Guest Blog – Drew Kukorowski Talks JTIP

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I recently attended the Juvenile Training Immersion Program (JTIP) co-sponsored by the National Juvenile Defender Center and Georgetown Law’s Juvenile Justice Clinic. This is a week-long trial skills program specifically designed for frontline juvenile defenders. Roughly, think bootcamp for juvenile defenders.

The program runs from Sunday evening through Saturday morning, and covers everything from competency evaluations to post-disposition advocacy. One of the best parts of the program is its lecture/breakout structure: sessions typically involved a lecture about some particular aspect of a juvenile case (e.g., Motions to Suppress Identifications, Disposition Advocacy, Probation Violations) and are followed by small-group breakout sessions. The breakout sessions give you a chance to practice implementing points from the lecture, and to get instant feedback from your instructors and fellow defenders.

The trial advocacy training is top-notch, but one of the best parts of the program was interacting with frontline defenders from around the country. I was amazed at how different each state’s juvenile delinquency system operates, and yet all of us face similar problems: the over-reliance on putting children, particularly children of color, in cages; the sacrifice of and often outright disrespect for constitutional and statutory rights in the name of efficiency and ‘getting services’; and reluctance and distaste by juvenile court actors to incorporate recent Supreme Court jurisprudence into everyday practice. We were all able to share different strategies and tactics for overcoming these injustices. I returned to North Carolina with new ideas about how I can better represent my clients in juvenile court.

Given its length, the program is exhausting, but it’s also exhilarating. You’re with fellow defenders of youth who all want to improve outcomes for their clients, and who are willing to explore innovative ways to do that. It was without question the most informative, innovative, and practical legal training I’ve ever attended. I’d encourage any defender in North Carolina to apply for next summer. Please don’t hesitate to contact me ( if you’re interested or have questions.

Drew Kukorowski is a public defender for young people in Charlotte. In 2012, he began working as a Staff Attorney on the Children’s Defense Team at the Council for Children’s Rights. He previously worked at the Prison Policy Initiative and Advocates for Children’s Services of Legal Aid of North Carolina.


Juvenile Defense Mentor Program

The North Carolina Advocates for Justice Juvenile Defense Section wants to ensure that every juvenile defender in North Carolina has access to a Juvenile Defense Mentor if they would like one. This service is available for members of the NC Advocates for Justice at no charge and there is a minimal time commitment.

If you are not a member of the NC Advocates for Justice, please contact Amy Smith at  If you are a not a member of the NCAJ Juvenile Defense Section, please contact Amy Smith at

If you are interested in being paired with a Juvenile Defense Mentor in your area, please complete the survey found here.

We would love to have you join our network of juvenile defense attorneys. Whether or not you are a member of NCAJ, we are here as a resource for all attorneys practicing juvenile defense in the State of North Carolina. If you have any questions do not hesitate to contact Amy Smith at NCAJ at 919-835-2811 or Valerie Pearce at 919-667-3369.

Valerie E. Pearce, J.D.

IDS Regional Defender, Divisions II and IV and

NCAJ President, Juvenile Defense Section



Annual Conference

Don’t forget our upcoming Annual Juvenile Defender Conference on August 15, 2014. We are looking forward to seeing all of our defenders, whether you are a contract attorney, an assistant public defender, or a privately appointed attorney. Thank you for all of your hard work.

Juvenile Defense: Raising the Bar
The Juvenile Defender Conference addresses topics of interest to attorneys who represent children in delinquency proceedings. This year’s program focuses on innovative practices that can increase the effectiveness of representation in delinquency proceedings. We will examine topics such as enforcing due process rights, challenging consent searches, and promising practices in the view of experienced delinquency court judges. The program also includes a case and legislative update and an ethics hour on building client confidence.

Location, Dates, and Times: Friday, August 15, respectively, at the School of Government on the UNC-Chapel Hill campus. Sign-in is 8:00 to 8:45 a.m. each day.

Registration: To register, as well as to find directions, hotel information, and other program information (including our cancellation and refund policy), visit:
Registration (Juvenile Defender Conference)

Fee: Thanks to support from IDS, there is no fee for IDS state employees. The registration fee for private assigned counsel is $150, which includes all materials, parking, breaks, and lunch.

Additional Information: We look forward to seeing you in August. If you have any questions or would like additional information, please contact me, Danielle Rivenbark—Program Manager—at / 919.843.8981. If you have questions about the course content please contact Austine Long – Program Attorney – at / 919.962.9594.