Forms and Motions Update

We have recently updated our Trial Motions and Forms Index to include a few useful documents from the Office of the Appellate Defender.  There is one new form, and several new entries on the list of motions, but the newest entries can be found at the top of each list.  These new additions include a new handout for juvenile specific jury instructions and a handout for extending Miller and Roper to 18- to 25-year-olds. There are also motions to prevent the State from seeking life without parole or the death penalty in cases where clients are prosecuted as adults for crimes committed in their youth, a motion for discretionary transfer hearing, and a motion to prevent the State from pursuing a felony murder conviction.  Please check out our Trial Motions and Forms Index here or explore the Office of the Appellate Defender‘s page.


Registration is Now Open for “The Advocating for Youth Charged with First Degree Murder” Training

We are excited to announce that the School of Government and the Office of Indigent Defense Services will be cosponsoring a new course titled “The Advocating for Youth Charged with First Degree Murder”. This training will be held on March 9, 2018 at the UNC School of Government.

This special topics training is for attorneys who represent youth in juvenile or superior court. It will include topics that address sentencing, mitigation, parole hearings, transfer hearings and a discussion about the future of Miller cases. The training will offer 5.75 CLE Hours.  Here you will find a copy of the agenda.

Check-in will be on Friday, March 9, 2018 from 8:00 a.m. to 8:45 a.m., at which time the program will begin. The program ends at 4:15 p.m.

REGISTRATION: To register online, as well as to find directions and other program information, please visit the UNC School of Government website.

The registration fee for the training is $165.  The online registration deadline is 5:00 p.m. on FRIDAY, March 2, 2018. There is no onsite registration.

HOTEL INFORMATION: A block of rooms has been set up at the Holiday Inn Express Chapel Hill. The rate is $80 per night and includes a full deluxe hot breakfast, high speed wireless internet access and local shuttle service. To reserve a room online please visit and use the group code JPM. To reserve a room by phone please call the hotel directly at 919.489.7555, provide your arrival / departure dates and the group code JPM. You are responsible for making your own hotel reservation. The reservation deadline for the block rate is February 15, 2018. After this date, guests will be accommodated on a space-available basis and may not be able to obtain the group rate.

TRAVEL REIMBURSEMENT – IDS STATE EMPLOYEES ONLY: If you are an IDS employee, your eligibility for travel reimbursement at the state rate is contingent upon state rules and regulations. For all questions regarding travel reimbursement, please contact Elisa Wolper—Chief Financial Officer at IDS—at 919.890.1643. Please note travel reimbursement forms must be submitted to IDS Financial Services within 30 days of travel or reimbursement will be denied.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: We look forward to seeing you in March.  If you have any questions or would like additional information, please contact me, Susan Jensen – Program Manager – at or 919-962-0940, or Austine Long – Program Attorney for the Indigent Defense Education – at or 919.962.9594.

New Resources for Miller and Transfer Cases

Earlier this year, the Supreme Court of the United States issued its opinion in Montgomery v. Louisiana, 193 L. Ed. 2d 599, 622 (2016), which made the holding of Miller v. Alabama, 183 L. Ed. 2d 407, 424 (2012), retroactive. Miller, of course, held that mandatory life without parole sentences for juvenile defendants violate the Eighth Amendment ban on cruel and unusual punishment. However, Miller also laid the groundwork for the Court’s determination in Montgomery that a discretionary life without parole sentence also violates the Eighth Amendment “for a child whose crime reflects ‘unfortunate yet transient immaturity.’” Montgomery, 193 L. Ed. 2d at 619 (quoting Miller, 567 U.S. at ___, 183 L. Ed. 2d at 424).

To help attorneys prepare for these hearings, 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 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.

However, for the juvenile defense bar, the handout’s usefulness is not limited to cases involving litigation of a life without parole sentence for a juvenile who is 16 or 17 years old or a 13-, 14-, or 15-year-old who has been transferred to superior court on a first degree murder charge. Many juvenile defense attorneys have to defend their 13-,14-, and 15-year-old clients from discretionary transfer to the adult system if they have been charged with a serious felony and the district attorney requests transfer. The handout provides arguments and resources that can be used to argue against transfer during the discretionary transfer hearing. Counsel should follow the advice in sections III, IV, and VI in the handout to present a comprehensive view of the juvenile to the court and argue that the juvenile should remain in juvenile court in order to receive treatment and rehabilitation that is unavailable in superior court.

If you are appointed to handle a case involving a new first-degree murder charge against a juvenile client or your client may be subjected to discretionary transfer, please be sure to review the handout, which is available in the “Transfer Hearings” section on the Office of the Juvenile Defender website and the “Litigation Guides” section on the Appellate Defender website. In addition, if you are interested in joining a listserv about Miller issues, please send an email to David Andrews, Assistant Appellate Defender, at The listserv will enable attorneys in the working group to post new appellate court decisions on Miller issues and provide a forum for questions on Miller cases. Finally, please stay tuned for announcements on training events for Miller cases. Over the next several months, the working group will develop presentations on Miller issues and will work to share those presentations to attorneys across the state.