Category: Juvenile Justice & Children’s Rights (page 1 of 2)

Raising the Age Raises Questions. This CLE Has Answers.

By Peggy Nicholson

Over the next two years, North Carolina’s juvenile justice system will undergo some of the most significant changes in its history. Chief among these changes is the implementation of Raise the Age legislation (Juvenile Justice Reinvestment Act) that will expand juvenile court jurisdiction to include most 16- and 17-year olds by December 2019. While raising the age will result in better outcomes for children, it will also result in many changes to the juvenile system and create a ripple effect across the state’s courts and other youth-serving systems.

On May 10, the Juvenile Justice and Children’s Rights Section will host a CLE at the Bar Center in Cary to answer many of the questions about Raise the Age and discuss some of the wide-ranging impacts. This CLE, entitled “Raise the Age: A New Era for Juvenile Justice in North Carolina,” is intended not just for attorneys who practice in juvenile court, but for any attorney whose practice might be impacted by the new legislation, including those practicing in the areas of criminal justice, education, child welfare, mental health, or government.

Sessions include:

  • An overview of North Carolina’s juvenile justice system including a summary of the recently passed Juvenile Justice Reinvestment Act.
  • A panel of court actors from one jurisdiction, including a defense attorney, prosecutor, and two judges, discussing how Raise the Age will impact them at the local level and how they are preparing for those impacts.
  • A panel of attorneys from different youth-focused systems (child welfare, education, and mental health) discussing how changes to juvenile court will impact their areas of practice.
  • An overview of school-justice partnerships, local agreements aimed at reducing the number of school-based court referrals, which are being expanded across the state pursuant to the new Raise the Age law.
  • An ethics session on representing children in adult court, which is especially important since children age 16 and older will continue to go to adult court until December 2019 and, even after that, will still be in adult court in certain circumstances.

These sessions are intended to be informative to both juvenile court novices and seasoned child advocates and will provide opportunities for questions and discussion. Attendees will receive 5.5 hours of CLE credit, including 1 ethics hour.

The Juvenile Justice & Children’s Rights Section will also hold its annual meeting on May 10 and invites CLE participants to attend. During the meeting, the Section will announce the inaugural recipient of The Children’s Champion Award, which is bestowed upon a member of the Section who is a true champion for North Carolina children and youth.

Interested attorneys and advocates should register soon and get 10 percent off the registration fee (until May 3). Click here to register or for more information.


NC’s New Expunction Law Offers Juvenile Offenders a Fresh Start

By Tarrah Callahan and Daniel Bowes


When prosecutors, defense attorneys, people with criminal records and advocates from the right and left agree on a criminal justice policy reform, one can have a fairly strong degree of confidence in the measure. Last year, Session Law 2017-195: Expungement Process Modifications enjoyed such widespread and bipartisan support as it moved through the General Assembly and was quickly signed into law by Gov. Cooper.

Session Law 2017-195: Expungement Process Modifications enjoyed broad bipartisan support as advocates across the political spectrum recognize that once a person has paid their debt to society, saddling an individual with a criminal record that triggers a wide range of collateral consequence is antithetical to a system that purports to support opportunity and individual responsibility.


Expungements have been exceedingly rare in North Carolina, in part because of narrow eligibility and in part because of the complicated process that bars the average person from applying for an expunction without representation by counsel. The modifications made by S445 represent an important and necessary step for our state as North Carolina’s waiting periods and limitations on expunctions were well out of step with other states.

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Racial Equity Report Cards Expose Disproportionate Discipline Rates in NC Schools

From the Youth Justice Project

The Youth Justice Project of the Southern Coalition for Social Justice has released Racial Equity Report Cards for each of the state’s 115 school districts and one for the state as a whole. The Report Cards, released in January, use public data on academic achievement, school discipline and juvenile court involvement to provide a snapshot of a community’s school-to-prison pipeline, including any racial disproportionalities that exist in the pipeline.

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What Happens Next With Raise the Age In North Carolina?

By Marcus Thompson

On Thursday, Jan. 11, the N.C. Juvenile Jurisdiction Advisory Committee (JJAC) met for its second meeting since the passage of the Juvenile Justice Reinvestment Act. During the meeting, several presenters addressed the committee with research data and considerations for the juvenile justice system prior to and after the changes to the law are implemented.

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Takeaways From the National Juvenile Defender Leadership Summit

By Eric Zogry

From Oct. 19 through Oct. 22, I attended the 21st Annual National Juvenile Defender Leadership Summit in Albuquerque, N. M. The Summit, presented by the National Juvenile Defender Center, brings together hundreds of juvenile defenders, youth advocates and other juvenile justice stakeholders from around the country. The two and a half day conference includes plenary sessions, interspersed with workshops. Plenary topics trend toward cutting-edge issues, and this year included panels on youth homelessness, the immigration crisis and the injustice of race-based policing. Plenaries also provided short segments on new initiatives, with titles such as “We Are All Criminals” and “Creative Justice.”

Between the plenaries there are eight workshops running simultaneously. Workshops range from trial tactics to innovative policy strategies to best practices. I enjoyed getting a refresher on defending Miller cases in one session then learning about the use of data in improving defender performance in another. I was honored to be co-presenting a workshop on creating a competent juvenile defense system with my colleagues Josh Dohan from the Youth Advocacy Division in Massachusetts and Devon Lee from the Wisconsin Office of the State Public Defender.

Another great benefit of the Summit is the opportunity to interact with leaders from states around your geographical region. North Carolina is part of the Southern Juvenile Defender Center (SJDC), along with six other states. Meetings from the SJDC Advisory Committee and Regional Caucus help focus the region on initiatives to help support policy and practice efforts specific to the regional.  We were very proud that one of our own, Gary “Gar” Blume from Northport, Ala., was awarded the annual Robert E. Shepherd Award for Excellence in Juvenile Defense.

For more information about the Summit, please look here or feel free to contact our office.

Chair’s Comments: Celebrating the 20th Anniversary of Juvenile Justice & Children’s Rights

By LaToya Blackmon Powell

This year, the Juvenile Justice & Children’s Rights Section will celebrate its 20th anniversary. As your new chair, I am honored to lead the section at such a historic time for both our section and our state, which is engaged in a major reform of the juvenile justice system. We want to commemorate these milestones in a big way and want you to be involved. Here is a look at what we are planning for this year and how you can help!

CLE Program on ‘Raise the Age’

Twenty years ago, our section was discussing the need for comprehensive juvenile justice reform in North Carolina, which included raising the age of juvenile court jurisdiction. Since 1919, when the first juvenile court was created, N.C. law has required that minors be prosecuted as adults for all crimes beginning at age 16. This year, North Carolina joined the remainder of the country and raised the age to move most 16 and 17-year-olds to juvenile court. This historic legislation, called the Juvenile Justice Reinvestment Act, includes major changes to the juvenile justice system that will be implemented over the next two years.

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In Re Gault: Defending the Defenders and the Due Process They Protect

By Eric J. Zogry

May 15, 2017 marked the 50th anniversary of the United States Supreme Court decision In re Gault. Gerald Gault was a 16-year-old adjudicated and confined for making an illicit phone call to an elderly neighbor. Gerald was given no notice of the charges, no attorney, no opportunity to cross examine witnesses, and not informed of his right to remain silent when speaking to authorities. The Supreme Court determined these rights apply in juvenile delinquency court, firmly establishing the rule of law and due process.

While Gault emphasized the importance of counsel in juvenile proceedings, the ensuing response from court systems across the country has been mixed. Some states have a mandatory right to counsel, other states still require a showing of indigency from the parents. Attorneys might be appointed at the earliest stages of the case, like arrest, while others may have to wait until after arraignment, even being unrepresented at a detention hearing. Legal representation frequently ends after a disposition or sentence is entered, but what about the “guiding hand” of counsel while on probation or in a secured facility? Are attorneys properly trained, supported, and financed, or does juvenile defense continue to take a back seat to adult criminal representation? These issues and more need to be addressed before the promise of Gault can be fully achieved.

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Juvenile Representation: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow: JJCR Section Annual Meeting 2017

By Matthew Ellinwood and Sabrina Leshore

Have you had questions regarding juvenile law that were left unanswered? Have you wondered what the juvenile court judges deem most effective when appearing in their courtrooms? Are you interested in hearing from youth who are directly impacted by the daily decisions made by practitioners and judges on their behalf?

Well, the Juvenile Representation CLE scheduled for Friday, May 12, 2017 at the Cary Bar Center is just for you!!!  The first 15 Juvenile Justice & Children’s Rights Section Members who register BEFORE May 5, 2017 will receive an additional rebate which will lower the registration fee.

This CLE will provide attendees with effective strategies for juvenile representation from practitioners in the field, juvenile judges, and youth impacted by contact with the juvenile justice system.

Key topics covered will include:

  • Practical suggestions from experienced attorneys handling cases in abuse, neglect, and dependency court
  • Judges’ examples of effective advocacy from their experiences in juvenile court
  • Perspectives from youth who were formerly involved in the juvenile delinquency and child welfare systems
  • A look back at the meaning of In re Gault after 50 years
  • Dealing with stress and trauma from handling difficult juvenile cases

Matthew Ellinwood and Sabrina Leshore are co-chairs of JJCR-CLE.

Raise the Age NC Is Becoming a Reality with Introduction of New Bill

By Marcus Thompson

Since 2007, seven states have changed their laws to include youth 16 and 17 years of age in the juvenile justice system, cutting the number of youth in the criminal justice system in half nationwide and without any detrimental effects on the wallets of taxpayers.  North Carolina and New York still remain the only two states that treat 16- and 17-year-olds as adults.

Last week, House Bill 280, the Juvenile Justice Reinvestment Act, which raises the age to include juveniles 16 and 17 years of age in the North Carolina juvenile justice system, was introduced to the legislator and announced during a press conference.  Rep. Chuck McGrady stated that “besides being the right thing to do, this bill was also fiscally the right thing to do” because it would save the state money in the long term.

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Foster Care Extended to Age 21

By Sara DePasquale

The new year brings Foster Care 18-21 to North Carolina. This is a new program that offers extended foster care to children who have aged out from foster care. Foster Care 18-21 was created by S.L. 2015-241, Section 12C.9 and became effective on Jan. 1. The North Carolina Division of Social Services provides additional information about this new program in its Child Welfare Services Policy Manual, Section 1201, XII (“NC DSS §1201, XII”).

Eligibility Based on Age

A juvenile who is in foster care when he or she turns 18 may enter into a voluntary foster care agreement with a county department and continue to receive foster care services and benefits until turning 21. GS 131D-10.2B(a). The young adult who has aged out of foster care may enter into a voluntary foster care agreement at any time prior to his or her 21st birthday. Id.

There is nothing in the statute or state policy that limits enrollment to those children who age out of foster care on or after Jan. 1, 2017. As a result, it appears that children who aged out of foster care before Jan. 1, 2017 and who are not yet 21 years old may enroll in the Foster Care 18-21 program. Those young adults may contact either the county department where they were in foster care (county of origin) or where they currently reside. NC DSS §1201, XII.J.

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