The Youth Justice Clinic is either a one or two-semester clinic in which third-year law students represent young people accused of delinquency offenses, crimes, status offenses, and school discipline cases in Durham, Orange, and Wake Counties. Specifically, students handle a wide variety of felony and misdemeanor cases in delinquency and criminal courts, ranging from disorderly conduct to assault and drug distribution. Additionally, students represent children alleged to be truant, beyond the disciplinary control of their parents, and runaways, as well as sixteen and seventeen-year-olds who have petitioned for emancipation. Students are also assigned to represent clients in long-term suspension hearings and appeals. When appropriate, students handle appellate matters.
While cases are assigned to individual students, each student works with a partner and the pair meets regularly as a team with their faculty supervisor. Students research legal theories and defenses, prepare and update case plans documenting defense strategy, draft motions and legal memoranda, and prepare witness examinations and argument for evidentiary hearings. Students also conduct pretrial and pre-sentencing investigations in which they interview state, school and defense witnesses as well as family members and service providers. Throughout the process, students maintain regular contact with their clients, advising and counseling them at each stage.
Students appear in court frequently and handle all aspects of juvenile court practice and procedure, including detention, probable cause, motions, trial and sentencing. Students regularly negotiate with prosecutors and court personnel on behalf of their clients. In the suspension context, students appear in contested hearings before school administrators and administrative law judges.
Evidence and Criminal Procedure: Investigation. Trial Advocacy is a prerequisite but may be taken concurrently in the fall. In addition, Criminal Procedure: Adjudication is strongly recommended. Students entering the Youth Justice Clinic for either the fall or the spring must also register for Criminal Lawyering Process in the fall.