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

RTA

 

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!

facebook

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!

New Updates: Case Summaries and “The Kavanaugh Review”

We have recently added the latest published opinion from the N.C. Court of Appeals, In re T.K.  This opinion can be located in our “Case Summaries” file on the “Materials for Defenders” page.  The information from this published opinion pertains to the use of petitions and disorderly conduct.

We would also like to note that Dr. Antoinette Kavanaugh, a veteran forensic clinical psychologist who has specialized in juvenile justice among other things, has published two new articles.  One article titled “The Prospects for Developing Expert Evidence in Juvenile Montgomery Resentencing Cases“, written in collaboration with Dr. Thomas Grisso, is meant to “help juvenile defense counsel understand the types of developmental evidence that can be used in juvenile Montgomery re-sentencing cases, explain the benefits and limitations of retaining an expert trained in developmental, psychological or clinical sciences to assist counsel in defense of their clients and what those experts can be expected to provide.”  The second article is called “When Are We Going to Launch Gault 2.0“and discusses the necessary evolution of the laws established by Gault based on empirical evidence in the last fifty years.  These two articles have been published by the Pennsylvania Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers in their online quarterly, For the Defense, and The Champion magazine, a publication by the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, respectively.

 

Forms and Motions Update: Motion and Order to Seal Records

We have recently updated our “Forms and Motions” section on our “Materials for Defenders” page with a new version of “Motion and Order to Seal Records“.  A new document is available for review and to download at your convenience.  Please feel free to check out the other resources we have available as well.