Blog Posts: Criminal Justice

Fourth Circuit Ruling Supports Challenge to Parole System for Juvenile Offenders

In an important decision protecting the constitutional rights of juvenile offenders, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed the State’s appeal in Hayden v. Butler. In September 2015, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina declared the State’s parole process for juvenile offenders unconstitutional, and ordered the State to reform the system. The State appealed that decision, and the Center for Civil Rights and the UNC Youth Justice Clinic filed an amicus brief in support of Shaun Hayden, who is represented by North Carolina Prisoner Legal Services.
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Posted by Mark Dorosin on Tue. August 2, 2016 12:03 PM
Categories: Criminal Justice

Center for Civil Rights and Youth Justice Clinic File Amicus Brief in Fourth Circuit Case Challenging North Carolina Parole System Treatment of Juvenile Offenders

On February 16, the UNC Center for Civil Rights and the UNC Youth Justice Clinic filed an amicus brief to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in Hayden v. Butler.  The amicus brief supports Plaintiff-Appellee Shaun Hayden, a North Carolina prisoner challenging the constitutionality of the State’s parole system as it applies to juvenile offenders.  Hayden, who is represented by North Carolina Prisoner Legal Services, was sentenced to life with the possibility of parole for crimes he committed when he was 15.


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Posted by Brent J. Ducharme on Thu. February 18, 2016 2:42 PM
Categories: Amicus Curiae, Criminal Justice

Mass Incarceration: A Civil Rights Crisis

The United States has merely 5% of the world’s population, yet nearly 25% of the world’s prisoners.

North Carolina Advocates for Justice hosted a conference in October 2015, presented by the North Carolina Commission on Racial and Ethnic Disparities (NC-CRED), titled “Understanding Mass Incarceration.”

The presentations highlighted the serious problems that remain deeply imbedded in the American criminal “justice” system; one presenter went as far as saying that he never referred to it as the criminal justice system, and instead opted for the more realistic phrase, “criminal legal system.” The problem of mass incarceration was referred to as a civil rights crisis, as it negatively affects access to housing, employment, voting, and education.

Blog by: Maria Lopez Delgado, 3L, UNC School of Law


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Posted by Jennifer Watson Marsh on Fri. November 20, 2015 2:34 PM
Categories: Community Inclusion, Criminal Justice, Law Students, Race Discrimination

A Letter of Thanks to the UNC Center for Civil Rights from a Moral Monday Lawyer

The following letter was posted by Attorney Scott Holmes after speaking at a forum we hosted yesterday on the Moral Monday trials. Read his original post on his blog.


Dear Friends of Civil Rights,

Thank you for inviting me to come spend time with you at the UNC Center for Civil Rights to talk about our adventures representing Moral Monday protesters. It was such an honor and pleasure to return to the same room and the same halls were I began my journey as an attorney. Your energy and commitment keeps my fire for justice burning hot and bright. I had some thoughts about questions that were asked during the panel and wanted to share those thoughts and ideas with you.


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Posted by Peter Hull Gilbert on Thu. February 20, 2014 4:03 PM
Categories: Criminal Justice, First Amendment, Law Students, Race and the Law Series, Wake County

SAVE THE DATES! Two-Part "Race and Civil Rights" conference

The NAACP Legal Defense Fund and the UNC Center for Civil Rights are hosting a two-part conference this summer and fall designed to engage the nation's leading civil rights and racial justice advocates.


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Posted by Mark Dorosin on Fri. April 12, 2013 1:56 PM
Categories: Community Inclusion, Criminal Justice, Education, Environmental Justice, Fair Housing, Juvenile Justice, Race and the Law Series, Race Discrimination, Segregation

Reflections: The NC Racial Justice Act and its Impact on Our State

Jennifer Marsh is a civil rights lawyer and the Center’s new Director of Research, Community Services and Student Programs. Prior to joining the Center, Jennifer served as the Project Manager and Senior Attorney for the Racial Justice Act study conducted by Michigan Law School. She provided her reflections on the landmark hearing last month that commuted three death sentences under North Carolina’s Racial Justice Act.

On Thursday, December 13, 2012, Cumberland County Superior Court Judge Gregory Weeks issued a ruling under the North Carolina’s Racial Justice Act (RJA). The order commuted the death sentences of three notorious murderers and resentenced them to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Passed in 2009, the RJA states that “no person shall be subject to… a sentence of death… pursuant to any judgment that was sought or obtained on the basis of race.”


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Posted by Jennifer Watson Marsh on Tue. January 8, 2013 4:00 PM
Categories: Criminal Justice, Race Discrimination

State Supreme Court hears school search case: "It is unconstitutional for our daughters to be...violated this way by the public schools..."

On February 13, the North Carolina Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a landmark case regarding the authority of public school officials to search students. The Center for Civil Rights, the UNC Juvenile Justice Clinic and other students’ rights advocates filed an amicus brief in support of plaintiff T.A.S, a fifteen year old girl. The NC Court of Appeals found the T.A.S. had been subjected to an unconstitutional search, and the state appealed.

In her opening statement on behalf of T.A.S, attorney Geeta Kapur told the Court:

“A fifteen-year-old girl was patted down and her bra was searched by a male school official while a male law enforcement officer stood guard and observed in a closed classroom. The two men did not have any individualized suspicion that she had violated any school rules or the law. She must have been humiliated, frightened and embarrassed.

It is unconstitutional for our daughters to be searched and violated this way by the public schools of North Carolina.”

The UNC Center for Civil Rights and UNC Juvenile Justice Clinic joined the National ACLU, the NC ACLU, the Southern Poverty Law Center, the National Juvenile Defenders Office, the Southern Juvenile Defender, the NC Juvenile Defender and the Southern Coalition for Social Justice in an amicus brief to the court.


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Posted by Mark Dorosin on Tue. March 27, 2012 10:08 AM
Categories: Amicus Curiae, Brunswick County, Criminal Justice, Juvenile Justice

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