Juvenile Law Clinic
Program Learning Objectives
In the Juvenile Law Clinic, we provide pro bono legal representation to children in various capacities. Under the supervision of a licensed attorney, students represent children in juvenile delinquency proceedings and long term suspension hearings in Durham County. We are assigned delinquency cases by the Durham Public Defender’s Office per court appointment and long term suspension cases are received by referrals. Juvenile representation, unlike other areas of the law, involves a holistic approach. The goal is to help children learn from their mistakes while getting them any services they need to be productive and better functioning members of society. Since the juvenile justice system is rooted in the belief that children should not be treated as adults, and that early intervention can save them from spending their lives behind bars, the Juvenile Law Clinic believes in providing advocacy every step of the way.
Students with any interest in Juvenile Law or working with children as a whole, the Juvenile Law Clinic will give students the opportunity to explore this interest more while gaining valuable work experience that will be useful in any future legal career.
The Juvenile Law Clinic is a one (1) semester three (3) credit hour course that is graded on a pass/fail basis. It is offered in both Fall and Spring semesters. In the Juvenile Law Clinic students will participate in 128 hours of combined classroom instruction and actual real life representation. Before students are assigned cases, there are 20-30 hours of classroom instruction on the North Carolina Juvenile Code including the law on delinquency and abuse, neglect and dependency matters and instruction on North Carolina law and School Board Policies for long term suspension matters. Thereafter, classroom instruction continues with further subject matter education, mock case simulations, and overall case discussions. Students are expected to operate as if in a small law firm, which includes attending weekly office meetings and maintaining office hours in the NCCU Legal Clinic office to meet with clients. It is recommended that students take Criminal Procedure and/or Trial Practice before enrolling in this course, but it is not required.
Students will leave the Juvenile Law Clinic with a sound foundation of the NC Juvenile Code, experience representing children in delinquency matters, experience working with their parents of court involved juveniles, and experience with representing children who are facing long term suspension from their school.
Potential Clients and Community Partners
We represent children between the ages of 6 and 16 who have been charged with what would be a crime if it were committed by an adult per court appointment by the Durham County Public Defender’s Office. Children who have been accused of violating a school policy and their principal recommends long term suspension (anything 10 days or more) from school can be represented by our clinic if they are considered indigent. In NC juveniles are presumed to indigent due to their age.
In addition to the court appointed cases we receive from the Durham County Public Defender’s Office, we also receive referrals from Legal Aid of North Carolina for long term suspension matters.
Our clinic also partners with our local community middle school, James E. Shepard Magnet Middle School. Our students work closely with the students in the Law and Forensics classes there. They provide classroom instruction and mentorship. We also provide presentations on various topics to the entire student body and their parents throughout the school year. We provide such presentations to other local schools as well.
Other Representation and Community Involvement
If you are a student or parent of a student who has special needs, please contact our clinic for assistance. We can assist and represent students in school disability matters. We attend Individualized Education Plan (IEP) meetings, Manifestation Determination Review meetings (MDR), and Behavioral Intervention Plan meetings in order to assure that the student receives the accommodations and services they need.
We would love to partner with more schools and community groups. If you have a group you would like for us to speak to, please contact us. We are committed to the youth in our community and beyond. We truly believe in being a part of keeping children from being in the “School to Prison Pipeline.”
Contact: Professor Dorothy Hairston Mitchell