OJD Week in Review: Jan. 15-19

Good afternoon N.C. Juvenile Defender Community.  It has been a rather eventful week, depending on where you are, and we hope everyone is still warm and safe.  This week we would like recap a few important things.

ICYMI

Earlier in the week, Assistant Appellate Defender David Andrews offered a great breakdown of the updated North Carolina Juvenile Defender manual, the first new edition since 2008.  The new manual offers defenders instruction based on changes to the Juvenile Code over the past decade, including sections on procedures for suppression motions and Raise the Age legislation, along with expanded sections on other topics covered in the original.  Andrews co-wrote the new manual along with John Rubin, Albert Coates Professor of Public Law and Government at the UNC School of Government.  Please take a moment to read David’s article here and access the new manual on the School of Government’s website.

RTA

Also, earlier in the week our office released our “2017 Year in Review”, highlighting some of the juvenile defense community’s biggest achievements in the past year, including the passage of Raise the Age and commemorating the 50th anniversary of In re Gault.  In our post we also provide our plan going forward to evaluate contracts and provide training in response to the increase in juvenile jurisdiction.  To read our brief on some of our successes and plans from 2017, please check out our article here.

Quick Reminders

The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) will be supporting National Drug and Alcohol Facts week, sponsored by the National Institute on Drug Abuse and National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.  From Jan. 22-28, these organizations will be supporting community events nationwide and beyond that bring people together, from adolescents to experts, to discuss alcohol and drug abuse.  The National Institute on Drug Abuse will be providing free booklets about how to deal with drug abuse, in addition to other educational resources.

OJJDP will also be accepting nominations for their 2018 National Missing Children’s Day awards until Jan. 24.  They are seeking nominees for their Missing Children’s Citizen Award and Missing Children’s Child Protection Award.  These awards are meant to recognize private individuals who helped to recover a missing/abducted child and professionals, such as law enforcement officers and child protective service agents, who have worked to protect children from abuse and victimization.  For further details and to submit your nominations, please check here.

That will be all for now, but warmer weather, better days, and more news are ahead!  Don’t forget to check back early and often and follow us on Facebook and Twitter as well.

 

2017 Year in Review

Another year gone, some great milestones achieved, and the Office of the Juvenile Defender (OJD) would like to highlight a few of those accomplishments from 2017:

Legislation

This was a monumental year for juvenile justice legislation as we celebrated the 50th anniversary of In re Gault and the passage of Raise the Age in N.C.

Raise the Age: In regards to raising the age of juvenile jurisdiction, OJD met with advocates and stakeholders to develop strategies for bill passage and worked with the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) Legal Counsel to draft, edit, and respond to amendments to the legislation.  OJD responded to legislators and staff with questions about the legislation and we have developed a three-part plan to address the needs of defender services to absorb the increased number of cases.

Gault:  The Supreme Court’s decision in Gault granted due process rights to children, which essentially created the occupation of juvenile defenders, and due to the new legislation passed in our state, North Carolina will not be the last state to automatically treat 16- and 17-year-olds as adults.  OJD collaborated with the National Juvenile Defender Center (NJDC) and AOC to commemorate the fifty years since the Gault decision.

GAULTat50_TwitterTownHall_1

As part of our campaign to raise awareness about Gault, OJD worked with NJDC to create a webpage specifically for events in N.C. related to the celebration and to bring attention to N.C.’s commitment to fulfilling the promise of Gault.  On our own website and the UNC School of Government’s blog, in collaboration with LaToya Powell, OJD co-wrote a series of blogs on the legal impact of Gault on North Carolina law.  We also attempted to rally juvenile justice advocates to petition Google to create a Gault-inspired Doodle for May 15, the official anniversary of the decades-old decision, and encouraged other community leaders to solicit the media with op-eds and offer presentations of their own, such as the Council for Children’s Rights.  We also worked with the Governor’s Office to create a gubernatorial proclamation.  On the day of the anniversary, we launched our first Twitter Town Hall event with the hashtag #Gault50NC and we attended a gala in honor of the occasion hosted by NJDC in Washington, D.C.

With the assistance of AOC, we also created a video discussing the impact of Gault and the need for Raise the Age legislation in N.C.

Contracts & Trainings

Contracts:  There were no new contracts established in 2017, however with the passage of Raise the Age, OJD plans to 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, brainstorm, etc.

Trainings: This year, OJD was proud to have held several successful trainings in various districts including Districts 7, 19, 8, and 1.  We had the pleasure of collaborating with the N.C. Advocates for Justice, UNC School of Government, and others once again to bring together new and veteran juvenile defenders in different lectures and interactive training activities across the state.

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.

Outreach

This year we’ve tried to bring new life to the OJD website, encouraging more guest blogs, getting our own domain, and exploring new avenues to engage the juvenile defender community through social media.  Since last year, OJD has seen the subscriptions on our blog more than double from the 190 we initially had prior to Marcus Thompson coming on board in our new communications and office manager position.  We have also had significant growth in our audience on social media, which has been very useful in raising awareness of what our office and the North Carolina juvenile defense community aspires to do and has accomplished.  With assistance from the media team at AOC, OJD has developed a podcast, which we hope to continue to produce in order to keep all stakeholders informed.  An OJD Facebook page has also been created in order to keep stakeholders engaged and facilitate conversation about current events related to juvenile defense around the country.

New Initiatives

With the implementation of Raise the Age underway, OJD has developed a three-part plan to address the needs of defenders to absorb the increased number of cases.  This includes (1) developing statewide and local conferences, trainings, and presentations to keep defenders informed, (2) proposing a system of dedicated defenders through contracting with local defenders, and (3) consulting with public defender offices and contractors to determine the impact of potential increase in caseload.  Our office has also created a page on the OJD website with resources specifically related to Raise the Age, including summaries of the legislation and a compilation of articles, and we will update this page as more materials become available.  Additionally, OJD has been appointed to or assisted committees in response to the new legislation including the Governor’s Crime Commission, AOC JWise Attorney Access workgroup, and the new Juvenile Jurisdiction Advisory Committee created by the new law.

Save the Date: NCCRED Syposium

The North Carolina Commission on Racial and Ethnic Disparities (NC-CRED), the Wake Forest Journal of Law & Policy, and the Wake Forest School of Law Criminal Justice Program, present “The New Law and Order: Working Towards Equitable and Community-Centered Policing in North Carolina” on Friday, Nov. 3, 2017, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., in the Worrell Professional Center, Room 1312. The event is free and open to the public.  Approval for up to four hours of Continuing Legal Education (CLE) credit from the North Carolina Bar Association is pending approval.  The event is also scheduled to be a live webcast.

NC-CRED is a diverse group of criminal justice stakeholders—judges, police chiefs, district attorneys, public defenders, scholars and community advocates, who work collaboratively to identify, document and reduce racial disparities in North Carolina’s criminal justice system.  The symposium will bring together law enforcement, practicing attorneys, scholars and community advocates to discuss equitable reforms to address racial disparities in policing in North Carolina.

Wake U

NCCRED Pic

New L&O

From a Non-Lawyer Perspective: 2017 Juvenile Defender Conference Review by Marcus Thompson

On Friday, Aug. 11, juvenile defenders from across N.C. united at the U.N.C. School of Government for the 2017 Juvenile Defender Conference — and I had the honor of being among the 50+ attendees!  Only approaching my first full year as a part of the Juvenile Defender family, I was pretty excited to be able to attend this annual conference and observe juvenile defenders from various districts interact and share ideas and experiences from their time in juvenile court.  In my short time with the Office of the Juvenile Defender, I have  had the opportunity to learn about case law, the “lawyer lingo”, and other things, but this training was a great experience to not only refresh my memory of materials I’ve encountered before, but to also gain further insight into the juvenile justice system.

Program Attorney Austine Long started the event, welcoming everyone and encouraging defenders to offer suggestions for future training courses before introducing Martin Moore, assistant public defender of Buncombe County.

Moore discussed detention hearings, going over the types and culture of detention, secure custody and strategies for preparing for hearings.  Moore acknowledged that some areas of the state do not always follow their own guidelines for detention hearings.  “No one is in a better position to help the juvenile than themselves,” Moore said, emphasizing to attendees the importance of listening to the client and knowing as much as possible about their history, mental health state, and relationships when preparing for hearings.  When he posed a question to the audience about juveniles being placed in adult facilities for pre-adjudication secure custody (which violates G.S. 7B-1905), some defenders stated that this is often a result of juveniles having lied about their age, which initially surprised me.  I would have assumed in some cases it may have been the error of the police.  One participant also stated that juvenile defenders should ensure that juveniles’ info is redacted if they are placed in an adult facility for any reason.  On the topic of shackling during secure custody hearings, Moore also stated that it was “generally something we should argue against” and others concurred, pointing out the most effective argument with judges was that shackling a child would require more paperwork.  Towards the end of his presentation, Moore gave attendees a couple of hypothetical scenarios and allowed them to role play to demonstrate how they argue on behalf of a client in a detention hearing.

Following Moore, Mary Stansell, assistant public defender of Wake County, and Assistant Juvenile Defender Kim Howes presented on motions to suppress.  The pair addressed In re Gault, what qualifies as custodial interrogation, children’s understanding of their rights, and violations of 4th amendment rights.  Stansell and Howes stressed that a statement can’t be used against a child in custody unless a parent is there, but children believe that the “right to remain silent” means “until a cop asks a question”, most likely due to being naturally submissive to adults and intimidated by authority figures.  The cases of Saldierna and J.D.B. were also addressed while discussing juveniles’ voluntary waiver of rights.  Identification of juveniles in court and search and seizure were also brought up before attendees were broken out into groups to work on a case study.

After lunch was provided, Terri Johnson, an attorney from Statesville, took the lead to discuss capacity, covering statutes, cases, and how to handle evaluations and issues.  Johnson emphasized looking for indicators of capacity such as age, nature and location of the offense, language barriers and a history of social, mental, or physical health issues.  She also talked about finding experts to evaluate a client’s capacity to proceed in court and common arguments made by assistant district attorneys and juvenile court counselors.  One common argument was that juveniles were manipulative and would lie simply to avoid getting into trouble.  Johnson also said that sometimes judges will commit juveniles due to lack of options or because they believe that just putting juveniles on probation will get them the mental health treatment that they need.  Having no interactions with the legal system in my teenage years beyond a couple of traffic violations, it was kind of disheartening to hear that this was the way people, especially kids with various problems, were perceived and treated in the courts.

Once Johnson finished her segment, LaToya Powell, assistant professor of public law and government for the U.N.C. School of Government, arrived to discuss updates to juvenile law in the past year.   I was very familiar with all of the cases that Powell discussed, having read her opinions and writing case summaries for our office, but the review of these cases was welcomed.  Powell succinctly summarized many of the most impactful cases, including Saldierna, T.K.D.E.P.  and the recent Raise the Age legislation.  While addressing Saldierna, Powell stated that a juvenile cannot waive the right to have a parent or attorney present during questioning due to special protections provided under General Statute 7B-2101.  After reviewing the whole series of decisions from SaldiernaPowell also noted that as of Aug. 3rd, the State had filed a motion for temporary stay on the case.  Once she summarized some of the other recent appellate court decisions, Powell went on to discuss the Juvenile Justice Reinvestment Act, pointing out the benefits to everyone involved in the juvenile justice system, but also addressing some potential issues with the new laws, such as conflicting terms in the new gang suppression section with current criminal gang suppression rules.

Finally, James Drennan, adjunct and former Albert Coates professor for the U.N.C. School of Government, took the podium to lead the ethics portion of the training.  This part of the training was more like the psychology/philosophy class I wish I had during my college years and was applicable not only to juvenile defense, but all professions.  Drennan discussed implicit biases, which he said exists “in all of us.  No one is immune to it.”

“There is an elemental, primal need to feel like you are being treated fairly,” Drennan said after showing a video of two monkeys being rewarded, one with grapes and the other with cucumbers (resulting in its frustration) for performing the same task.  He shared statistics and reports that showed fairness is what is most desired in our court system by people, but more people from various backgrounds perceive the justice system as unfair to minorities.

Drennan also engaged attendees in several exercises to test their perception, demonstrating our fast-thinking and slow-thinking processes and how our intuitive feelings and programming from a young age affects our judgment.   Drennan spoke about how his own southern upbringing taught him to accept racial disparities as a norm and certain behaviors were maligned by the society he grew up in, and despite his life experiences, these ideas instilled in him from his youth still linger, unable to be unlearned.  He also said that controlling our fast-thinking processes when interacting with new groups or individuals and observing the patterns in our decision-making processes are important to help us to avoid our own prejudices.

Every presentation was engaging and surprisingly easy to follow, even for someone like myself, without a background in law.  While I’ve only observed a few juvenile court cases, it was good to know how other defenders prepare to present their juveniles’ cases and what must be considered prior to going in front of the judge.  It also provided clarity for me about the challenges from all sides that juvenile defenders must deal with inside and outside the courtroom.  It was also great being able to put more faces to the names I’ve seen in the past few months.  After this first year, I look forward to the 2018 Juvenile Defender Conference, and I hope to hear from and see more of the front line defenders.

If you missed the conference or would just like to review the presentations, you can find a copy of the course materials with additional references here.

Raise the Age Page is Now Live!

Now that the efforts to change the laws regarding juvenile jurisdiction have finally succeeded, we have created a new page on our website specifically for Raise the Age!  There is still plenty to be done, and our office is now compiling information about the new law all in one place for your convenience.  The Raise the Age page contains summaries of Senate Bill 257, media content created by our office, and links to other resources, including articles from Tamar Birckhead, Professor LaToya Powell, and Campaign for Youth Justice.  The new page can be found under the “Information for Defenders” tab.  New sections will be added as each part of the new law is implemented and our office develops new plans and training to assist juvenile defenders, so check back often!

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Job Opportunity: Contracts Administrator for Indigent Defense Services

 

The Office of Indigent Defense Services seeks a qualified Contracts Administrator to develop, negotiate, 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.  (Please find the basic job description and requirements below, or for more info and to apply, please visit here.)

Responsibilities include but are not limited to the following:

  • Assist in evaluation of proposals received in response to RFPs, including coordinating the selection committee(s).
  • For small contracts not subject to the RFP requirements, work with Regional Defenders, local bars, and judicial officials to identify qualified attorneys and to develop and enter into contracts on behalf of IDS.
  • Establish quality and cost measures to evaluate contracts.
  • Monitor case reporting systems; work with IDS’ Information Technology Director to maintain and enhance an on-line contractor case reporting system; and collect and analyze data from contractors.
  • Develop appropriate policies governing contractors and staff relevant committees of the Indigent Defense Services (IDS) Commission that deal with issues relevant to contracts.
  • Monitor payments to contractors and assist with resolving problems or disputes with contractors; and work with Regional Defenders to monitor attorney performance through data analysis and site visits.
  • Assist with developing lists of qualified attorneys for appointment on a case-by-case basis and supervising, evaluating, and monitoring indigent representation around the state.
  • Draft and enter contracts related to general IDS office operations as needed; and perform other duties as assigned.

The successful candidate will be flexible and able to work well with a multi-disciplinary team.

This position reports to the IDS Assistant Director and requires occasional travel across the state.
Knowledge, Skills and Abilities / Competencies

Knowledge of:  the NC judicial system; criminal sentencing; methods of providing legal services to indigent defendants and respondents; and contracts and contract administration.

Skills in:  contract management; developing service delivery systems and identifying the infrastructure to support those systems; both quantitative and qualitative data analysis; database development and long-term management; on-line survey programs such as SurveyMonkey; and Microsoft Excel.

Ability to:  effectively communicate in oral and written form; establish and maintain excellent interpersonal relationships; learn new programs and systems; work well with a multi-disciplinary team; and effectively work with groups of diverse interests.

Minimum Education and Experience Requirements

Management prefers candidates with a Juris Doctorate from an ABA accredited law school with a license to practice law in North Carolina or Master’s Degree in Public Administration or related field and three (3) years of relevant experience. Management will consider applicants with a four-year college/university degree and five (5) years of relevant experience.  Relevant experience includes:

  • managing contracts for a public defense, criminal justice, or public sector organization; or oversight of management systems for a public defense, criminal justice, or public sector organization.
  • experience in the defense of criminal or other cases under IDS’ oversight is a plus.

Describe in your cover letter a new software system or application you learned in the past year and how you went about learning the new software system or application.  Your cover letter should also describe any experience you have with the design, use, or evaluation of work-related databases or other software tools.

Attach cover letter,  résumé, and the names and contact information for two (2) professional references.
 

 

Time to Apply for the Juvenile Delinquency Specialization Exams

Legal Specialization │ Apply now through June 30th for board certification in juvenile delinquency law.  The 2017 exam is scheduled in both Charlotte and Raleigh If you are a prosecutor, public defender or public service lawyer, you may qualify for an NC LEAF scholarship to cover the specialization application fee. Contact Denise Mullen at 919-719-9255 or dmullen@ncbar.gov for more information or access an application HERE.

You can also obtain more information about the standards for specialization and the program itself, please check here.