OJD and NJDC Host Training to Prepare for Raising the Age

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NJDC’s Amanda Powell engages in discussion with trainees

With Raise the Age’s full implementation now only several months away, OJD has been diligent in rolling out its North Carolina Juvenile Defender State Enhancement Program (SEP).  As part of this initiative, from Apr. 24 – 26 the Office of Juvenile Defender (OJD) partnered with the National Juvenile Defender Center (NJDC) to teach 10 dedicated N.C. juvenile defense attorneys NJDC’s Juvenile Training Immersion Program (JTIP).

During the three-day training program, three NJDC trainers engaged juvenile defenders in various hands-on activities and discussions in preparation to be effective regional trainers of other defenders across the state.  Discussions ranged from the difficulties of representing juveniles to cultivating showmanship and employing adult learning theory.  Defenders were also put into pairs and small groups for some activities to encourage collaboration.

As one of the first pieces in the SEP project, funded by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), the purpose of JTIP was to allow OJD to offer more quality training to defenders statewide, while also providing more support from defenders who practice in the communities and regions they will train in.  JTIP is meant specifically for trainer presentation, but does not offer substantive training on the new law.

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NJDC’s Amanda Powell discusses showmanship.

Also as a result of the OJJDP grant, Project Attorney Monique Williams joined the OJD team earlier this year.  As project attorney, she has done extensive investigations of juvenile courts in multiple counties, collected data, and devised new training to prepare N.C. juvenile defenders for the full implementation of Raise the Age.

“The JTIP training was absolutely the highlight of my tenure here as the Project Attorney for the OJJDP grant,” said Williams.  “I was able to sit in on some of the sessions, and the vast materials and concepts imparted by NJDC to our N.C. attorneys will not only enhance their instructional facilitation skills, but their practice skills as well.  I am certain that juvenile advocates across the state of N.C. will be educated and empowered by the content that will be shared with them in the coming future, and I am excited to see the positive impact in representation for our clients.”

Dorothy Hairston Mitchell, assistant clinical professor of law and supervising attorney of the Juvenile Law Clinic at North Carolina Central University (NCCU), was among the 10 participants selected for the program.  Mitchell and other members of NCCU’s staff were instrumental in assisting with preparations for the training.

“[North Carolina Central University] was so excited to host this training and the collaboration, working with Monique and everybody, was phenomenal,” Mitchell said.  “As a participant, I thought it was also phenomenal…  Really well put together.  I appreciated the way that they grouped us, they had us partnered up and, at least for my partner, I think we were perfectly paired.  And all of the people in our group, it seemed like everyone felt the same way…  I have not been to too many trainings where I come out like ‘Oh, my God, every single moment was just great!’, and this was one of them.”

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From right to left: NJDC’s Kristina Kersey, Tim Curry and Amanda Powell, and OJD’s Monique Williams

Although JTIP offers a more intensive 40-lesson program that spans multiple weeks, NJDC agreed to condense the training for the N.C. attorneys, providing them with the additional information, but simplifying the presentation to fit the three-day window.  Mitchell also stated that she was interested in learning more, saying that while she appreciated the experience, extending the training would have been the only thing she would have changed.  “It was very intense the way it was, but I would’ve appreciated [the longer training].  It was so good, that I had a longing for what we didn’t get.”

With JTIP now completed, the next steps in the SEP are to provide the regional and local trainings and follow up with trainers for future site visits.  Williams will also conduct further court observations, post-training evaluations, and surveys to help OJD assess what areas juvenile defenders may need more training in following Raise the Age’s full implementation.

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Group photo of new N.C. regional trainers and NJDC JTIP trainers.

 

 

2018 Year in Review

This past year has been a very eventful and exciting year for the juvenile defense community.  With N.C. now less than a year from the full implementation of the Raise the Age (RTA) legislation, which will raise the age of juvenile delinquency court jurisdiction, OJD has been working throughout 2018 to prepare attorneys around the state for the anticipated changes.

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Contracts & Trainings

Trainings:  OJD hosted multiple regional trainings around the state to discuss the Juvenile Justice Reinvestment Act (also known as the RTA legislation) and the office’s plans to address it going forward.  OJD also hosted various juvenile court basics trainings in different regions at the request of local attorneys and bar associations and will continue to do so upon request.  OJD also presented to law students and collaborated with other organizations, such as the N.C. Advocates for Justice Juvenile Defense Section, to train attorneys on RTA.

Contracts:  OJD established no new contracts this year, however there was a juvenile delinquency RFP issued and a few open contract positions filled through the year.  As part of the response to RTA, OJD will evaluate current contracts and observe court in all districts to determine where new contracts will be needed once the law is fully implemented.  Assistant Juvenile Defender Kim Howes has also met with contractors in different districts to address issues and strategize on their cases.

Legislation

While there was no new legislation this year that OJD worked on, Juvenile Defender Eric Zogry continued to be active on the Juvenile Justice Advisory Committee (JJAC) and the Legal Revisions and Legislative Issues Subcommittee, assisting in the planning and adjustments before the full implementation of RTA.  We also provide the most current information we can for frontline defenders and stakeholders pertaining to the changes to the law.

Outreach

This year OJD has continued to grow in our online presence.  We’ve continued to trend Dilemma of Dutiesupward with the numbers on social media and we still encourage all attorneys doing juvenile defense work in N.C. to join our Facebook/Twitter page.  On the OJD website, new content is still being added to the blog, and new resources are still being provided to prepare attorneys on the RTA page under the “Information for Defenders” tab.  We’ve also had some great new interviews on the OJD podcast, including a feature on Dr. Anne Corbin’s book, Dilemma of Duties, which focuses exclusively on attorneys in the N.C. juvenile justice system, and a discussion on juvenile psychological development and evaluations with Dr. Cindy Cottle.

In 2018, the bulk of our outreach efforts have been dedicated to education and the celebration of the passage of RTA, and also establishing relationships with organizations that have interest in the new legislation.  OJD has also met with N.C. Central University’s staff to strategize on how to utilize the technology available through their Virtual Justice Project to assist in outreach for 2019.

Direct Representation

OJD continues to provide direct representation of juvenile clients.  This has allowed our Office to observe and respond to trends in juvenile court as well as continue to have a presence in the courtroom.  OJD has represented juveniles in cases transferred from other districts and been able to identify issues for appeal and base trainings on issues that have arisen in multiple cases in various districts such as proper amendments to charges on petitions and improper dispositional levels.  Collaboration with defenders in other jurisdictions when we have juvenile clients in common has resulted in better outcomes for juveniles with petitions in multiple districts.

New Initiatives

With the implementation of RTA underway, OJD has executed its three-part plan to address the needs of defenders to absorb the increased number of cases.  This includes (1) developing virtual and in-person statewide and local conferences, trainings and presentations to keep defenders informed, (2) proposing a system of dedicated defenders through contracting with local defenders and consulting with public defender offices and contractors to determine the impact of potential increase in caseload, and (3) continuing to work on policy development as it pertains to RTA implementation.  Our office continues to update the RTA page on the OJD website with resources specifically related to the legislation and our plans, including summaries and a compilation of articles, and we will continue to update this page as more materials become available.

OJJDP Grant

Early in 2018, with the anticipated increase in the juvenile caseload once 16- and 17-year-olds enter the juvenile justice system as a result of RTA, OJD and the Office of Indigent Defense Services (IDS) applied for a federal grant offered through the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP).  The plan was to use the grant to help fund efforts to give attorneys access to more specialized training and resources and also increase our capacity for data collection over the next few years.  Fortunately, OJD was awarded the grant and has created the new Project Attorney position to assist in the planning and execution of virtual and in-person training statewide to better address juvenile defenders’ needs.  IDS has also created a new Juvenile Contract Specialist position to assist with the caseload increase.

OJD Week in Review: Jan. 7 – 11

Welcome!  We’re coming into another Friday with fresh tips, job, training, and podcast reminders.  We also have a summary of the first Juvenile Jurisdiction Advisory Committee meeting of 2019, which took place earlier this week.

Tip of the Week – No Cookie-Cutter Dispositions!

Remember – disposition MUST be tailored to your specific client (§7B-2500) – don’t be afraid to argue against “cookie cutter” plans.  For example – if your client has no known drug/alcohol history, why should s/he be subject to random drug screens as part of probation?  Ask your client if s/he hunts – depending on the charge your client was adjudicated for, consider requesting the prohibition against weapons be waived if s/he is hunting with a responsible adult.

Job Opportunities

Today is the last day to apply for the Juvenile Law Center‘s Staff Attorney.  The Staff Attorney will work in a highly collegial atmosphere with attorneys, communications, development, and operations staff, and in partnership with colleagues around the state and country.  The work will include litigation, policy advocacy, public education, media advocacy, legal and non-legal writing, training, technical assistance, coordinating state or national reform efforts including organizing and facilitating meetings, and other duties as assigned.  The Staff Attorney will think strategically about opportunities to advocate for child welfare and justice systems that are developmentally appropriate, racially equitable, and supportive of youth, families and communities.  .  To apply, please go here.

On Dec. 1, Indigent Defense Services (IDS) issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) in Caswell, Person, Alamance, Orange, and Chatham counties.  The current contracts for adult noncapital criminal cases at the trial level and per session court cases in those districts will expire on May 31, 2019 and renew on June 1, 2019.  The RFP (RFP #16-0002R) seeks services for adult noncapital criminal cases at the trial level, juvenile delinquency, abuse/neglect/dependency and termination of parental rights, and treatment courts.  Please note that the RFP will not seek offers for potentially capital cases at the trial level, direct appeals or post-conviction cases.  Also, the juvenile delinquency RFP will only include Caswell, Alamance, and Person counties.  The deadline for electronic offers is Feb. 15.  To access the RFP, please check here.

Training

The deadline for applications for the 2019 Juvenile Training Immersion Program (JTIP) Summer Academy is Sunday, Jan. 13.  The JTIP Summer Academy is an annual seven-day intensive training program comprised of sessions from the JTIP curriculum, developed by the National Juvenile Defender Center (NJDC) in conjunction with experts and practitioners from around the country.  It is intended for attorneys who currently defend youth in juvenile court proceedings.  The Academy is targeted at 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.  The JTIP Summer Academy is co-hosted by the National Juvenile Defender Center (NJDC) and Georgetown Law’s Juvenile Justice Clinic & Initiative.  To apply, please find a PDF version of the application here.

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Save the date!  The 2019 Regional Training for Indigent Defense: Special Issues in Complex Felony Cases will be held on March 21 at the East Carolina Heart Institute at East Carolina University in Greenville, N.C.  The training will focus on topics relevant to criminal law practitioners and is open to IDS contract attorneys and privately assigned counsel.  Participants will receive three general CLE credit hours.  Registration should open later this month.

First JJAC Meeting of 2019

On Tuesday, Jan. 8, at the N.C. Division of Adult Corrections and Juvenile Justice building, the Juvenile Jurisdiction Advisory Committee (JJAC) held their first meeting for 2019.   During the meeting, Committee members summarized the plans for the interim Juvenile Age Report, discussed funding recommendations, next steps in planning and new business.

The meeting began with a greeting and review of the minutes from the previous meeting from Committee co-chairs the Honorable Garry Frank and Bill D. Davis before Deputy Secretary for Juvenile Justice William Lassiter began the presentation on the Juvenile Age Report.  Lassiter stated that the future topics in JJAC would include age-appropriate programming in youth development centers and detention centers, hearing presentations from representatives from other states that have implemented Raise the Age legislation, training of stakeholders across the state, business analytics, videoconferencing, and communication planning.  Lassiter mentioned the Committee was currently working on a grant to aid in establishing videoconferencing capabilities statewide.

Lassiter said in multiple stakeholder forums, resources and legislative changes were the biggest concern brought up in each juvenile district.  In addition to the forums, JJAC is also working on establishing new juvenile facility designs, health services, and education, among other things.  There have already been 65 new positions approved for court services to assist with the expected increase in the juvenile justice system and new data collection software is already being utilized.

RTAThe Housing Transfer Subcommittee submitted several recommendations regarding transportation and pretrial custody of juveniles.  It was also pointed out that the recent federal Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act of 2018 reinforces the Housing Transfer Subcommittees’ recommendation to house all persons less than 18 years of age in an approved Juvenile Justice Section facility when ordered to be held in custody prior to trial or adjudication.  Part of the legislative recommendations from the subcommittees included defining what motor vehicle offenses would be excluded and including a “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard for gang suppression.

During the discussion on the legislative recommendations, concerns were raised about the legislative directive encouraging school-justice partnerships (SJP), agreements among local stakeholders to divert minor school disciplinary behavior from juvenile court.  Eddie Caldwell spoke on behalf of the Sheriff’s Association, stating the organization supports Raise the Age and believes that the juvenile system has more leverage to work with juveniles than the adult system, providing them with resources and services.  However, the consensus among its members is that SJP only keep kids out of the justice system, preventing them from receiving the services they need.  Caldwell said the greatest concern arises from the vagueness of the language and assumption it can be adopted by all local systems statewide.  Chief District Court Judge Jay Corpening, who piloted one of the first partnerships in New Hanover County, responded that while he appreciated Caldwell’s comments, the program was very successful in his jurisdiction, and that the partnership holds youth accountable by providing effective and appropriate responses without court involvement, and that the result was that schools reported as safer environments.  Members of the Committee invited Caldwell to join them in the SJP subcommittee meeting that followed immediately after the full JJAC meeting to further address concerns with the plan.

AOC Chief Business Officer Brad Fowler discussed AOC funding recommendations, pointing out the need for more district court judges, assistant district attorneys, deputy clerks and legal assistants.  OJD’s request for additional funding for a new assistant juvenile defender was also mentioned and Juvenile Defender Eric Zogry also had a chance to introduce OJD’s new Project Attorney to the Committee.

Director of the Conference of District Attorneys Peg Dorer and Juvenile Resource Prosecutor Rachel Larsen later presented on the funding recommendations for their organization, which included making the Juvenile Resource Prosecutor position permanent to aid in statewide training on juvenile court laws and developing new resources.

At the end of the meeting the Committee voted to accept the changes to the draft of the Juvenile Age report, which only included technical changes, such as grammatical and punctuation, but no substantive changes to the report were made.  Following the adjournment of the full Committee meeting, members broke out into subcommittees to discuss next steps in addressing implementation.

New Resources

Just to bring attention to this once more, we wanted to let everyone know that our latest podcast with forensic psychologist Dr. Cindy Cottle is live!  In this new segment, we talk about Roper v. Simmons, what juvenile defenders should know before contacting an evaluator, the impact that involvement in our current juvenile justice system can have on the mental health of youth, and much more.  You can listen to the podcast here.

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That sums up this week!  Please join us over on Twitter and Facebook for other news and updates throughout the week and we will have more to come soon.