This fall, we’re sharing profiles of some of the people who make up Council for Children’s Rights: attorneys, social workers, administrators, child advocates and others. This month, meet Mujtaba Mohammed, a staff attorney on our Children’s Defense Team.
Describe your role at the Council:
I am a Staff Attorney on the Children’s Defense Team at the Council for Children’s Rights (CFCR). I engage with court partners, guardians, and a number of professionals in representing the expressed interests of children. Clients in juvenile delinquency proceedings have a constitutionally mandated right to counsel under the landmark Supreme Court decision in 1967 In Re Gault. I, along with my colleagues, provide holistic representation to children (ages 6-16) with misdemeanor, felony, and undisciplined petitions in quasi-civil proceedings. As an attorney on the Children’s Defense Team, I also represent children at civil commitment hearings in psychiatric facilities.
My work at the Council provides me with both rewarding and thrilling opportunities to represent children at trial, dispositional, and detention hearings. I am tremendously blessed to work with a fantastic team of competent, committed, and compassionate group of colleagues on the Children’s Defense Team. I take pride in knowing I am a part of an organization dedicated to protecting the rights of children and ensuring their voice is heard in decisions impacting their lives.
How long have you been working for the Council?
I have been a Staff Attorney at Council for Children’s Rights since February 2014.
What got you interested in working in juvenile justice?
Along with my desire to spend my legal career in the courtroom, I have always had a soft spot for “underdogs” and public service. The summer of my second year in law school, I interned with the Durham County Public Defender’s Office. At the Public Defender’s office, I was fortunate to be supervised and paired with Mr. Philip Penn, who is an alumnus of the Council. Mr. Penn sparked my interest in representing juveniles and opened my eyes to the profound impact an advocate can make early on in a child’s life in the juvenile justice system.
Do you have a favorite quotation?
“Each time a person stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lives others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope.” – Robert F. Kennedy
Something about your family:
I am a longtime Charlottean and currently reside in northeast Charlotte with my lovely wife Saba and 19-month old son Ayub. We are also expecting another son in December 2015.
What book is currently on your nightstand?
The only space left on our nightstands lately are for our son’s toys and books including; “The Very Hungry Caterpillar,” “Ten Tiny Toes,” and our son’s favorite “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do you See?” just to name a few. These are the joys of parenthood!
When you aren’t working, what do you enjoy doing?
Outside of the courtroom and office, I enjoy spending time with my family, staying on top of current events, remaining civically active, networking, watching movies, and trying out a variety of foods.
Where did you grow up and how did it shape you?
I am one of four children born to immigrant parents from India. My parents came to the United States making sacrifices to pursue a better life for their children. I was born in Ohio and grew up in both North and South Carolina. Being raised under modest means, I was taught the importance of making sacrifices, helping others, and appreciating the simplest blessings in life. Giving priority to family and community are principles that I hold near and dear to my heart.
Any other organizations/causes you support or are involved in?
I am a member of the Mecklenburg County Bar’s Juvenile Law Section and Young Lawyers Division. I currently serve as a board member of the Larry King’s Clubhouse. The Clubhouse is a drop-in center providing a safe, secure, and enriching environment for children whose parents or guardians are conducting business at the Mecklenburg County Courthouse. I am also involved in Race Matters for Juvenile Justice which is a leadership group among local court partners who are dedicated to reducing disparate outcomes for children and families of color in the juvenile justice system.
In addition, I enjoy being civically engaged with organizations across the Charlotte area including; Action NC, Being There and Southeast Asian Coalition. Charlotte is blessed with a number of community organizations dedicated to improving lives and plenty of opportunities to help.