OJD and NJDC Host Training to Prepare for Raising the Age

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.

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.”

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.

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



2016 Year in Review

Bringing a close to another eventful year, the Office of the Juvenile Defender would like to highlight some of our achievements throughout 2016:

Contracts & Trainings:

Contracts: There were no new contracts established in 2016, however we made several combined contract visits, incorporating contractors from adjacent districts and encouraging community building among defenders.  We continue to seek new ways to identify future contractors and contract districts.

Trainings:  OJD helped host the Southern Juvenile Defender Center’s Sixth Annual Summit in Charlotte in June, along with partners including the National Juvenile Defender Center, the Council for Children’s Rights, and the N.C. Advocates for Justice.  The day-and-a-half conference focused on the fifth anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court decision J.D.B. v N.C., and featured participants and presenters from the seven-state region.

We were also proud to have collaborated with the Office of Indigent Defense Services and the UNC School of Government in this year’s Intensive Juvenile Defender training, Annual Juvenile Defender training, and two North Carolina Advocates for Justice Roundtable Discussions on Navigating Mental Health Issues in Juvenile Court.  We also provided local district trainings.

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In addition to honoring the upcoming 50th anniversary of the Gault decision, which granted due process rights to children, we are also proud to have taken part in the push to “Raise the Age” in N.C.  This year with the growing support of the Chief Justice’s Commission on the Administration of Law and Justice’s Raise the Age proposal, OJD attended all meetings, assisted with requests from the Commission staff and reported, and participated as a member of the Juvenile Age Subcommittee.

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As part of OJD’s ongoing effort to better communicate with juvenile defenders in the field, this year we introduced Marcus Thompson as our new communications and office manager.  With the creation of this new role and introduction of fresh eyes to the juvenile justice field, we intend to develop more consistent contact with defenders statewide and a stronger social media presence.  Going into 2017, a communications survey will also be distributed to help us coordinate better methods to maintain regular contact with partners and stakeholders going forward.


OJD has also made more effort to connect with defenders in the community by working with partners to provide local training opportunities and holding meetings with regional contractors to discuss strategies on improving practice.

OJD provided consultation with defenders across the state, providing trial assistance, as well as trial strategies and research assistance when requested.  For example, OJD attended a multiday trial, offering assistance with research and witness questions.  OJD has provided draft motions and briefs, advice regarding appeals, dispositional options, as well as case law research to defenders across the state.

This year, OJD also assisted in the rejuvenation of the NC Advocates for Justice Juvenile Defense Section.  Led by Section Chair Valerie Pierce, the section has diversified membership and sponsored local trainings.

New Initiatives:

OJD provides 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 court room.  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.

OJD has partnered with a working group of attorneys from the Office of the Juvenile Defender, the Office of the Capital Defender, the Office of the Appellate Defender, and North Carolina Prisoner Legal Services to assist attorneys who represent juveniles charged with murder and other serious felonies. This group has developed a handout entitled, “Strategies for Litigating Miller Cases.” The handout provides advice for obtaining mitigating evidence, a description of the research that influenced Miller and Montgomery, a discussion of constitutional arguments against life without parole sentences, and much more. The handout also provides hyperlinks to sample motions and other resources that will aid attorneys as they defend their clients in these cases. We will consult with any attorney who would like additional information.


Introducing Kim Howes, New Assistant Juvenile Defender

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Kim Howes just recently joined the Office of the Juvenile Defender as Assistant Juvenile Defender. Prior to joining The Office of the Juvenile Defender, Kim Howes had been in private practice since 2011. Her practice focused on the representation of children involved in juvenile delinquency matters and adult criminal defense. She also worked part time with The Child’s Advocate, a nonprofit organization that represents children involved in high conflict custody cases, as well as children who have been victims or witnesses in criminal matters. Kim most recently co-wrote and co-edited the North Carolina Bar Association’s North Carolina General Practice Deskbook, Vol. 3, Criminal Law, Juvenile Proceedings – Delinquency section. It is scheduled to be published in early 2015. Kim has recently presented at The Child’s Advocate CLE training, “How to Represent a Child in a High Conflict Custody Case.”

Currently, she is a volunteer attorney with Teen Court in Wake County and participates in the WCBA Lawyers in Schools program. Before starting her practice, Kim practiced in the area of family law. Kim graduated from UNC School of Law in 2010. While in law school, Kim was an intern with The Child’s Advocate and The Office of the Juvenile Defender where she worked extensively on the Youth development Center Commitment Project.  She also participated in the UNC Juvenile Justice Clinic under the third year practice rule. Prior to attending law school, her career focused on child advocacy from a holistic and public policy perspective working at Prevent Child Abuse NC and The NC Child Advocacy Institute (currently NC Child) with emphasis on education, juvenile justice, and child abuse and neglect.

Kim is available to provide technical assistance to Juvenile Defenders through individualized case consultations, legal research and providing draft motions for your office. Periodically you may see her in juvenile court in your district as she continues to get to know defenders across the state. You will also be receiving emails from her about statewide defender calls as well as networking opportunities with other juvenile defenders across the state such as the informal lunches that have been hosted for juvenile defenders at the Spring Conference.