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Week in Review: February 13-17

Happy Friday! With NC having all this good weather, a long introduction before the pre-weekend read is unnecessary. Let's get to it!

Tip of the Week: How Do I Know the State Will be Seeking the Gang Enhancement Against My Juvenile?

Under current law, there is no process for notice to the juvenile and the juvenile’s attorney that the state is seeking gang enhancement. As the juvenile’s attorney, you should consider the following:

  1. Get a copy of the gang assessment from DJJ prior to adjudication

  2. Argue that the notice of gang enhancement be presented pre-adjudication

  3. Develop a theory of defense against the client’s involvement in gang activity

  4. Prepare for a hearing on the issue

  5. Request a hearing, similar to an adjudicatory hearing

  6. Request the court make findings on the record and appeal where appropriate

Black History Month Spotlight: Chad Perry & Jovon Thompson

“Black youth experience the highest rate of racial disparity in juvenile court. Why is it important to you, as a Black attorney, to represent youth in juvenile delinquency court and why is it important to you/what does it mean to you?”

Chad Perry, Chief Attorney Office of Special Counsel

"As an African American lawyer who has spent most of my career in the criminal justice system, it is very important that juvenile defendants of color have available to them attorneys that look like them, who may be able to better understand the cultural challenges that they may face when dealing with the justice system. As juveniles are still very young and impressionable, I’m sure this interaction can also be beneficial to other races who may have never encountered an African American working professional. However, whenever I speak to young African American lawyers and aspiring law students, I always tell them that bringing your diversity to the legal profession is simply not enough. Although the number of attorneys who are African American is still very dismal and must be improved (5% according to the American Bar Association in 2020), we have African American attorneys. What we do not have enough of is what I call “courageous diversity.” Meaning, as an African American lawyer, we cannot shrink in who we are in this profession. If diversity is to help improve this legal profession, we must bring our true, authentic selves, and our individual and collective experiences, to our jobs every day. We must do this so our juvenile clients and our profession can reap the true rewards of our presence in places and courtrooms that we have historically been excluded from other than as the accused."

Jovon Thompson, Assistant Public Defender, Pitt County

"The mere fact that Black youth experience the highest rate of racial disparity in juvenile court is the exact reason why it is critical that Black attorneys are there to assist them. REPRESENTATION MATTERS. People, in general, are naturally comforted and assured by shared experiences, cultures, and lifestyles. Another Black American is the only one who can truly grip and understand what it means to live with the oppression and discrimination that has historically, and currently, confronted our people. It is so important to me to provide an initial sense of trust and shared experiences with Black juveniles. A juvenile who may be able to see themselves in me, intrinsically creates a bond that while unspoken, is strong and reliable. I want juveniles who may be struggling to know that there are other successful and supportive professionals who look just like them. They too, if the right opportunities are provided and the right decisions are made, can achieve their goals and take control of their own futures."


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