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.

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OJD Week in Review: June 17 – 21

Greetings and happy Friday!  This week there is a new tip, a case law update, and the normal reminders.  And because July 2 is rapidly approaching, please note there is still time to apply to become an N.C. State Bar-certified juvenile defender!  If you are interested, please visit the N.C. State Bar Legal Specialization page.  We want to grow the N.C. juvenile defender community!

Case Law Update

Back in January of this year, the Court of Appeals filed an opinion, In the Matter of E.M.  The decision on the case had been stayed pending the State’s petition for discretionary review, which was denied last Friday.  Please be advised that based on this new case law, when faced with any amount of evidence of mental health/developmental disabilities/substance abuse, the trial court has a statutory duty to refer a juvenile to the area mental health services director for a multidisciplinary evaluation.  To review the opinion, please check our Case Summaries List here.  This case can be found in section 15 – Dispositions: Sentencing.

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Tip of the Week – Was the Petition Properly Amended

The court may permit an amendment to the petition when it does not change the nature of the offense charged (N.C.G.S. §7B-2400).  When the amendment changes the nature of the offense, it is a jurisdictional issue that cannot be waived.  So, if you agree to admit to a charge that is not a lesser included offense, the prosecutor needs to dismiss the original petition and file a new petition with the agreed upon new offense.  This doesn’t have to be complicated and can happen in court.  Make sure the court counselor signs and approves the new petition for filing and then you can waive notice and proceed with the admission to the new agreed upon offense.

Job and Fellowship Opportunities

Today is your last chance to apply for the National Juvenile Justice Network (NJJN)‘s executive director position.  The executive director will be responsible for fundraising, strategic planning, communicating with board members, supervising staff, and ensuring that the organization adheres to its intersectional and anti-racist practices and principles in its internal operations.  To see the full job description, please go here.  To apply or if you have questions, please contact NJJN here.

Utah Juvenile Defender Attorneys (UJDA) is seeking applicants for an attorney to join their delinquency defense practice to assist in the representation of young people charged with delinquent offenses resulting in involvement in the juvenile justice system.  UJDA is a small firm whose attorneys collectively have more than 80 years of experience handling juvenile delinquency cases.  This is an excellent opportunity to join a sophisticated nationally recognized delinquency defense firm and work in a dynamic, expanding, and team-oriented atmosphere.  Qualified candidates should have general knowledge of delinquency law and/or criminal law with excellent written and oral communication.  They should also have working knowledge of advocacy techniques, principles of law and their applications, and criminal trial procedures and the rules of evidence.  Qualified candidates should be good standing members of the Utah State Bar.  UJDA values the strength of having a diverse and inclusive work environment, and strongly believes that everyone should feel welcomed and part of our community.  The application deadline is July 5, 2019.  Applications will be reviewed upon receipt, and the position is open until filled.  For more information about the position or the application process, please see details here or contact Monica Diaz by email.

Training

Registration is now open for the 2019 Parent Attorney and Juvenile Defender conferences.  The Parent Attorney Conference will be held Thursday, Aug. 8 and the Juvenile Defender Conference will be held Friday, Aug. 9, and both would begin at 8:30 a.m. each day.  Both conferences, cosponsored by the School of Government and the Office of Indigent Defense Services, will be held at the School of Government on the UNC-Chapel Hill campus, and offer approximately six hours of CLE credit.  The Parent Attorney Conference provides training for attorneys, who represent parents in abuse, neglect, dependency, and termination of parental rights proceedings.  The Juvenile Defender Conference provides training for attorneys who represent children in delinquency proceedings.  Please feel free to download the Juvenile Defender Conference agenda here and the Parent Attorney Conference agenda here.  If you have any questions, please contact Program Manager Kate Jennings, or if you have questions about the course content, please contact Program Attorney Austine Long.

The deadline for online registration of the 2019 Defender Trial School is Tuesday, June 25.  This event, cosponsored by the School of Government and the North Carolina Office of Indigent Defense Services, will be held Monday, July 8, through Friday, July 12, at the School of Government on the UNC-Chapel Hill campus.  Defender Trial School participants will use their own cases to develop a cohesive theory of defense at trial and apply that theory through all stages of trial, including voir dire, opening and closing arguments, and direct and cross-examination. The program will offer roughly 29 hours of general CLE credit.  The Defender Trial School is open to public defenders and a limited number of private attorneys who perform a significant amount of appointed work.  IDS has expanded the number of fellowships available to cover the registration fee, but please note there is a limited number of fellowships.  If you have any questions or would like additional information, please email Kate Jennings or Professor John Rubin or call 919-962-3287/919-962-2498.  To register, find a fellowship application, see the agenda, or find any other information, please check out the course page here.

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That ends our end-of-week report.  Please make sure to subscribe to the OJD blog if you haven’t already and head over to our OJD Twitter and Facebook pages as well to get updates, relevant articles, and other juvenile defense-related content throughout the week!

OJD Week in Review: Oct. 9-13

This week we would like to point out some new resources, upcoming deadlines, and available job opportunities.

Fellowships and Deadlines

Early this week, the North Carolina Judicial Fellowship, a new office within the N.C. Judicial Branch which provides legal support to district and superior court judges, opened applications for several positions.  Currently, the office is accepting  applications for two associate counsel positions and six fellowships for August 2018 to August 2020.  Applications for these positions will close next Friday, Oct. 20, and Nov. 3, respectively.  On Nov. 6, the office will begin accepting applications for two other fellowships serving from January 2018 to August 2019.  The deadline for applications to this fellowship will be Nov. 17.  For more information about any of the positions or to apply, please visit here.  Questions may be directed to Andrew Brown, Director of the N.C. Judicial Fellowship at 919-890-1671 or Andrew.Brown@nccourts.org.

The Northwestern Pritzker School of Law has also opened applications for a two-year clinical fellowship beginning on Jan. 8, 2018.  This will be an immigration law fellowship in the Bluhm Legal Clinic’s Children and Family Justice Center.  The fellow will participate in community outreach, represent youth and parents in immigration court proceedings, and assist in the supervision and teaching of clinical students.  The deadline for applications will be Nov. 15 and all application materials and questions can be submitted to Uzoamaka Emeka Nzelibe.  The full description and requirements for this position can be found here.

New Resources, Fresh Updates, and Media

The National Juvenile Justice Network released a new toolkit on Tuesday which offers suggestions for advocates of juvenile justice to change the narrative of how minority youth are portrayed in the media.  The toolkit discusses social media strategies, methods for establishing relationships with media outlets, and other resources to assist in the prevention of media that criminalizes youth of color.

Campaign for Youth Justice released its newest report this week titled Raising the Bar:  State Trends in Keeping Youth Out of Adult Courts (2015-2017),  which examines states that are creating solutions to prevent children from entering the adult criminal justice system.  The report suggests that since 2005, 36 states have implemented a significant number of laws to protect youth from being treated as adults, even referencing plans to raise the age in multiple states, including North Carolina.  The report highlights the strengths and weaknesses of reform efforts in specific states as well.

CFYJ State Trends

We would also like to bring attention to several videos on Suite 6 LLC’s Vimeo channel, produced in collaboration with Campaign for Youth Justice.  These videos showcase interviews with adults who were incarcerated as juveniles and the parents of children involved in the justice system.   The interviews offer a intriguing perspective of individuals affected by the juvenile justice system.

The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention has recently updated its Statistical Briefing Book to include a Data Snapshot series.  The one-page data sheets reveal stats on subjects such as characteristics/trends in delinquency cases involving Hispanic youth, the continued decline of the juvenile placement population, and frequently asked questions about commitments based on race and ethnicity.  There are also updates to several older resources.  The list for all of the new info can be accessed here.

do-dont-sign-300x296The Council of State Governments also has a great resource that was released last month titled “Do’s and Don’ts For Reducing Recidivism Among Young Adults in the Justice System“.  The document is a concrete and concise list outlining the best strategies for policymakers and leaders in juvenile justice to improve the outcomes for youth involved in the justice system.

And that is all there is for this week!  Juvenile justice advocates are always welcome to lend their voices to our blog or podcast, and don’t be shy about leaving comments and questions for us on our social media pages as well.  We want to have conversations with you all!  We will continue to provide more updates to the news above and other events as they arise, so please be sure to check out our website, Facebook, and Twitter frequently.  And as always, thanks for all that you do!

Forms and Motions Update: Motion for Appropriate Relief

We wanted to notify all juvenile defenders that we have now added a motion for appropriate relief document to our “Trial Motions and Forms Index”.  This document is meant for cases where a juvenile was incorrectly charged in adult court (i.e. gave the police officers a wrong age) and to remove the juvenile’s info from ACIS.  You can find this index page with a complete list of useful resources on the “Materials for Defenders” page located under the “Information for Defenders” tab on our site.  Check back frequently for other updates to this list and more.

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.

#RaisetheAge Provision in the Budget

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By now you may have heard that the House and Senate have agreed in principle on a budget proposal, to be voted on by both chambers likely this week and presented to the Governor.  The bill includes a compromise between the chambers on raising the age of juvenile jurisdiction.  Though not finalized, the provision would have crimes (except motor vehicle offenses) for anyone under 18 begin jurisdiction in delinquency court, with a new procedure that would expedite transfer (after a finding of probable cause or by indictment) for 16- and 17-year-olds charged with A-G offenses.  16- and 17-year-old juveniles charged with H and I felonies would be subject to the current process of discretionary transfer, and 16- and 17-year-olds charged with misdemeanors would be processed in delinquency court.  The section specifically referring to juvenile jurisdiction can be read here, and the full language of the bill can be found here.

Our office is analyzing the details of the proposal.  We will provide our analysis for your consideration once the budget becomes law.

Thanks to everyone for their support of this issue over the years!

OJD Joins Facebook!

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It is our pleasure to announce that as of yesterday the Office of the Juvenile Defender is now on Facebook!  We have heard suggestions from the N.C. juvenile defender community and we have finally created a page for people to have discussions, share their own posts, and leave questions and concerns for us through Facebook now.  We encourage everyone to please like and follow us now at https://www.facebook.com/NCOJD!