OJD Week in Review: Aug. 6 – 10

Welcome back, everyone!  This week there are some great new stories to share from our site and around the Web.

From Around the Community

First, from the On the Civil Side blog, Austine Long discusses youth development centers (YDCs).  In her post, Long emphasizes the use of YDCs and the need for juvenile justice advocates to familiarize themselves with the facilities and requirements of committed youth.  Long also encourages attorneys to attend trainings about YDCs, including the annual Juvenile Defender Conference.  You can check out the full post here.

Dilemma of Duties

Earlier this week, our office had the pleasure of speaking with Dr. Anne Corbin about her book, Dilemma of Duties: The Conflicted Role of Juvenile Defenders.  Through interviews with many juvenile defense attorneys across North Carlina, Corbin examines the role of juvenile defenders and the internal and external pressures experienced by defenders to divert from expressed-interest advocacy to best-interest advocacy.  We recorded the discussion for our next podcast, which we hope to share in the very near future, but in the meantime check out the book for yourselves!

Speaking of books, from the Sentencing Law and Policy blog, author Cara Drinan wrote a four-part series to discuss her book The War on Kids: How American Juvenile Justice Lost Its Way.  In her first post, Drinan addresses the question of how the U.S. became an international outlier in the severity of its juvenile justice practices, touching on the origins of the juvenile court system and drawing the line to the failures of the system today.  Her later posts also cover what the war on kids looks like, three Supreme Court cases that have significantly impacted the juvenile justice system, and post-Miller parole.  Drinan concluded the series of posts earlier this week, so be sure to read all four blog posts and check out the book!  You can read the beginning of her series here.  Shout-out to David Andrews for bringing these blogs to our attention!

Finally, if you haven’t already seen it, please take a moment to read our feature on Cindy Ellis, the new contract juvenile defender of Davie County.  Read the full post here.

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Training

Registration is now open for the 2018 Misdemeanor Defender Training, which will take place at the UNC-Chapel Hill campus from Sept. 18 – 21.  This training, cosponsored by the Office of Indigent Defense Services and the School of Government, will be an introductory program for attorneys who are new to handling misdemeanor cases and will offer 21.5 CLE credit hours, including one hour of ethics/professional responsibility credit and qualifies for criminal law specialization credit.  Attendees can expect sessions that will cover topics such as impaired driving, probation violations, ethical issues in district court, and much more.  The registration deadline will be 5 p.m. on Aug. 30 and the deadline for the hotel block will be Aug. 28.  There will be no onsite registration.  The fee for privately assigned counsel will be $560, but the program will be free for IDS state employees.  There is a new online registration system being used that will require first-time users to create an account, but if any issues should arise, please contact registration@sog.unc.edu/919.966.4414 or check the FAQ page.  For further questions contact either Tanya Jisa or Phil Dixon,Jr.

Save the Date!  The Bridging The Gap III Seminar will be in Winston-Salem September 20-21, 2018.  Participants in this seminar will be awarded 10.25 CLE credit hours, including 1.5 credit hours in ethics, professional responsibility and professionalism.  The registration fee is $115.00.  The focus of this seminar will be on client and family relations, and pretrial resolution.  Registration and hotel information will be published in early July.  A block of 40 rooms will be available once the registration is published.  For an attorney to attend he or she must have at least 7 years’ experience.  The “ gap” in Bridging The Gap describes lawyers who have never taken murder cases and are considering taking them on, and lawyers who have taken non-capital murder cases and are considering taking capital cases.  The seminar, hosted by the Office of the Capital Defender, focuses on issues relevant to both non-capital and capital murder cases.  If you have questions or need additional information, please contact Terry Alford.

Job /Funding Opportunity

The National Juvenile Defender Center (NJDC) is currently seeking a research manager.  The ideal candidate will have at least 5 years of experience, a commitment to advancing improvements in juvenile defense policy and practice, a love of research, writing, and critical thinking, and an eagerness to build a career at the intersection of youth justice and social change.  The selected candidate will be responsible for developing and executing research efforts to advance NJDC’s mission, and strengthening the empirical qualities and evaluating the impact of NJDC’s work on the community.  This position will remain open until filled.  For more information please check here.

The Committee for Public Counsel Services (CPCS) in Massachusetts is currently accepting applications for a Deputy Chief Counsel of the Private Counsel Division, who is a member of the senior management team that develops and implements fiscal, operational, human resource, and legislative policies.  The Private Counsel Division is responsible for delivering legal services to indigent clients through assigned private attorneys in criminal defense trial and post-conviction cases as well as commitment and registration cases for persons convicted of sex offenses.  Applications will be accepted until the position is filled.  For more info please check here.

That sums it up for this week!  The near-future for news in the juvenile defense community is looking good, so check back soon!

OJD Spotlight: Introducing Cindy Ellis

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Today in the OJD Spotlight we have the new juvenile defense contractor of Davie County, Cindy Ellis.

Cindy knew she wanted to be a lawyer even when she was little.  Back then she thought it would be glamorous, but now she says she knows it can be one of the most stressful, yet rewarding career choices.

In law school, she had the wonderful opportunity to be involved in a wrongful convictions clinic.  During that clinic, she and her classmates studied and watched an actual case of innocence unfold and a man released from prison.  It impressed upon her the importance of what lawyers do and how they do it.

Cindy became motivated to join the juvenile defense field after seeing too many children making mistakes that haunted them for years.

“So many studies have shown that our brains are not fully developed until well after the age of 18, yet we punish kids as if they fully understand their actions and the consequences of them,” she said.  “The cycle needs to be broken.  I want to help find ways for kids to make better choices and grow up without the stigma that accompanies a criminal history.”

Her greatest personal success in life is not one particular thing or moment.  Cindy said she is extremely proud of the fact that she has worked full-time since she was old enough to have a job.  Through undergrad and law school, she worked a full-time job.

When asked about her greatest professional success, she said this is also difficult to pinpoint.  “Anytime I have been able to help someone, not just with his or her case, but also with the things that landed him or her in court initially, I feel like I have been successful.”

In  life and in her professional practice, the Davie County attorney says there is one maxim she chooses to apply in both.  “Life is about choices.  I remind myself that the key difference between defending and being a defendant can be as simple as one bad decision.  Have empathy and follow the golden rule.”

As far as words of wisdom to impart on others, Cindy only said, “I am positive the juvenile defense community has many more words of wisdom to share than I, so please share with me (and with each other)!”

You can find more about Cindy on her personal website, https://www.cynthiaellislaw.com/, and her Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/cynthiaellislaw/.

 

Meet Cody Davis – OJD’s 2017 Fall Intern

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Cody Davis will be joining the office this fall as our new intern.  Cody is a third-year law student at Campbell University School of Law.

While in law school, Cody also received his Master’s of Public Administration from North Carolina State University.  Prior to law school, Cody received his Bachelor’s from North Carolina State University where he studied political science with minors in criminology and philosophy.  Cody has previously worked at the Legislative Analysis Division of the North Carolina General Assembly where he had the opportunity to experience the passage of North Carolina’s Raise-the-Age provisions and compile some research on juvenile jurisdiction across the country.  Cody also had the opportunity to shadow a juvenile defense attorney while he was in college.  In the community, Cody is a volunteer judge for Capital Area Teen Court and serves as the Assistant Director for the Campbell Law School’s Pro Bono Council.

Cody has always had an interest in juvenile delinquency issues, and that is what caused him to pursue a legal education.  Even before law school, Cody’s undergraduate coursework included the topic of juvenile delinquency; and in graduate school, one of Cody’s policy analysis research projects was a program evaluation of teen court programs.  Though Cody has lived in Raleigh for several years, he is originally from Archdale, N.C. and comes from a large, close family.

Also joining the office with Cody is his guide dog Bingo, an 8-year-old black lab.  Bingo is a graduate of Southeastern Guide Dogs; and her interests include eating, sleeping, and sniffing.

OJD Joins Facebook!

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It is our pleasure to announce that as of yesterday the Office of the Juvenile Defender is now on Facebook!  We have heard suggestions from the N.C. juvenile defender community and we have finally created a page for people to have discussions, share their own posts, and leave questions and concerns for us through Facebook now.  We encourage everyone to please like and follow us now at https://www.facebook.com/NCOJD!

Meet OJD’s 2017 Summer Intern, Jonathon Woodruff

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Jonathon Woodruff is a 23-year-old native of Winston-Salem, N.C.  He moved to Durham, N.C. to attend North Carolina Central University and graduated with a B.A. in Psychology.  Jonathon then moved to Raleigh, N.C. and enrolled at Campbell University School of Law.  He is a rising 3L student and will serve as the President of the Black Law Student Association and a 3L Representative to the Student Bar Association this upcoming year.  Jonathon has previously interned with Attorney Louis Woodruff and the Wake County Family Court.  He desires to practice in both criminal defense and family law.

OJD Spotlight: Q&A with Burcu Hensley

Today, we would like to turn our OJD Spotlight on Burcu Hensley, a four-year career attorney and one of the newest contractors in the N.C. juvenile defender family.  Burcu is a graduate of N.C. State University with a Bachelor of Science in Business Management and Norman Adrian Wiggins School of Law at Campbell University.  She possesses a strong desire to help anyone in need, and she enjoys photography and the great outdoors.

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What inspired you to become an attorney? And what drove you to become a juvenile defender?

Before attending law school, I worked in preschools teaching and playing with kids. Toward the end of that chapter in my life, I began working with children with special needs and quickly realized there was a great need for advocacy for this group of people. That’s when I decided to go to law school and do what I could to make a difference in the lives of these children. Of course, when I moved here to Western North Carolina, job opportunities were scarce, so I decided to stay solo, practicing criminal defense as it seemed to be an area with the greatest amount of work. When the opportunity to work as a juvenile defender presented itself, I was happy to jump on board because I knew this would allow me to work with the children and young population that inspire me so much to be an advocate in a field where I have already familiarized myself with the rules, procedures, and court system.

What is your greatest motivation in your work?

The human element. I love to work with people, whether adults or children, and take on multiple roles, including advocate and counselor. I find it very rewarding to be able to help someone through my work, whether it’s as simple as relieving their anxiety by explaining what to expect during a court session or as dramatic as a verdict of not guilty.

What personal skill do you possess that makes you better in your professional life?

I make it a point to practice being empathetic. I think it is extremely important to be able to see things from the client’s perspective so that I can strive for the outcome the client desires. It’s also a lot easier to answer questions when I can understand why the question was asked in the first place. We work in a service industry and an ability to understand what the client wants is a skill that allows us to do our jobs more completely.

What has been one of the most challenging parts of your job/what has been one of the most challenging cases you’ve had in your career so far?

Since day one, I have always found the hardest part of my job to be “delivering the bad news” to a client. While being empathetic (see above!) is helpful in most aspects of this career, it can also make telling a client something they don’t want to hear that much more difficult.

If you could do any other job, what would it be and why?

I truly love what I do, so this question stumped me a bit. But then a burst of cold air came through the office and I realized that maybe I would like to try my hand at being a bartender, preferably at an exotic beach resort with palm trees and white sand beaches. Margaritas and good stories sounds like a fun job description, and I wouldn’t mind learning a little bottle-spinning trick or two.

Just for fun, do you have any secret talents?

Well it wouldn’t be a secret if I told you, would it? However, if I could have one super power, I would want to be invisible, on command of course.

Is there any advice you would pass on to future juvenile defenders?

I still consider myself to be pretty new to the world of law in general, and most certainly in the world of juvenile defense, but I think one thing that any attorney can do, whether fresh out of law school or well-seasoned, and whether for juvenile defense or otherwise, is to ask questions. Ask questions of colleagues, ask questions of clients, ask questions of clerks, judges, court counselors, just ask questions! Ours is a profession where the more information we have, the better (well, usually), and just asking questions is one of the best ways to gather information. It builds relationships with people, it provides for a more thorough understanding of the problems and tasks at hand, and often even identifies problems or complications we didn’t know existed before so that we can address them before it’s too late.

For a brief background and other info, please see my website attorney profile: http://hensley-law-firm.com/profile/

Meet Evan Lee – OJD’s 2016 Summer Intern

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Evan Lee is a rising third year student at Campbell Law School. Originally from Greenville, North Carolina, Evan moved to Raleigh in 2007 to attend North Carolina State University. After receiving a degree in History and Social Studies education, he taught social studies at Heritage High School and Broughton High School in Wake County. Evan previously interned with the Department of Public Instruction in the Summer of 2015 and again in the Spring of 2016.  Evan received a public law interest grant from the A.J. Fletcher Foundation for working with the Office of the Juvenile Defender this summer.

Evan is recently married to his beautiful wife Megan. Megan is a practice representative for Bariatric Specialists of NC in Cary.