From a Lawyer’s View: The Importance of Creativity in the Representation of Juveniles at Disposition

Happy Friday Readers! No Week in Review this week, but please keep reading for our 2nd installment in our new series: “A Lawyer’s View.”

The Importance of Creativity in the Representation of Juveniles at Disposition: Advocating for Alternative Dispositions

Dispositional hearings often feel a bit like the players are on the scene of the Bill Murray movie “Ground Hog Day.” The juvenile court counselor presents his or her recommendations to the court. The attorney has no questions but desires to be heard. The attorney says a few nice things about his or her client. The Court makes findings, and then adopts the recommendations of the court counselor. This scene is repeated regularly every day in delinquency court.

Although much of the time the recommendations of the juvenile court counselor are well-suited to address the juvenile’s rehabilitative and treatment needs, it is the duty of the juvenile’s attorney to make recommendations for alternative solutions when appropriate. Often, that necessitates a bit of creativity on the part of the attorney for the juvenile.

N.C.G.S. §7B-2506 provides a comprehensive list of dispositional alternatives available to the court for delinquent juveniles. These dispositional alternatives are affected by the dispositional limits for each class of offense and the delinquency history level of the juvenile. (See N.C.G.S. §7B-2506-2508)

The first step to making creative suggestions to the court regarding the dispositional alternatives is for a juvenile’s attorney to make themselves knowledgeable about the services available in their community. Attorneys who represent juveniles in delinquency cases should also get to know their clients, and the client’s parents in order to determine the juvenile’s rehabilitative and treatment needs.

Oftentimes, parents of the juvenile are well-equipped to ensure that the juvenile’s needs are being met. Attorneys should meet with their clients ahead of the scheduled court date and make inquiry of the parents regarding the needs of the juveniles, and what provisions can be made prior to the disposition to show the Court that the parents can meet these rehabilitative and treatment needs. Parents can arrange for therapy, substance abuse treatment, private community service, or any number of other services. Parents can implement in-home punishments such as a curfew, attend school regularly, remain on good behavior, not associate with anyone deemed inappropriate by the parent, or be at any place deemed inappropriate by the parent. These are typical conditions of a juvenile’s probation that do not necessarily require supervision by a juvenile court counselor. The juvenile’s attorney should prepare to inform the court regarding the conditions put in place by the juvenile’s parents, the parents’ plans for implementation, and provide examples of how the parents’ plans are being carried out in the home.

When an appropriate plan can be implemented by a juvenile’s parents, the juvenile’s attorney can ask the court to dismiss the disposition, or to place conditions on the juvenile under the parents’ supervision. Remember not all juveniles who are adjudicated delinquent require the supervision of a juvenile court counselor to address their rehabilitative and treatment needs. Attorneys should not rely on the juvenile court counselor’s court report to determine what those rehabilitative and treatment needs are. Attorneys should be prepared at disposition to advise the court regarding the needs of the juvenile and to make recommendations regarding the best way to address those needs.

Attorneys can get too comfortable with the “groundhog effect,” walking into court on the disposition court date, reading the recommendations of the juvenile court counselor, and not coming prepared to make their own recommendations. Oftentimes, this is because they assume that the judges are also on autopilot and reflexively adopt those recommendations. Judges look to the juvenile court counselor, the assistant district attorney, and the attorney for the juvenile to inform them of the juvenile’s rehabilitative and treatment needs and to make suggestions tailored to address these needs. Taking a little time to educate yourself about resources available in the community and to inform yourself about the needs of the client will assist you with becoming more creative in your suggestions to the court, and in achieving a better outcome for your client.

Written by: Honorable Christine Underwood. Judge Underwood presides over district court in Judicial District 22A, which includes Alexander and Iredell counties. She has been on the bench since January 2009. Before that, Judge Underwood was in private practice. She held a contract with the State of North Carolina to represent juveniles in delinquency court. Her other areas of practice included parent representation in Abuse/Neglect/Dependency court, criminal law, and family law. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science from Appalachian State University in 1994 and received her Juris Doctor from Campbell University’s Normal Adrian Wiggins School of Law in 2004.

Week in Review: June 8-12

Welcome to the start of your weekend, but of course we couldn’t leave without another week in review.

Tip of the Week

Before You Plea: Talk to your client about the impacts of an adjudication.  While not as public as adult criminal convictions, juvenile adjudications may impact the following: immigration status, educational placement, housing conditions, eligibility to play sports, placement on a sex offender registry (in N.C. or other states) and others.  Always consider the long-term consequences of what may first appear to be a short-term decision.

Training

Today is the last day of the 2020 SJDC Virtual Summit. There’s still time to register for another great topic: Where Do We Go From Here: Juvenile Defense Post COVID-19 with Moderator: Rob Mason and Panelists: Amy Borror, Kristen Rome, Eric Zogry. Click here for the registration link. CLE will be offered as well. This course starts at 2:00 PM

Upcoming Webinar, Thursday, June 25, 3:00PM: Best Practice Interviewing of Children in Sexual Abuse Cases. Dr. John Helminski is presenting and is a licensed psychologist who is board certified in forensic psychology. He acts as a consultant to attorneys in cases of child maltreatment with extensive experience conducting forensic and psychological assessments in child abuse cases. Please use this link to register.

While not a CLE course, OJD is starting our Juvenile Defender Forums. This will be an opportunity to meet your regional juvenile defender and network with other juvenile defense attorneys in your district. Keep a watch out for your email invite!

Lastly… Earlier this week, OJD released a statement regarding the recent protests and killing of George Floyd. You can read that here.

That will wrap up another great week at OJD. Thank you for stopping by and we’ll see you (virtually) soon!

Week in Review: May 4-8

Thanks for stopping by for another Week in Review! Plenty of meetings and calls this week as NC gears up to reopen our courts and we’re so ready to share new ways to pursue juvenile justice in this new time. Remember, if you have any questions or suggestions, we are more than willing to help.

Also! OJD is looking to develop and provide webinar training to our Juvenile Defenders throughout this pandemic. We are currently requesting topics and information you would like to have discussed. Please email Austine Long with your thoughts. Thank you.

TIP OF THE WEEK

Youth Development Center commitment

We are focusing our Tips of the Week on stages of juvenile proceedings that disproportionately impact youth of color. This week we are considering commitment to a youth development center (YDC):

  • Whenever disposition is being entered for your client, always argue for the lowest level of disposition.  A small number of points, or a violation of probation, can quickly send your client to YDC.
  • Consult with the court counselor and the ADA on their recommendations to the court.  If possible, negotiate a lesser disposition than YDC commitment before court.
  • Meet with your client before the dispositional hearing and provide the court with an alternative disposition plan that considers the safety of the community and your client’s needs.
  • Provide in court testimony from supportive community members.
  • Consider offering the court recent recidivism studies which indicate that commitment to YDC is factor for increased recidivism in juveniles. 

Resources

  • May 14, 2020 at 11 AM: NC CRED presents an interactive round-table webinar with leading experts in the North Carolina public health and criminal justice systems. The webinar will explore current conditions in North Carolina and discuss actionable steps to help mitigate the adverse effects on people in North Carolina who is a webinar about preparing and conducting video conference secure custody hearings. The speaker will discuss best practices, confidentiality and other important issues concerning video conferencing hearings.are involved with the criminal justice system. To register for this webinar, click HERE.
  • From the Coalition for Juvenile Justice and the National Juvenile Justice Network member call, “COVID-19: The Heightened Dangers of Confinement” here are some resources they discussed.
  1. Distinction between medical isolation and solitary (AMEND at UCSF)
  2. A list of disability specific issues/resources (NDRN)
  3. Center for Educational Excellence in Alternative Settings
  4. Council of Juvenile Justice Administrators
  5. National Commission on Correctional Healthcare
  6. National Partnership on Juvenile Service
  7. Stop Solitary for Kids
  8. Tolerance.org

Thanks for stopping by!

Week in Review: March 2-6

What a week for OJD! Started off smooth sailing and then 2 days at the UNC School of Government for the Intensive Juvenile Defender Training. But we’ll get to that later, first substance!

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

If the trial attorney does not file any motion to suppress, (or make an oral motion as allowed by §7B-2408.5(e)), the juvenile cannot raise a suppression issue on appeal. State v. Miller, 2018 N.C. LEXIS 425. If the juvenile made a confession or was subject to a search or seizure, you should strongly consider filing and litigating a suppression motion.

NEW COA OPINIONS!

There has been a new Court of Appeals opinion and we have that available to you on our website under Materials for Defenders > Case Summaries. Remember this page has many different summaries that can help you in your defense. Here’s a link to In The Matter of H.D.H. the most recent update.

2020 Juvenile Justice & Children’s Rights Section Annual Meeting

The NCBA Juvenile Justice & Children’s Rights Section are having their annual meeting and CLE on Thursday, May 4, 2020 at the NC Bar Center in Cary. The topic discuss Raise the Age in different aspects, such as: The Juvenile Court Counselors View, School to Prision Pipeline and will also have a Juvenile Justice Panel. Check-in begins at 8:30 AM and the CLE will end at 12:15. If you are interested, you can reach out to Eric for more information.

UPCOMING TRAINING!

Last but not least! Training Recap: 2020 Intensive Juvenile Defender Training at UNC SOG.

2 full days of learning at the UNC School of Government did not go unappreciated. Defenders learned topics ranging from Adolescent Behavior to Disposition Advocacy. Packed with workshops and discussions on how to advocate for our youth, UNC and OJD did a great job of bringing defenders out and lifting them up in the defense community. Take a look at some photos below.

2020 JTIP Summer Academy

The deadline for applications to the 2020 JTIP Summer Academy is fast approaching! Applications are due no later than January 12th, 2020, 11:59 PM EST.

*If you have already applied for the JTIP Summer Academy or you plan to submit an application, please contact Austine Long as soon as possible.

The National Juvenile Defender Center (NJDC) and Georgetown Law Juvenile Justice Initiative are excited be accepting applications for the 2020 Juvenile Training Immersion Program (JTIP) Summer Academy, which will be held in Washington, DC from May 31 – June 6, 2020.

The Summer Academy is intended for both new and experienced juvenile defenders. New defenders will develop the skills they need to zealously represent their clients. More experienced juvenile defenders will have the opportunity to refine their skills and enhance their effectiveness by employing defense strategies that incorporate the unique aspects of representing youth in delinquency cases. The program is also designed to build community and equip juvenile defenders with skills they can share with colleagues in their home state.

For more information on how to apply visit https://njdc.info/our-work/jtip/jtip-summer-academy/ or see the attached application.

  • Applications are to be submitted via email to lawjtipsummer@georgetown.edu, using the official PDF application. Please save your application with “First Name Last Name” as the file name.
  • The deadline for application submission is January 12th, 2020, 11:59 PM EST. Late applications will not be considered.

Apply today!

OJD Week in Review: August 26-30

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School’s Back

As students return to school, defenders may want to check out the OJD website for tips on defending students charged at school.  Under Materials for Defenders you can find a list of Materials by Training Subject.  Check out “School Related Issues” and “Special Education” topics.

New Resources

NJDC App

njdc app

The National Juvenile Defender Center (NJDC) recently released Juvenile Defense Resources, a mobile app available in the Apple Store and Google Play Store, which provides juvenile defense attorneys with helpful resources to defend young people in delinquency cases. Through the mobile app, juvenile defense attorneys can access sample motions, reports, issues briefs, policy statements, checklists, and other helpful tools to grow their legal, advocacy, and leadership skills, and to improve the practice of lawyers that represent young people.

To access the mobile app, juvenile defense attorneys can search “Juvenile Defense Resources” or “National Juvenile Defender Center” in the search box within their respective application stores and install the app (see photo for reference). In order to sign up to access the app, prospective members must certify that they are currently representing youth in delinquency court, and will be directed to create a username and password unique to each member. You may sign up directly through the mobile app or through NJDC’s website, via the login button on NJDC’S homepage or directly at this link.

Please note that the mobile app is password protected and you will not be able to access the resources until your request for access has been approved. Please allow up to three (3) business days for your request to be approved.

Over the next few weeks, NJDC will continue to build the database of resources available through the mobile app. If you have any questions or run into any technical issues when trying to sign up or access the mobile app, or the resources contained within, please contact NJDC’s 2017-2019 Gault Fellow, Aneesa Khan, at akhan@njdc.info for assistance.

Detention Toolkit

njdc right to liberty (2)

The National Juvenile Defender Center (NJDC) has released a new toolkit, A Right to Liberty: Resources for Challenging the Detention of Children.

Ensuring a child or young person remains out of detention prior to trial safeguards their right to liberty and the presumption of innocence. The resources contained in this toolkit can be used to uphold and advance children’s liberty interests at the individual level and in policy advocacy.  Though NC does not have money bail for juveniles, the toolkit provides helpful strategies for arguing for your clients’ release from detention.

Included in the toolkit are:

  • A Right to Liberty: The Origin of Bail
  • Annotated Bibliography on Risks Associated with Incarceration
  • Sample Habeas Petition Challenging the Pretrial Detention of Children

This resource is accessible by clicking here. The Sample Habeas Petition is accessible by clicking here.

 

OJD Week In Review: August 5-9, Short But Sweet

It’s August, and things can get a little slow at OJD, but we do have a few highlights for you.  Hope to see folks at the Annual Conference today!

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.

If you missed it, check out out Guest Blogger: David Andrews, Office of the Appellate Defender

David Andrews



Also, if you haven’t, check out IDS’ Facebook page, full of great information, in particular the personal testimonies of public defenders, and follow IDS on Twitter.

                                       new ids logo

 



Guest Blogger: David Andrews, Office of the Appellate Defender

Any Given Sunday  I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t watch a lot of football.  The games are long and there’s that persistent risk of concussion.  But a phrase you sometimes hear with football – “any given Sunday” – has a ring to it.  During any particular game, the underdog could surprise everyone and upset a higher-ranked team.  So it is with the law.  The Supreme Court of North Carolina issues opinions once or month or once every two months, but always on a Friday.  And, so, on any given Friday, a defendant or a juvenile could surprise everyone and come out on top.  The Court of Appeals issues opinions on the first and third Tuesdays of each month.  So, you know, “any given Tuesday.”  But how do you get to a point where an upset is possible?  One way is through motions.  Over the past several months, my colleagues and I at the Office of the Appellate Defender (“OAD”) have been working with attorneys at the Office of the Juvenile Defender (“OJD”), the Center for Death Penalty Litigation, and Prisoner Legal Services on sample motions for various issues.  You can find these motions on the OAD and OJD websites.  The motions are designed in part to preserve legal arguments and, thus, to achieve that unexpected win on appeal.  However, they also serve to educate judges and lawyers about specific legal issues.  And who knows? One or more of the motions might win in trial court.  One set of motions involves the new offenses of making a false report of mass violence on educational property and communicating a threat of mass violence on educational property.  The motions involve various free speech arguments.  From the outside, free speech arguments can seem complicated.  But have no fear – these motions provide case law and a roadmap for asserting free speech claims.  Another motion lays out an argument that the State should be required to give notice if it intends to seek a higher disposition on the ground that the juvenile committed the offense while on probation and then prove that the juvenile was on probation beyond a reasonable doubt.  Juveniles are entitled to the same notice as adults.  In addition, the State is required to prove every fact necessary to constitute the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. Under Apprendi v. New Jersey, 530 U.S. 466 (2000), sentencing enhancements in criminal cases are treated as elements that the State is required to prove beyond a reasonable doubt.  The same logic should arguably apply to delinquency cases.  Finally, there is a batch a motions that all involve extending Miller v. Alabama, 567 U.S. 460 (2012) to some of its logical conclusions.  For example, there is a motion arguing that the mandatory transfer of first-degree murder cases to adult court is unconstitutional. If judges are required to take youth into account before imposing an LWOP sentence, they should be required to do so before transferring the case to adult court.  Another motion argues that the threshold for imposing the death penalty and mandatory LWOP sentences should be extended from 18- to 25-years old.  Miller was premised on research into adolescent brain development.  And, so, if that same research indicates that the adolescent brain does not finish maturing until the mid-20s, then the law should reflect that research, as well.  Finally, there’s a motion arguing that felony murder should not apply to juveniles.  In North Carolina, felony murder is based on deterrence.  However, Miller explains that deterrence doesn’t work with kids because kids tend act impulsively without considering the consequences of their conduct.  All of these arguments are just that – arguments.  Some may win, some will lose.  But we won’t know unless we try.  On any given day in court, anything is possible. Profile Picture - Small
David Andrews

Any Given Sunday

I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t watch a lot of football.  The games are long and there’s that persistent risk of concussion.  But a phrase you sometimes hear with football – “any given Sunday” – has a ring to it.  During any particular game, the underdog could surprise everyone and upset a higher-ranked team.

So it is with the law.  The Supreme Court of North Carolina issues opinions once or month or once every two months, but always on a Friday.  And, so, on any given Friday, a defendant or a juvenile could surprise everyone and come out on top.  The Court of Appeals issues opinions on the first and third Tuesdays of each month.  So, you know, “any given Tuesday.”

But how do you get to a point where an upset is possible?  One way is through motions.  Over the past several months, my colleagues and I at the Office of the Appellate Defender (“OAD”) have been working with attorneys at the Office of the Juvenile Defender (“OJD”), the Center for Death Penalty Litigation, and Prisoner Legal Services on sample motions for various issues.  You can find these motions on the OAD and OJD websites.  The motions are designed in part to preserve legal arguments and, thus, to achieve that unexpected win on appeal.  However, they also serve to educate judges and lawyers about specific legal issues.  And who knows? One or more of the motions might win in trial court.

One set of motions involves the new offenses of making a false report of mass violence on educational property and communicating a threat of mass violence on educational property.  The motions involve various free speech arguments.  From the outside, free speech arguments can seem complicated.  But have no fear – these motions provide case law and a roadmap for asserting free speech claims.

Another motion lays out an argument that the State should be required to give notice if it intends to seek a higher disposition on the ground that the juvenile committed the offense while on probation and then prove that the juvenile was on probation beyond a reasonable doubt.  Juveniles are entitled to the same notice as adults.  In addition, the State is required to prove every fact necessary to constitute the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. Under Apprendi v. New Jersey, 530 U.S. 466 (2000), sentencing enhancements in criminal cases are treated as elements that the State is required to prove beyond a reasonable doubt.  The same logic should arguably apply to delinquency cases.

Finally, there is a batch a motions that all involve extending Miller v. Alabama, 567 U.S. 460 (2012) to some of its logical conclusions.  For example, there is a motion arguing that the mandatory transfer of first-degree murder cases to adult court is unconstitutional. If judges are required to take youth into account before imposing an LWOP sentence, they should be required to do so before transferring the case to adult court.  Another motion argues that the threshold for imposing the death penalty and mandatory LWOP sentences should be extended from 18- to 25-years old.  Miller was premised on research into adolescent brain development.  And, so, if that same research indicates that the adolescent brain does not finish maturing until the mid-20s, then the law should reflect that research, as well.  Finally, there’s a motion arguing that felony murder should not apply to juveniles.  In North Carolina, felony murder is based on deterrence.  However, Miller explains that deterrence doesn’t work with kids because kids tend act impulsively without considering the consequences of their conduct.

All of these arguments are just that – arguments.  Some may win, some will lose.  But we won’t know unless we try.  On any given day in court, anything is possible.

OJD Week in Review: July 15 – 19

This Week’s Blog Includes:

  • We’re Hiring!
  • Tip of the Week
  • Legislative Update
  • Still Time to Sign Up for the Annual Training!

Untitled

We’re hiring for a new Communications and Office Manager! Duties include responsible for defining and executing a social media strategy, including maintaining and updating the juvenile defender website, Twitter feed, Facebook page, and other social media; maintaining a list of juvenile defense counsel statewide including privately assigned counsel, contractors, public defenders, and clinics; identifying new juvenile defenders and create and update information packages for new defenders; assisting with the development of new technologies/platforms for providing legal education; providing general office support and management.

For a complete list of duties and details about the position, click here for the posting.

Tip of the Week – Searches Not on School Property

While an earlier tip referred to searches on school property as involving a lower standard, searches of juveniles not on school property are governed by a “reasonable juvenile standard.”  Specifically, In the matter of I.R.T., 184 N.C. App. 579, 647 S.E.2d 129 (2007) held that the age of a juvenile is a relevant factor in determining whether a reasonable person would feel free to leave upon being stopped by law enforcement.

Legislation

Senate Bill 413, which includes recommendations from the Juvenile Jurisdiction Advisory Committee, has passed the House and is being sent back to the Senate for concurrence.  It is on the Senate Calendar for Monday, July 22. Once the bill is final, we’ll be sure to get a breakdown on the OJD site and of course will be included in the upcoming training materials.  The budget bill with RTA funding was passed and then vetoed by the governor.  Both the House and the Senate have proposed supplemental budget bills, with the House bill including some RTA funding, but there is currently no version agreed upon by both chambers.

Training

Registration is now open for the 2019 Parent Attorney and Juvenile Defender conferences.  The Parent Attorney Conference will be held Thursday, Aug. 8 and the Juvenile Defender Conference will be held Friday, Aug. 9, and both would begin at 8:30 a.m. each day.  Both conferences, cosponsored by the School of Government and the Office of Indigent Defense Services, will be held at the School of Government on the UNC-Chapel Hill campus, and offer approximately six hours of CLE credit.  The Parent Attorney Conference provides training for attorneys, who represent parents in abuse, neglect, dependency, and termination of parental rights proceedings.  The Juvenile Defender Conference provides training for attorneys who represent children in delinquency proceedings.  Please feel free to download the Juvenile Defender Conference agenda here and the Parent Attorney Conference agenda here.  If you have any questions, please contact Program Manager Kate Jennings, or if you have questions about the course content, please contact Program Attorney Austine Long.

OJD Week in Review: July 15 – 19

Hello again and another good Friday to you all!  This week there is a new tip and just the single training reminder.  Content for the end of the week may still be light, but please make sure to subscribe to the OJD blog and follow our OJD Twitter and Facebook pages as well to get updates, relevant articles, and other juvenile defense-related content throughout the week!

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Tip of the Week – Searches Not on School Property

While an earlier tip referred to searches on school property as involving a lower standard, searches of juveniles not on school property are governed by a “reasonable juvenile standard.”  Specifically, In the matter of I.R.T., 184 N.C. App. 579, 647 S.E.2d 129 (2007) held that the age of a juvenile is a relevant factor in determining whether a reasonable person would feel free to leave upon being stopped by law enforcement.

Training

Registration is now open for the 2019 Parent Attorney and Juvenile Defender conferences.  The Parent Attorney Conference will be held Thursday, Aug. 8 and the Juvenile Defender Conference will be held Friday, Aug. 9, and both would begin at 8:30 a.m. each day.  Both conferences, cosponsored by the School of Government and the Office of Indigent Defense Services, will be held at the School of Government on the UNC-Chapel Hill campus, and offer approximately six hours of CLE credit.  The Parent Attorney Conference provides training for attorneys, who represent parents in abuse, neglect, dependency, and termination of parental rights proceedings.  The Juvenile Defender Conference provides training for attorneys who represent children in delinquency proceedings.  Please feel free to download the Juvenile Defender Conference agenda here and the Parent Attorney Conference agenda here.  If you have any questions, please contact Program Manager Kate Jennings, or if you have questions about the course content, please contact Program Attorney Austine Long.

Here we end this Week in Review.  We wish you a safe and relaxing weekend and we will bring you more news from the N.C. juvenile defense community next Friday!