Below is a post I recently published on our On the Civil Side blog that I thought would be of interest to defense attorneys. The post explores the appeal of an order terminating a father’s parental rights following a hearing the father could not participate in because of a COVID-19 prison lockdown. The notions of due process, procedural fairness, and liberty interests will be familiar to you. The case, In re C.A.B., 2022-NCSC-51, also serves as a reminder that for a client who is incarcerated before or after a trial, the client’s life and family—and the world at large—go on.
We wish we were singing Hello Dolly but, as you may have heard, Dolly Whiteside, longtime Chief Special Counsel with the Office of Indigent Defense Services (IDS) retired on March 31 after FORTY-THREE YEARS of public service. In her work, Dolly focused primarily on civil commitment, incompetency, and guardianship matters. She has been a tireless advocate, not only for the people whose lives are at stake in those proceedings, but also for the hardworking and dedicated attorneys who represent them. Dolly has been a valued partner to our Public Defense Education team at the School of Government, always willing to lend her expertise and insight when answering legal questions and collaborating on countless educational programs over the years. We will miss her tremendously. Dolly, enjoy retirement—you have more than earned it—but please come back and say Hello.
As sad as we are to see Dolly go, we are equally excited about the appointment of Chad Perry as Chief Special Counsel at IDS. Chad spent close to a decade working as an assistant public defender in Durham County, where he represented clients charged with misdemeanors and felonies as well as clients in civil commitment and youth drug treatment courts. Chad also served as an attorney with the Office of the Inspector General and with the Social Security Administration’s Appeals Council. Most recently, Chad represented respondents in commitment hearings in Wake County for the Office of Special Counsel.
I am happy to announce the publication of my new bulletin, “When and How Criminal-Defense Attorneys Can Obtain Access to Confidential Child Welfare and Juvenile Abuse, Neglect, and Dependency Records.” I hope it is of help to anyone needing to determine criminal attorney access to these protected records.
Consider these common scenarios. A criminal attorney learns that a county department of social services (DSS) or equivalent agency has been involved with that attorney’s client and family. Or maybe the attorney believes that the DSS has investigated a report of suspected abuse, neglect, or dependency that involves a witness or alleged victim in the criminal case. How can the criminal attorney access existing child-welfare and juvenile abuse, neglect, and dependency records that may be relevant to the criminal case?
Alternatively, a respondent parent, guardian, custodian, or caretaker in a juvenile abuse, neglect, and dependency (A/N/D) action has been charged criminally. The criminal attorney asks the attorney representing the same individual in the A/N/D matter to share records and information relating to the A/N/D proceeding. What can the A/N/D attorney share with the criminal attorney?
I received an interesting question recently when I taught about the intersection of criminal defense and Chapter 35A incompetency. Suppose a person is adjudicated incompetent in a Chapter 35A proceeding and a guardian is appointed. Suppose that same person had been convicted of a crime requiring registration as a sex offender and compliance with the other obligations of Chapter 14, Article 27A. The person is required to register changes to their address (including providing notice to law enforcement of an intention to move out-of-state), to their academic and employment status, and to notify the State of changes to their name or online identifiers, including e-mail addresses. G.S. 14-208.7; G.S. 14-208.9. What effect does declaration of incompetency have on these registration requirements? Who is responsible for ensuring that the incompetent adult complies with these registration obligations—the adult or their guardian? Continue reading →