Riding the Waves of Change: 2019 Legislative Review

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By Christina Cress
Four NCBA Sections are combining their respective experience and subject matter expertise to bring you an informative CLE highlighting this session’s legislative updates.

The Administrative Law Section; Environment, Energy & Natural Resources Law Section; Government & Public Sector Section; and Juvenile Justice & Children’s Rights Section are teaming up to bring you a 6.0‑credit hour CLE beginning at 8:15 a.m. on Friday, November 8, titled “Riding the Waves of Change: 2019 Legislative Review.”  Although it will be available by webcast and On Demand, we encourage you to attend live so that you can enjoy fellowship and networking during breakfast and lunch, both of which are include in your CLE registration.

The content-packed agenda features speakers who are both seasoned veterans on Jones Street and those who are relatively new to lobbying.  The sessions are both broad enough to include tips for all lawyers and practice areas, but sufficiently tailored to provide a specific substantive update on the most salient legislative actions taken this session as well as a general refresher of legislative procedure 101!  Come learn what the North Carolina General Assembly has (or has not) changed and the practical effects of those changes.  Brush up on your legislative procedure knowledge and skills.  Hear about the most debated and followed bills of the current legislative session.

Specific sessions include a Hot Topics Potpourri Panel moderated by Bain Jones, featuring panelists Jack Nichols, Reginald O’Rourke, and Robin L. Tatum.  You also will hear from Karen Brinson Bell, Bob Joyce, Katelyn Love, and Bruce Thompson, II, during our Elections and Redistricting Updates.  Meisha Evans and Nick Fountain will bring you Legislative Process 101.  Dixon Snukals will take you on a deep dive into Environmental and Energy updates.  And LaToya Powell will end the day with an update on Juvenile Justice Reform and Child Welfare Law.

There truly is something for everyone in this CLE – even if not in your specific practice area, then at least in your role as a citizen of the Old North State!  We hope you will join us!

Racial Equity Institute Introductory Groundwater Training Set For May 9 At the Bar Center


By Niya Fonville

Imagine being asked “Hey girl, what attorney are you here for?” by a court official or having a client you have never met claim (in a phone consultation) that “all the N-word and Mexicans are taking over and I can’t get help.” Then imagine being expected to zealously advocate for clients and be confident in the judge’s decision in spite of these statements to you. Now imagine being a 25-year-old, newly minted attorney when these “conversations” take place.

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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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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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