OJD Week in Review: Feb. 11 – 15

Happy Friday.  This week we’ve got a new tip, but mostly deadline reminders.  Quite a few deadlines happening today actually…

Tip of the Week – Can I Ask for a Prosecutorial Deferral

Yes!  Prosecutors may dismiss a case with or without leave.  Note that AOC-J-430 provides space for conditions or other agreements in exchange for the dismissal.

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Job Opportunities

Today is the last day to apply for the National Center for State Courts (NCSC)‘s Principal Court Management Consultant position.  This position would be based in one of NCSC’s offices (Denver, CO; Arlington, VA, or HQ in Williamsburg, VA), or possibly teleworking when not traveling.  NCSC is expanding its staff devoted to family and children’s issues and is hoping to get candidates with juvenile justice experience for this position.  To apply and see more details about this position, please check here.

Today will be the last day for electronic offers for the Office of Indigent Defense Services‘ Request for Proposals 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 and renew on June 1.  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.  To access the RFP, please check here.

Training

On March 15, from 10:00 a.m. to 4:45 p.m., the UNC School of Government (SOG) will be hosting the first North Carolina Criminal Justice Summit in the the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Carolina Club.  The Summit will be lead by SOG’s own Professor of Public Law and Government Jessica Smith and will feature national and state experts with broad-ranging ideological perspectives who will discuss key issues capturing attention in North Carolina and around the nation, including bail reform, overcriminalization, and barriers to re-entry, such as fines and fees, the criminal record, and collateral consequences.  Join the conversation as they explore how these issues impact justice, public safety and economic prosperity in North Carolina, and whether there is common ground to address them.  This event will be free to attend, lunch will be provided, and it offers 5 hours of CJE and free CLE credit.  Attendees are responsible for their travel expenses, including a $14 event parking fee.  For those arriving the night before, state rate and discounted rooms at local hotels will be available.  To apply for this course and find more details, please visit here.  Applicants should be notified regarding acceptance by today.

The Office of the Juvenile Defender will be hosting a Juvenile Court Basics CLE on Feb. 27 from 1 to 5 p.m. at the Cumberland County Courthouse.  Assistant Juvenile Defender Kim Howes will be discussing the role of counsel, how to communicate with juvenile clients, dispositions, capacity, appeals, and so much more.  Questions and concerns are welcome.  Four general CLE credit hours are approved for this training.   Please contact Marcus Thompson by email or call 919-890-1650 if you have questions.

From Around the Community

JLWOP PanelOn Monday, Feb. 11, at the Duke Law Building, Duke Law School Professor Brandon L. Garrett and the Duke Criminal Law Society presented their newest study, “Juvenile Life Without Parole in North Carolina”.  Along with a great panel, which included  Assistant Appellate Defender David AndrewsN.C. Prisoner Legal Services Staff Attorney Ben Finholt, and N.C. State Representative Pricey Harrison, the presentation engaged and enlightened the audience about the misuse of juvenile life without parole in N.C.  Garrett was awarded a grant from the Charles Koch Foundation to study evidence to inform criminal justice policy.  Through his research, Garrett prepared the report now available here.  To read our coverage of the event, please check out our blog post here.

And that is the end of the line for this week.  Please check us out on OJD’s Twitter and Facebook for posts throughout the week.

Duke Law Hosts JLWOP Panel

JLWOP Panel

On Monday, Feb. 11, the Duke Criminal Law Society and Duke Law Professor Brandon L. Garrett (pictured speaking at the lectern stand on the right) hosted a panel discussion regarding their newest study, “Juvenile Life Without Parole in North Carolina.”  The panel featured (seated from left to right) David Andrews of the Office of Appellate DefenderBen Finholt of N.C. Prisoner Legal Services,  and N.C. State Representative Pricey Harrison.

The event opened with an introduction of the panel by Garrett, before panelists presented their own perspectives on the issue of juvenile life without parole (JLWOP) and the study released by Garrett and his colleagues.

Harrison emphasized the negative economic impact JLWOP has on N.C.  She reinforced the argument that juveniles could contribute much more to society if given the opportunity to get an education and job, rather than being held in a facility on hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars for a lifetime.

Finholt pointed out the State’s abuse of JLWOP.  “So far, as far as we know with the data we have, there has not been a single JLWOP resentencing hearing where the option of LWOP was on the table and the State has consented to taking it off the table,” he said.  “In every single resentencing hearing where LWOP is an option, the State has sought LWOP.  Every single time.  And I don’t think that matches what the U.S. Supreme Court has told us is supposed to happen in Roper, Graham, Miller, Montgomery.  I think in the whole line, it’s pretty clear that this should be rare.  This should only be used in exceptionally bad circumstances, and I think that is generally the way it has not been handled.”

Andrews also touched on Miller and its implications, disproportionate minority contact, and reform.

“When we talk about juvenile life without parole, we are talking about Miller v. Alabama,” Andrews said.  “What I love about this report that we have now, from Professor Garrett and all the other authors, is that it gives us perspective…  What’s interesting to me is that there is a disproportionate impact that this sentence has on race.  Children of color, these are the individuals who get LWOP.  There is a disproportionate impact on children of color.  We also know from the report that once a county imposes JLWOP, it is more likely to impose that sentence again.  It becomes entrenched.”

Andrews said from the perspective of trial attorneys dealing with JLWOP cases, they should pursue school records, interviews with family members, DSS records, and experts in fields such as adolescent brain science to dissuade a judge from sentencing a child to LWOP.

Andrews posed the question that really hit the core of the issue at hand, asking “Do we really want to sentence kids to die in prison?”

After every panelist had the opportunity to speak and before engaging in a question and answer session with members of the audience, Garrett reiterated the issue.  He pointed out that in the study, one-third of the individuals sentenced to LWOP were not the killers or had no intent to kill, but were convicted under a felony murder theory.

In response to one question about the discussions between legislators regarding juvenile justice, Harrison stated, “There are legislators who are considering continued reforms.  I know that many of us felt like Raise the Age… was an important first step and it took us nearly 15 years to really get on that.  It still needs work and I think that there are legislators interested in that and other juvenile justice issues…  There’s a lot going on.  It’s a different climate right now, but it is a little more conducive to making some of these improvements.”

In regards to Raise the Age and the impact he thought this study could potentially have on possible reforms going forward, Garrett said, “To kind of fix that you need to solve this juvenile life without parole problem.  In some ways it’s about the past.  And I think fixing that problem is a money-saver, but also highlights this moral issue that there should be a possibility of redemption, of rehabilitation for all juvenile sentences…  In some ways it’s a completely different question to Raise the Age.  It’s not about adult court versus juvenile court.  It’s just that there should be meaningful review for long juvenile sentences, no matter what the circumstances.  I think that it’s just a sensible position for the State to have.  It’s the right moral position, it follows the science of juvenile brain development, and it’s not inflexible.”

Garrett stated that the JLWOP study was just one of the projects he and his students were working on, including a traffic court study, parole, and non-juvenile life without parole.  He said this just happened to be one of the first they presented publicly.  To read the report and more from Duke Law’s JustScience Lab, please go here.