OJD Week in Review: Mar. 26 – 30

Even though this is a short week, we’ve got some new updates to share that could be useful to the juvenile defense community in the coming months.

From Around the Community

On Mar. 16, Campbell Law School hosted a Raise the Age luncheon featuring Rep. Marcia Morey and a diverse panel of voices from around the juvenile defense community which included Juvenile Defender Eric ZogryGeneral Counsel and Policy Advisor of the Office of the Lt. Governor Steven WalkerNCGA Legislative Analysis Division Staff Attorney Tawanda Foster, and others.  For anyone interested, there is now video available for the 2-hour event.  Check it out below.

The N.C. Bar Association has posted a new blog discussing our state’s new expunction laws.  This article, written by Tarrah Callahan, executive director of Conservatives for Criminal Justice Reform, and Daniel Bowes, staff attorney at Workers’ Rights Project/ Second Chance Initiative, touches on the difficulty of obtaining expunctions in the past and breaks down the recent changes to the law.  You can read their full article here.

Training

Registration is now open for N.C. Bar Association’s annual meeting, this year titled “The Future of Law”.   This event will be hosted at the Wilmington Convention Center from June 21 – 24.  For those who register before May 1, a President’s Luncheon ticket and 6.0 CLE credit hours will be included with the registration price.  Topics covered will include artificial intelligence, virtual reality, design thinking in the law, and the future of legal service delivery.  For further info and to register please check out the NCBA website and the event brochure.

On May 10, the N.C. Bar Association will be hosting “Raise the Age: A New Era for Juvenile Justice in North Carolina” at the N.C. Bar Center in Cary, from 8:25 a.m. to 3 p.m.  This seminar promises to expand attendees’ understanding of the Juvenile Justice Reinvestment Act and its practical and ethical implications.  Attendees will receive 5.5 CLE credits total, with 1.0 CLE credit in Ethics/Professional Responsibility and 4.5 General CLE credits.  For further details about this event, please check the website here.

Disability Rights North Carolina will be hosting its 2018 Disability Advocacy Conference on Apr. 19.  The conference offers 5.0 CLE credits for lawyers, which includes 1.0 credit hour for substance abuse/mental health awareness.  Sessions include parental rights, restrictive interventions in public schools, guardianship reforms, and a session exclusively tailored to attorneys titled “Recognizing and Responding to a Lawyer with a Mental Health Disorder”, just to name a few.  To learn more about this event and register please visit their web page here.

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Job Opportunities

The National Juvenile Defender Center (NJDC) is currently hiring a strategic communications manager.  The individual in this position will be responsible for crafting organizational messaging, overseeing editorial excellence, and working with leadership to implement a communications strategy that is creative, forward-thinking, and reflective of NJDC’s vision.  This position will remain opened until filled.  To find further info about the position and how to apply, please go here.

The National Center for Youth Law (NCYL) is seeking a mid-level policy attorney to handle youth justice issues in Santa Clara County.  Applications will be accepted through Apr. 15.  For further details and to apply please check here.

The UNC School of Government is seeking a tenure-track full-time permanent assistant professor of juvenile justice and criminal law.  The selected candidate for this position will be expected “to write for, advise, plan courses for, and teach” public officials, including judges, magistrates, law enforcement, prosecutors and defenders.  Applications will remain open until the position is filled.  The expected starting date for the new hire will be July 1.  Please find the full details for the position and how to apply here.

The National Juvenile Justice Network (NJJN) is still accepting applications for its 2018-19 Youth Justice Leadership Institute.  This is an annual year-long fellowship program that selects 10 people of color working as professionals in the juvenile justice field to participate in a curriculum to develop their leadership and advocacy skills.  The fellowship can be completed with the fellows’ current employment, so those selected will not have to leave their jobs to participate in the Institute.  The fellowship will include two fully financed retreats, mentoring and frequent distance learning opportunities.  NJJN will host an informational webinar on Apr. 2 that you can register for here.  Applications for the Institute (found here) must be submitted by Apr. 23.

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This wraps up our short week in review and we just want to wish everyone a safe and happy Easter weekend (or vacation week if we don’t catch you next week)!  Be sure to check back on here again soon!

OJD Week in Review: Mar. 12-16

This week we will primarily be offering reminders for previously mentioned events, training, and job opportunities with a few new updates sprinkled in.

Events Around the Community

raise the age luncheonIf you don’t already have lunch plans today, from 11:45 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. Campbell Law School (225 Hillsborough St., Raleigh, NC 27603) will be hosting a Raise the Age luncheon in Room 105.  This event will feature remarks from Rep. Marcia Morey and a panel discussion focused on the new legislation to raise the age of juvenile jurisdiction .  Panelists will include Juvenile Defender Eric Zogry, General Counsel and Policy Advisor of the Office of the Lt. Governor Steven Walker, Executive Director of Conservatives for Criminal Justice Reform Tarrah Callahan, NCGA Legislative Analysis Division Staff Attorney Tawanda Foster, Chief Executive Officer of Haven House Michelle Zechmann, and Former Executive Director of Capital Area Teen Court Louise Davis.  Boxed lunches (at least 80) will be provided for attendees.

Reminder that the The North Carolina Bar Association Juvenile Justice and Children’s Rights Section will be holding a council meeting on next Thursday, March 22, from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m.  A networking reception will be held directly after the meeting at Whiskey Kitchen on 201 W. Martin St. and appetizers and a cash bar will be provided.  All section members and attorneys who could be members are welcome to attend and may RSVP here.

Job/Fellowship Opportunities

The National Juvenile Defender Center (NJDC) is currently hiring a strategic communications manager.  The individual in this position will be responsible for crafting organizational messaging, overseeing editorial excellence, and working with leadership to implement a communications strategy that is creative, forward-thinking, and reflective of NJDC’s vision.  This position will remain opened until filled.  To find further info about the position and how to apply, please go here.

The East Bay Community Law Center is seeking applicants for a Director to lead its Youth Defender Clinic (YDC).  YDC provides legal representation and advocacy to young people in school discipline and delinquency proceedings, including assisting young people in overcoming barriers to education and employment created by juvenile court records and court-ordered debt.  The Director will lead YDC’s work, which consists of representing clients in juvenile delinquency and school discipline proceedings, supervising and training law students on cases, and engaging in policy advocacy related to court-debt and juvenile probation.  For more information and to apply please check here.  The application deadline is Monday, March 26, 2018.

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The UNC School of Government is seeking a tenure-track full-time permanent assistant professor of juvenile justice and criminal law.  The selected candidate for this position will be expected “to write for, advise, plan courses for, and teach” public officials, including judges, magistrates, law enforcement, prosecutors and defenders.  Applications will remain open until the position is filled.  The expected starting date for the new hire will be July 1.  Please find the full details for the position and how to apply here.

The National Juvenile Justice Network (NJJN) is still accepting applications for its 2018-19 Youth Justice Leadership Institute.  This is an annual year-long fellowship program that selects 10 people of color working as professionals in the juvenile justice field to participate in a curriculum to develop their leadership and advocacy skills.  The fellowship can be completed with the fellows’ current employment, so those selected will not have to leave their jobs to participate in the Institute.  The fellowship will include two fully financed retreats, mentoring and frequent distance learning opportunities.  NJJN will host an informational webinar on Apr. 2 that you can register for here.  Applications for the Institute (found here) must be submitted by Apr. 23.

Training

Disability Rights North Carolina will be hosting its 2018 Disability Advocacy Conference on Apr. 19.  The conference offers five CLE credits for lawyers, including one credit hour for substance abuse/mental health awareness.  Sessions include parental rights, restrictive interventions in public schools, guardianship reforms, and a session exclusively tailored to attorneys titled “Recognizing and Responding to a Lawyer with a Mental Health Disorder”, just to name a few.  To learn more about this event and register please visit their web page here.

That is all we’ve got for you this week.  Be sure to check out our Facebook and Twitter feed for updates during the week as well.  If you are a juvenile defense attorney in North Carolina, please contact us with your name and email to be added to our listserv and feel free to engage in with others in the juvenile defense community through our channels as well.  We will have more info and features for you coming soon.

Campbell Law Hosts Raise the Age Luncheon

raise the age luncheon

Campbell Law School (225 Hillsborough St., Raleigh, NC 27603) will be hosting a luncheon Friday, Mar. 16, from 11:45 a.m. – 1:15 p.m. in Room 105 with a panel discussion focused on the new legislation to raise the age of juvenile jurisdiction .  The event will feature remarks from Rep. Marcia Morey and panelists will include Juvenile Defender Eric Zogry, General Counsel and Policy Advisor of the Office of the Lt. Governor Steven Walker, Executive Director of Conservatives for Criminal Justice Reform Tarrah Callahan, NCGA Legislative Analysis Division Staff Attorney Tawanda Foster, Chief Executive Officer of Haven House Michelle Zechmann, and Former Executive Director of Capital Area Teen Court Louise Davis.  Boxed lunches (at least 80) will be provided for attendees.

Reflections & Foresight on N.C.’s Journey for Juvenile Justice at Raise the Age Victory Celebration

On Thursday afternoon, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., advocates for Raise the Age from across the state of North Carolina (and probably beyond) assembled at Trophy Brewing in Downtown Raleigh for a victory party hosted by the Raise the Age Coalition to celebrate the passing of the new law extending the age of juvenile jurisdiction.  RTA Vic Party crowd

Representatives from many organizations, from Disability Rights N.C. to the state Legislature, were in attendance to celebrate the monumental occasion.  After struggling for more than a decade to make this necessary change to the juvenile justice system, the festivities were well-deserved.  Everyone present seemed to be in good spirits after finally seeing their diligence pay off, but the people who have supported this effort for so long understand that there is still more to be done.

“I believe this is a step in the right direction,” said Tyler Ford, research assistant to Senator Paul Lowe.  “The state can now focus on guiding juveniles in the right direction, but we definitely have a long way to go.”

In the middle of the event, Susanna Birdsong, state policy counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union, called on multiple speakers to share their thoughts and words of encouragement with the crowd.

Brandy Bynum Dawson, associate director for Rural Forward NC, was the first of the speakers, addressing all of the long years of advocacy to make this moment possible in her speech.  “This win is for North Carolina’s youth!” Dawson said.  “Congratulations on never giving up!”

Dawson was followed by Sens. Marcia Morey and Duane Hall, who each spoke briefly about their work in the judicial system before coming to the Legislature.

“This is why I left the bench to go to the Legislature,” Sen. Morey said.  “This is about the kids.  This is about the thousands of kids I would have sentenced as a judge.”

The final speaker for the event, Ricky Watson, co-director of the Youth Justice Project, stated that until the law is fully implemented, the goal would be to increase diversion programs and try to keep kids out of the justice system in the first place, continuing to advance justice for youth in North Carolina.

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Following the presentations from the selected speakers a few others present were kind enough share their thoughts on the new legislation and what it means going forward.

“This is a smart juvenile justice reform that is going to help a lot of kids in North Carolina,” said LaToya Powell, assistant professor of public law and government at the UNC School of Government.

Deana Fleming, assistant legal counsel for the North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts, stated, “I’m just happy to be able to put North Carolina youth on equal footing with the rest of the states.”

“This is only the beginning, there is still work to be done,” said David Andrews, assistant public defender for the N.C. Office of the Appellate Defender.

And while the work to improve the juvenile justice system continues, so do the celebrations for what has been achieved so far.  On Wednesday, August 2, the North Carolina Chamber will be holding its own reception in the Reynolds American Boardroom at 701 Corporate Center Drive, Suite 400 in Raleigh.  The reception will last from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m.  Guests will need to RSVP with Kristy Kappel at kkappel@ncchamber.net.

 

OJD Big Week Wrap-Up: Gault, H280, and Training

It’s been an eventful week for our office and just to keep everyone in the loop on what’s been going on, we’ve prepared a quick summary of the excitement for you here!

Monday, May 15, was the 50th anniversary of In re Gault.  Our office hosted a successful Twitter Town Hall with the help of representatives from the Administrative Office of the Courts, the N.C. Advocates for Justice, ACLU, the Council for Children’s Rights, the N.C. Bar Association, the Office of the Appellate Defender and others.  During the event we GAULTat50_TwitterTownHall_1discussed what it means to fulfill the promise of Gault and the need to raise the age of juvenile jurisdiction in N.C.  Governor Roy Cooper also chimed in using our hashtag, #Gault50NC, and his tweets for  were listed several times on the top tweets in NC!

Prior to the Twitter event, our office also debuted our video discussing Gault and Raise the Age on social media.  The video stars Communications and Office Manager Marcus Thompson and was created in collaboration with Chris Mears of AOC.

Juvenile Defender Eric Zogry also attended the Gault at 50 Gala in Washington, D.C that evening.  During the gala, Eric met with many other leaders in juvenile defense from across the country.

The National Juvenile Defender Center also released its report titled Access Denied: A National Snapshot of States’ Failure to Protect Children’s Right to Counsel, highlighting the shortcomings of states across the country in fulfilling the promise of Gault.

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The Annual Spring Public Defenders and Investigator Conference was held in Charlotte from May 17-19.  This was the first year two juvenile tracks were offered,  with one covering protection from ICE and another on education advocacy.  Our own Assistant Juvenile Defender Kim Howes participated in the conference and also assisted in getting the two juvenile defense courses included this year.  (*applause* Great job, Kim!)

On Wednesday, House Bill 280, the Juvenile Justice Reinvestment Act, had its second hearing in the House.

Rep. Chuck McGrady, Rep Marcia Morey, and others stood to voice their support of the bill.  Arguments made in favor of the bill addressed the need to protect youth from physical assault in adult prisons, higher rates of recidivism among youth incarcerated with adults, the suffering of youth with disabilities in the justice system, and youth being imprisoned in the criminal system for crimes as simple as littering or performing harmless pranks.

Rep. Larry Pittman and others did stand to voice their concerns and opposition to the bill.  Pittman asked fellow representatives to forget that N.C. was standing alone in keeping 15 as the maximum age for juveniles, and “not to go easy on offenders based on age”, but to consider the victims of their crimes instead.  Some representatives only proposed that the bill be amended to include F-I felonies and other minor changes, but still voiced their support for raising the age.  Concerns about recurring gang activity among youth who are given too much leniency in juvenile court were also brought up.  The most common point of opposition seemed to be about the budget.

In closing, McGrady addressed the opposition, saying that there is a budget in place and pointing out that there were more people complaining about the costs than the law itself.  In the end, the bill was passed in a 104-8 vote!

We want to celebrate these successes and also look for more opportunities to improve the juvenile justice system in N.C.  There are still plenty of training events scheduled for the remainder of the year, more work to be done in the protection of children’s rights, and a lot of preparation for when N.C. finally raises the age.  Let’s continue gaining more successes and let us know your thoughts for what could be done going forward!

House Holds Hearing for House Bill 280, Governor Gives Proclamation for Gault

The anniversary is nigh, people, and Gov. Roy Cooper issued his proclamation last week commending May 15th as the 50th anniversary of In re Gault.  This proclamation will soon be added to the N.C. Gault page along with other content.  Check back over the next few days and be prepared to join us May 15 at noon for our Twitter Town Hall, sharing your thoughts and questions on Gault using #Gault50NC!

Gault50NC Twitter Town Hall

In other news, on Wednesday, the N.C. House of Representatives Committee held its first hearing for House Bill 280, the Juvenile Justice Reinvestment Act.  The Committee voted unanimously in favor of passing the bill on to the next phase.

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“Why would one put most juvenile offenders in the adult justice system when only a small percent need to be treated as adults?” asked Rep. Chuck McGrady, one of the primary representatives in support of the bill, acknowledging that only 3 percent of crimes committed by juveniles in N.C. are considered violent.  McGrady also stated that by raising the age of juvenile jurisdiction there would be much lower rates of recidivism for juveniles and lower costs for the state as a whole.

Rep. Allen McNeill suggested an amendment to the bill, citing sections of it that addressed gang activity among youth.  McNeill conveyed his concerns about youth continuing their involvement in gangs after release from juvenile detention, referring to his own experiences in law enforcement.  One other representative raised concerns for the need to include F-I felonies in the amendment as well, since current gang recruitment acts would fall into those categories  (the current bill only automatically sends juveniles to the criminal justice system for class A-E).  No amendments have been made yet.

Several other supporters of H280 stood to voice their thoughts on the need to raise the age including N.C. Child’s Adam Sotak, Youth Justice Project’s Ricky Watson, Jr., and Commissioner Brenda A. Howerton.  Howerton, who is president-elect of the North Carolina Association of Counties, pointed out the success of diversion programs for youth specifically in Durham County while emphasizing her support for raising the age.  One speaker likened a criminal record for a juvenile to a “scarlet letter” that prevents them from obtaining significant opportunities as adults, even for nonviolent offenses.  It was also stated by one prosecutor that the role of a prosecutor is not to just gain convictions, but to actually keep communities safe and uphold the constitutionality of the law.

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“If we [raise the age of juvenile jurisdiction] the sky will not fall and we will see the benefits,” said Gwendolyn Chunn, former president of the American Correctional Association and former executive director of the Juvenile Justice Institute.  Chunn related the moment to a religious experience and she stated that N.C. is not a hotbed for crime, but a very progressive state that needed this change.

Karen Simon, director of Inmate Programs at the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office, said that youth in the adult system are at risk of being put into solitary confinement, which is shown to have detrimental effects on the mental health of prisoners, especially juveniles.  “Think not of a faceless group of 16- and 17-year-olds,” Simon said, “but think of your own kids.”

Rep. Marcia Morey, a former chief district court judge, said that not all felonies can be treated the same, and reduction in cases and adjustments are possible.

“We need to give every young person the opportunity to reach their full potential,” said Rep. Bob Steinburg.  “…with the current laws, we might as well hand them their death sentences.”

The bill was introduced to the House Appropriations Committee on Thursday morning, and while there was some opposition to it this time, it was passed in the Committee with a strong majority and is expected to be heard on the House floor later in May.  If it continues to pass into law, H280 will take full effect in 2019.

 

Chief Justice Addresses #RaisetheAgeNC Again at Press Conference

On Monday, Chief Justice Mark Martin held a press conference at the N.C. Legislative Building to offer updates and remind the public of the importance of North Carolina raising the age of juvenile jurisdiction.  Martin and other speakers revisited the benefits of the Juvenile Justice Reinvestment Act, House Bill 280, which was introduced in March, and echoed the recommendations on juvenile justice reinvestment presented in the North Carolina Commission on the Administration of Law and Justice’s final report.

As expected, after the attention H280 received in March and the recent move by New York to raise the age of juvenile jurisdiction, there was tremendous support again for N.C. to move forward with the bill.  Judge Martin was joined by Former Rep. Tom Murry, Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison, Former Lt. Gov. James Gardner, Superintendent of Public Instruction Mark Johnson, Former Chief District Court Judge Marcia Morey, who now has a seat in the N.C. House of Representatives, along with several others in support of raising the age.

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Chief Justice Martin stated that over 90 percent of parents thought that the maximum age for juvenile jurisdiction was already 18, and while there are 11 counties where young people are diverted to the juvenile system, 89 still remain where they are not.

Comparisons were made to other states, illustrating the disadvantages youth in N.C. face when measured against states such as Tennessee, where young people under the age of 18 are not automatically turned over to criminal court for minor offenses.  Former Lt. Gov. Gardner even pointed out how competitive the job market already is for young people today, whether they have been involved in the justice system or not, referring to his grandson who is an Eagle Scout with no criminal record.

Sheriff Harrison stated that he believed raising the age is needed in N.C., but he also acknowledged that money would be needed to make the necessary transitions.  He emphasized his belief in the Juvenile Justice Reinvestment Act saying, “I think this initiative will stop some crime… I know it will.”

Murry drove home the point, saying, “We already have Raise the Age in every state.  Now we need to bring the promise to N.C.

Additionally, with the anniversary of In re Gault close at hand, William Lassiter, Deputy Commissioner of Juvenile Justice at the N.C. Dept. of Public Safety stated, “The Gault decision was one of the precursors to raising the age.  It really has effected how the juvenile justice system has been set up in our country, and North Carolina is kind of lagging behind because we haven’t raised the age.  So, it would be sweet justice if we could pass Raise the Age on the 50th anniversary of Gault.”