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!

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: Nov 16-20

Happy Friday Readers! It’s getting chilly outside, have you had your traditional cup of cider yet? We’re getting ready right now! We have a short and sweet blog for you today but still some great information to share!

TIP OF THE WEEK

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.

Survey

The NC Poverty Research Fund at the UNC School of Law are conducting a survey and could use your participation . It is part of a larger project examining poverty and the criminal justice system. Although this survey is geared toward attorneys, they’re interested in hearing from anyone who works with youth or previously worked with in the juvenile system. Please feel free to share with your colleagues and networks.

All responses are anonymous. No personal information is collected with this survey and if you have questions or concerns, please contact Heather Hunt, Research Associate at the NC Poverty Research Fund, at hhunt@email.unc.edu.

To take the survey, please click here. Please respond by December 1, 2020.

CLE OPPORTUNITY

Please join the NC Racial Equity Network Annual Convening, which will be held virtually from 1:00pm – 4:00pm on December 2 and December 4

In addition to a keynote address from NCSC Associate Justice Anita Earls and a deep dive into Batson and Fair Cross Section strategies, this program will also cover emerging developments related to racial justice and the Fourth Amendment, the lawyer’s ethical obligation to address structural racism, and the campaign to remove confederate monuments from North Carolina courthouses. 

Registration: Visit http://renapply.web.unc.edu/registration/ to register online and find additional information about the program. Pre-registration is required. The registration deadline is midnight, Friday, November 27. 

Fee: Thanks to a grant from the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation, registration is provided at no cost to participants.

CLE Credit: The NC Racial Equity Network Annual Convening offers up to 5.5 hours of CLE credit, including 4.50 hours of general CLE credit and 1.00 hour of ethics CLE credit (application pending), which we will report to the State Bar on your behalf. If you are unable to view the entire program, please submit a partial credit form to the program associate, Olivia Howes at howes@sog.unc.edu by December 14, 2020.    

For More Information: If you have any logistical questions or would like additional information, please contact Olivia Howes at howes@sog.unc.edu. If you have questions about the course content, please contact  escoward@sog.unc.edu.

Week in Review: Nov 9-13

Happy Friday Readers! While it’s been rainy this week for North Carolina, we hope wherever you’re reading this from, your week has been great and you continued to champion for Juvenile Justice. It’s a short and sweet blog today, just enough to get you headed to your weekend!

Appeals Tip of the Week: Courtesy of David Andrews, Office of the Appellate Defender

To preserve issues for appeal, object to any evidence that you suspect is inadmissible. Make sure you provide specific grounds for your objections and constitutionalize your objections. Lastly, get a ruling.  If you don’t get a ruling, the argument might be waived on appeal.

Job Announcement!

IDS is seeking a new Contracts Administrator based in Durham, NC. The Contracts Administrator would enter into and administer contracts with individual attorneys, law firms, and non-profits for indigent representation throughout North Carolina, primarily through a Request for Proposals (RFP) process.  This is a data and systems driven position.

Do you have knowledge of:management and maintenance of a database system to monitor contract performance and to generate reports; and policies related to issuing and evaluating RFPs and individually negotiated contracts in a government setting? Want to know more about this job posting? Maybe you’re looking for a change of pace? Well, click here to learn more and apply today! This posting closes 11/17.

Add Us on Social Media!

Twitter: @NCOJD

Facebook: North Carolina Office of the Juvenile Defender

More to come soon!

Week in Review: May 11-15

Another week down, many more more to go. Thank you for coming back to read another week in review with OJD. There’s a few webinars we want to tell you about and as always, a Tip of the Week. Short and sweet so you can go grill some hot dogs in this nice weather (save a burnt one for LaTobia) 😀

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 are in order to LaToya Powell who was named this years CHILDREN’S CHAMPION by the NC Bar Association’s Juvenile Justice and Children’s Rights Section at their annual meeting yesterday!!!!!!!! Congratulations LaToya and thank you for all your hard work defending and protecting children!!

  • Our first DEFENDER ONLY Online CLE Webinar: Video Conference Secure Custody Hearings, is next Friday, May 22 at 11:00 AM. It is a FREE CLE to the first 75 DEFENDERS. To register for this training, click HERE. Place your Job Title & Bar Number in: Job Title to ensure proper CLE credit.  Also include your organization in the Company field.
  • May 15 at 1:00 pm, Dr. Maureen Reardon of @NC_IDS and the Guilford County Public Defender’s Office is hosting a 1 Hour Online CLE on Working with Mental Health Experts: Psychological Testing in Criminal Cases. Register here for this great webinar!
  • May 18, 2020 at 12:00 PM join Strategies for Helping Youth Cope During Uncertain Times Webinar with Ruby Brown-Herring, from the NC Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities, and Substance Abuse Services. You can register here for this webinar.
  • OJJDP is hosting a webinar May 21, 1:00 to 2:15 PM, on Mentoring and Supporting Young People’s Mental Health and Well-being. It will focused on strategies and resources to support mental health for juveniles. Register here.

That sums up this week, have a great (and safe!) weekend! – OJD

Week in Review: Apr 27 – May 1

Welcome to May Readers! April went by a whole lot faster than March and we’re glad everyone is still safe and joining us for another OJD Week in Review.

TIP OF THE WEEK

Secure Custody

We are focusing our Tips of the Week on stages of juvenile proceedings that disproportionately impact youth of color. This week we are considering secure custody:

  • If possible, find out if your client is being detained before the initial secure custody hearing.  It’s critical to start the attorney-client relationship early and inform your client of their rights as well as what to expect at the hearing.
  • If you meet your client for the first time at the initial secure custody hearing, take a few minutes to introduce yourself, describe your role, and answer any questions about the hearing.
  • Come up with a plan for release:  reasonable conditions on your client, alternative placements, or other information that will help the court support a decision for release.
  • If your client is shackled, argue for the removal prior to court starting.  Shackling has an intense, lasting impact on your client and removal can be a good first step to developing confidence with your client. 
  • If your client is not released, make a plan to contact or visit them in detention to discuss next steps.  Make sure the parent/guardian has the contact information for the detention center as well to facilitate calls or visits.
  • If your client is released, make an appointment to meet before the next court date.  Review any conditions of release and encourage your client to contact you with any questions.

JOB OPPORTUNITY

IDS is seeking applicants for the Contracts Administrator and the position has been posted here:

https://www.governmentjobs.com/careers/northcarolina/jobs/2768601/contracts-administrator

The position closes May 7 at 5pm. This is a great way to contribute to indigent defense in North Carolina for a detailed and energetic individual.

RESOURCES

  1. Resources from Racial Justice for Youth: A Toolkit for Defenders can help you advocate for your many detained clients who are youth of color:

Sign up to access the Toolkit’s defender-only resources.

2. SAVE THE DATE: THURSDAY, MAY 14 11:00 AM to 12:30 PM

COVID-19: Implications of the Pandemic within the Criminal Justice System

NC CRED presents an interactive round-table webinar with leading experts in the North Carolina public health and criminal justice systems.

3. Rewatch Strategies for Youth Webinar: Improving Law Enforcement/Youth Interactions in Times of Crisis

HOPE THE START OF YOUR MONTH AND WEEKEND ARE GREAT!

THANKS FOR READING! JOIN US NEXT FRIDAY!

Week in Review: Apr 13-17

Happy Friday Readers! It’s been another hard (at home) working week for OJD, but with a constant focus on providing the most beneficial and practical information during this time. This week we don’t have a tip for you, rather an important message regarding racial justice for juveniles of color and secure custody. With COVID-19 affecting our detention centers and YDCs, it’s vital to remember that fair treatment includes every juvenile. Read below for viable resources to combat that.

In June 2019 a new study on North Carolina disproportionate minority contact was published.   Using data from DJJ, the study showed that the race of a juvenile contributes to disproportionate negative outcomes, especially for black youth.  Specifically, black youth were more likely to have complaints filed against them, be placed in secure custody, or committed to a youth development center (YDC).  In an attempt to better serve youth color in the system, here are several resources on representing youth of color:

Other Resources from the National Juvenile Defender Center

In addition, the next three tips of the week will focus on the stages of complaints filed, secure custody, and youth development center commitment.

You can also download this post here for your keeping.

North Carolina Defenders

Yesterday we released an important notice regarding operational changes to instituted by state juvenile justice officials in response to the Covid-19 pandemic that may affect youth held in detention. Please continue to refer to that release for resources on how best to serve your clients in secure custody and for the encouragement of alternative options.

THANKS FOR READING AND STAY TUNED FOR NEXT WEEK!

BE SAFE AND STAY HEALTHY!

NC IDS IS SEEKING THE NEXT EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR!

The IDS Commission is seeking the next Executive Director for IDS and the position has been posted here:  https://www.governmentjobs.com/careers/northcarolina/jobs/2686309/executive-director-indigent-defense-services

The position closes February 18, 2020, and the Commission expects to conduct interviews March 26 or 27. 

This is an exciting opportunity for someone with a vision for public defense in North Carolina and an interest in working with great people to turn that vision into reality. 

If you want to learn more about North Carolina’s Indigent Defense Services and how you can be of great help to our community, visit the IDS Website.

Week in Review: Nov 11-15

What a cold week we had here in North Carolina. Where did Fall go?

We are 17 days away from the implementation of Raise the Age! The countdown from 100 years has been LONG! 😀

Legislative Updates!

There were a few updates for 2019 juvenile justice legislation. Read about them here.

RAISE THE AGE TIP!

How Will Probable Cause Be Different for 16 and 17 Year Olds?

Currently for 13, 14 and 15 year olds, if the court finds probable cause, the court must also have a transfer hearing before determining whether a juvenile should be transferred (except for First Degree Murder, which must be transferred if probable cause is found).  The probable cause hearing must be held within 15 days of first appearance but may be continued for good cause.

For 16 and 17 year olds charged with a Class A through G offense, if the court finds probable cause, the court must transfer the case to superior court.  Another important difference is that the probable cause hearing must be held within 90 days of first appearance but may be continued for good cause.

For 16 and 17 year olds charged with a Class H or I offense, the court must have both a probable cause hearing and a transfer hearing before transferring the juvenile to superior court.

TRAINING!

We have a RADIO GUEST STAR IN THE OFFICE!!

Austine was invited to interview at North Carolina Central University’s School of Law podcast, The Legal Eagle alongside Dorothy Hairston Mitchell. Dorothy is the Clinical Assistant Professor and Supervising Attorney at the Juvenile Law Clinic at NCCU. They spoke about juvenile justice and Raise the Age, both very important issues.

Want to check out that interview, visit Legal Eagle Sunday at 7 PM.

LAST BUT DEFINITELY NOT LEAST!

Join us on Twitter & Facebook for a Town Hall regarding Raise The Age. Want us to answer a specific question or simply join in on the conversation? Use the hashtag #RaiseTheAgeNC !