JJCR Section Member Wins National Recognition For Youth Justice Reform Efforts

Two North Carolinians – State Rep. Marcia Morey and Brandy Bynum Dawson – are being recognized as leaders in youth justice reform by the National Juvenile Justice Network (NJJN), based in Washington, D.C. The leadership awards honor advocates working at the state level who have championed the cause of youth justice reform. These individuals have shown themselves to be true friends of and advocates for youth in trouble with the law, and the awards recognize their commitment to creating a smaller, fairer, and more equitable juvenile justice system.

“We wanted to honor these leaders because they understand that North Carolina’s youth justice system is like a maze, with too many entrances and lots of dead ends,” said Sarah Bryer, the executive director of the National Juvenile Justice Network. “They’ve each done crucial work to redesign the maze with fewer entrances and clearer pathways out, so that our justice system makes sense and kids can be rehabilitated and contribute to their communities.”

Brandy Bynum Dawson

We recognize Brandy Bynum Dawson, Rural Forward NC associate director and a member of the North Carolina Bar Association’s Juvenile Justice & Children’s Rights Section, because of her decade plus commitment to raising the age of juvenile jurisdiction in North Carolina, which laid the groundwork and inspired the final passage of the Raise the Age legislation. “Brandy has engaged in exceptional advocacy and serves as a visionary leader for youth justice system reform in North Carolina,” said Ricky Watson, co-director of the Youth Justice Project. “Her deep and passionate support of young people has positively impacted the trajectory of so many.”

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Member Highlights: Meet Our Children’s Champion Award Winner, Deana Fleming

By LaToya Powell

On May 10, 2018, the Juvenile Justice & Children’s Rights Section presented the inaugural Children’s Champion Award at our annual meeting to commemorate the section’s 20th anniversary. The award honors a member of the section who has demonstrated a longstanding commitment to protecting the rights of children and improving the administration of justice for court-involved youth. In other words, a true Children’s Champion. Recipients of the award also must be contributing members of the section. Deana Fleming, the first Children’s Champion, truly embodies these qualities and more.

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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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