Juvenile Defense & Mental Health Practice Area



Children’s Defense Team

Council for Children’s Rights’ Children’s Defense Team, or CDT, serves as court-appointed attorneys for children between the ages of 6 and 18 who are alleged to be delinquent in Mecklenburg County. The Team also represents children who have been placed in a psychiatric hospital or treatment facility due to mental health issues.

This program serves as a model of how children should be supported when their lives intersect with the juvenile justice system.

Our Approach

Know Your Rights

2021 Vision Statement

Juvenile defense is designed to balance public safety with the best interests of the child. While adult court focuses on whether a crime was committed and determines punishment, juvenile court is designed to reach further into the circumstances of a child’s life to focus on the whole child and addresses educational, health, housing, and family needs.

CDT holds “Know Your Rights” workshops in area schools so students gain a fundamental understanding of the historical context of their constitutional rights and of the practical knowledge of what rights are afforded to them if they’re accused of a crime. The workshop also reminds teenagers of their value to our community and encourages them to advocate for themselves.

Our holistic approach to defense redirects and improves the futures of our child-clients.


Juvenile Defense cases are by court appointment only. Our team is composed of a director, delinquency and mental health attorneys, social workers, an investigator and a program assistant.



We are committed to the highest quality legal representation for our child-clients. We practice a comprehensive approach to juvenile defense work by investigating all allegations and defenses, reviewing records and social history information to better understand our clients, and working with community partners to address all of a child’s needs.


Our work focuses on protecting the constitutional rights of child-clients. We are increasing the quality of representation and the understanding of Juvenile Law and children’s rights for all children — even beyond the kids we represent.


To improve the systems our children encounter, we attend and facilitate trainings to shine a light on the needs and issues in the greater community and on systems reform initiatives.

The Children’s Defense Team

Michelle Duprey, JD
Director of Children’s Defense Team

Anthony Masters, JD
Staff Attorney

Breanne Mercer, JD
Staff Attorney

Billy Vargas, JD
Staff Attorney

Brian Wick, JD
Staff Attorney

Sarah Shearer
Program Assistant

Job Opportunities for:

Staff Attorney

Social Worker



Because of our holistic approach to juvenile defense, the recidivism rate in Mecklenburg County is 14% compared to the North Carolina average of 40%.

Get involved with CDT

KNow your Rights

If you would like our attorneys to present our “Know Your Rights” workshop in your classroom, please contact us to schedule a date. We can also provide virtual workshops.


Intern with CDT

We are seeking dedicated, enthusiastic, and high-performing individuals for legal internship positions. Our internship provides individuals with important professional experience and opportunities to effect change on behalf of youth who have come under juvenile court jurisdiction. Legal interns work directly with attorneys in an inter-disciplinary team with social workers, an investigator and a legal assistant.