a greater degree of risk taking and more easily succumb to peer pressure. All of these factors (and more) influence their ability to make decisions and affect a teen’s ability to exhibit self-control. Additionally, they tend to be less sensitive to negative consequences. All of these factors (and more) played a role in North Carolina finally implementing the Juvenile Justice Reinvestment Act (also known as Raise the Age) to include youth under 18 under juvenile court jurisdiction for many offenses.

N.C.G.S. §7B-2200.5 requires a youth who is charged with an A-G felony offense to be transferred to superior court for trial as an adult after a finding of probable cause or indictment. So how does this impact your representation of a 16 or 17 year old client who tells you s/he wants to be transferred to superior court or refuses to admit to an offer that will allow him/her to remain in juvenile court?

What Is Our Role?

The first, and most important, thing to remember is that as defenders our role is NOT to advocate for the best interest of our client. We are express interest advocates and represent our juvenile clients with the same zealous advocacy that we do for our adult clients – even if we disagree with the decision s/he is making once we’ve counseled him/her regarding the benefits and risks of any decision. This means we must give our clients all the information they need, in language they can understand (i.e. age appropriate) to allow them to make their own decision. There is nothing wrong with challenging their thought process or asking someone they respect to have a conversation with them about the risk of transfer.

Assuming you have exhausted all your options in advising your client, and despite all your good legal advice your client insists on moving forward, what do you do? I would suggest the following:

  1. Get a second opinion – talk to a local attorney who you trust or contact our office to get advice on other ways to advise your client.
  2. Review with your client the possible collateral consequences of a transfer to superior court. OJD has a form that lists possible risks/consequences of transfer that requires your client to acknowledge that s/he has been informed and is choosing to transfer against advice of counsel. You can access the form here.
  3. Put it on the record. Make the court aware of your client’s decision, but do it in a professional manner that doesn’t negatively impact the court’s view of your client.

Lastly,

4. Respect your client’s decision. You may disagree, but it’s important to respect your client’s agency in making a decision that s/he will have to live with.

Written by Kim Howes, Assistant Juvenile Defender for The Office of the Juvenile Defender. Kim Howes has extensive juvenile court knowledge and directly represents juveniles for OJD while also supporting the middle districts of North Carolina, including Wake & Durham counties.

Week in Review: Feb 22-26

Happy Friday Readers! We’ve conquered the last week of February and ready to start new challenges on Monday, March 1, right? Right! A Monday and first of the month? Please! Just a little humor to get us going but as always, here’s to your week in review.

Tip of the Week – Discovery

The Juvenile Code has similar discovery rules to those followed in adult criminal court.  Though Juvenile Court is in District Court, most jurisdictions understand that discovery transfer is a practice for both misdemeanors and felonies in Juvenile Court.  Even if there’s an “automatic discovery” rule in your jurisdiction, you should always file a motion  to receive discovery.  Note that the state may also file a reciprocal motion, which may impact your decision on presenting expert opinion testimony or reports.

Have you seen our FINAL #BlackHistoryMonth Spotlights?

Charlotte Dover (Left) & Aleta Ballard (Right)

This week we showcased two great attorneys and their work within the juvenile defense community. First up was Charlotte Dover on Tuesday and Aleta Ballard on Thursday via our Twitter and FaceBook pages. To catch up on their spotlights: You can see Charlotte’s spotlight here & Aleta’s spotlight here. We would like to thank all of our Spotlight Attorney’s for being so willing to participate and show us what #BlackHistoryMonth means to each one of them and the importance of equality in our juvenile justice system. We appreciate you!

And if you haven’t followed us on Twitter & FaceBook yet, click the links to do that too!

LGBTQ CLE: Representing LGBTQ Youth

OJD would like to thank Ames Simmons on his presentation for our Representing Youth CLE held on Wednesday. The class covered topics such as a LGBTQ 101, pronouns, identity, how to support and approach young LGBTQ members who may not know how they identify and how to advocate for them individually.

Eric Zogry for the NC Bar Blog

OJD’s Eric Zogry was a guest blogger for the NC Bar titled, “Reconsidering North Carolina’s Minimum Age of Jurisdiction. He speaks on the need to raise the minimum age of children that can be charged with a crime, citing committees and tasks forces that have worked to recommend what that age should be. To read Eric’s blog, click here.

Happy 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.


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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!

Training Opportunity: DSS 101 for the Juvenile Defender: Handling Dual Jurisdiction Youth on Friday, February 20th from 9:00 to 12:20

Wake County Public Defender’s Office is sponsoring a free CLE for anyone who handles criminal matters for youth who are in DSS custody or involved with CPS investigations.  This can include 16 and 17 year olds in adult court.

The CLE will be held somewhere in downtown Raleigh (still working on place). CLE credit approval is pending. You would have to pay the NC State Bar for the 3 credit hours (current rate is $3.00 per hour) but you do NOT have to pay anything to attend.  I will send more information and sign up forms soon but wanted to get the word out so you can clear your calendar to join us.

Thanks,

Mary Stansell
Juvenile Chief
Wake County Public Defender Office
919-792-5488