Derrick practices law primarily in Durham, NC, where he has resided since 2002. He attended Duke University as an undergrad, majoring in Philosophy and History. Derrick taught ESL and worked as a window washer before deciding to attend law school. While at law school, he was on a law journal and participated in internships with local governments, performing a wide variety of legal work. In 2011 Derrick graduated first in his class from the Evening Program, a four-year course of study at the North Carolina Central University School of Law. Upon being licensed to practice law in North Carolina, he immediately opened his solo law practice to serve the Triangle area. He is a member of the National Association of Counsel for Children (NACC), the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), the American Bar Association (ABA), the North Carolina Bar Association (NCBA), and the 14th Judicial District (Durham County, NC) Bar Association. He is licensed to practice in the State Courts of North Carolina, as well as the Federal Courts for the Eastern, Middle, and Western Districts of North Carolina, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, and the Supreme Court of the United States.
Derrick is dedicated to fostering an open, communicative attorney-client relationship based on trust and honesty. Derrick practices in several interrelated fields, including general family law (divorce, child custody, support, adoption, etc.), child welfare proceedings ("DSS Court"), and family-based immigration. Derrick is experienced in various kinds of appeals, and is able to pursue appeals of decisions in state court as well as federal immigration matters. Derrick has represented the best interests of hundreds of children in juvenile abuse/neglect/dependency proceedings as a staff Attorney Advocate, and has handled hundreds of child support cases while representing a county child support (IV-D) agency. Derrick also has substantial experience in seeking Special Immigrant Juvenile Status for abused, neglected, and abandoned immigrant youth.
Because Derrick believes that giving back to the community is his most important calling, he has volunteered his time and energy in a wide variety of ways. He takes on a number of matters Pro Bono with his firm as his primary public service, and he also volunteers with various community service and legal education projects. He also frequently serves as a volunteer judge for Mock Trial competitions. He served for years as a volunteer Guardian ad Litem for children in Juvenile Abuse/Neglect/Dependency court, and took on several Pro Bono appeals on behalf of children. His other significant Pro Bono activities have previously included taking cases from the US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, the NC Immigrant Rights Project, Justice Matters, and the Charlotte School of Law Immigration Clinic, and he had also given time to the Lawyer on the Line project of Legal Aid of NC and the NC Bar Association, providing free advice to low income earners.
Because addressing your legal issues will probably not be pleasant, and indeed may be one of the most expensive and emotionally exhausting experiences of your life, Derrick is committed to running a law practice that focuses on the client's needs and making the experience the best it can be. Although the legal system may be slow, complex, and full of uncertainty, your attorney should not compound the problem by failing to explain their role or failing to keep you involved and updated on your case. Derrick believes that you have a right to know your case's status at every turn, and to speak about your case's status at least every other week, a right to make prompt appointments to discuss any issues that are important to you, the right to be informed about less costly alternatives to full legal representation, the right to work out a reasonable payment plan over time, and the right to know about your options if you are not satisfied with your attorney's services.
Derrick is certified as a Child Welfare Law Specialist by the National Association of Counsel for Children.
Published Appellate Cases
- Zetino-Cruz, v. Benitez-Zetino, et al., Slip Op. CoA 15-1154, ____ NC.App. ____, 791 S.E.2d 100 (N.C. App., Aug. 16, 2016)
- In re D.L.W., D.L.N.W., and V.A.W., Slip Op. NC 252PA15, 368 NC 835, 788 S.E.2d 162 (N.C., June 10, 2016)
- Tiscareno-Garcia v. Holder, Slip Op. 13-2459, 780 F.3d 205 (4th Cir., Mar. 3, 2015)
- In re C.O.W., Slip Op. CoA 14-517, 765 S.E.2d 553 (N.C. App., 2014)
- In re A.G., Slip Op. CoA 13-807, 757 S.E.2d 523 (N.C. App., 2014)
- In re R.D., Slip Op. CoA 12-1400, 741 S.E.2d 514 (N.C. App., 2013)
- In re G.M., A.M., M.C., Slip Op. CoA 12-138, 725 S.E.2d 923 (N.C. App., 2012)
Publications, Continuing Legal Education Presentations & Other Speaking Engagements
- August 14, 2016 CLE:Special Immigrant Juvenile Status: Serving and Protecting Undocumented Children through Child Welfare and Immigration Proceedings, with co-presenter Prof. Claire R. Thomas, at the National Association of Counsel for Children's Annual Conference in Philadelphia, PA. You may review the outline.
- June 4, 2016 Presentations with US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants and Durham Public Schools on Immigration Relief Options and Know Your Rights, at Riverside High School, Jordan High School, and Southern High School, Durham, NC (and Northern High School, Durham, NC on April 21, 2016).
- May 16, 2016 CLE:The North Carolina Courts and Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS), at the Elon University School of Law, Greensboro, NC. You may review the outline and slideshow.
- October 16, 2015 Guardian ad Litem Attorney Advocate Annual Conference CLE:Special Immigrant Juvenile Status for GAL Attorney Advocates, at the NC Judicial Center, Raleigh, NC. You may review the slideshow.
- September 19, 2015 Live Taping of It's Your Life: Human Trafficking hosted by Carena Lemons, Esq., with guests Leto Copeley, Esq., and Meghan Deustch-Blanco, Esq., taped at the NCCU School of Law (Aired Feb. 11 2016 on RTN 10 at 5:00 pm, and available on the show's YouTube channel).
- September 18, 2015 UNC Pathways to Pro Bono CLE: Representing Immigrant Children in Child Custody Hearings, an the UNC School of Law in Chapel Hill, NC, with co-presenter Kelly Durden, Esq., of Legal Services of Southern Piedmont.
- April 29, 2015 NC Bar Association CLE: Special Immigrant Juvenile Status and the Family Court Order Process at the NC Bar Center, in Cary, NC, with co-presenters Mark Bowers, Esq., of Legal Services of Southern Piedmont, and Julie Spahn, Esq., of the Forsythe Immigration Law Firm.
- March 21, 2015 Presentation The "Unaccompanied Alien Child" (UAC) Crisis: Push Factors in Central America; The US Government Response; Legal Options and Difficulties for Immigrant Youths, co-presenting with Attorney Joanna M. Gaughan, at the 2015 Faith and Immigration Statewide Summit hosted by the NC Council of Churches in Durham, NC - you may review the outline and the slideshow.
- March 3, 2015 CLE Presentation Special Immigrant Juvenile Status at the IMMIGRANT PATHWAY Institute 2015: Raleigh, hosted by Centro Internacional de Raleigh at the Campbell Law School in Raleigh, NC - you may review the slideshow.
- February 27, 2015 CLE Presentation Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS) in the North Carolina State Courts at a training on Immigration Relief for Unaccompanied Children, hosted by the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants at Shaw University in Raleigh, NC - you may review the outline & slideshow.
- January 12, 2015 CLE Presentation Custody Cases involving Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS) in the North Carolina Courts co-presenting with Professor Beth Posner and Attorney Joanna M. Gaughan at the Durham County, NC, Courthouse - you may Review the outline & slideshow.
- September 16 2014, podcast on Special Immigrant Juvenile Status with Prof. Lenni Benson and Atty. Joanna M. Gaughan - listen to the audio & review the handout.
- August 17, 2016, IndyWeek, Durham, NC, Durham Judge Moves Custody Hearing Out of County, Appeals Court Returns Case to Durham by Lauren Horsch (Static Version: HERE).
- June 9, 2016, Qué Pasa Newspaper, Raleigh, NC, They Recommend to Keep Going to Court and to Consult with an Attorney about Options for Relief (Spanish Title: Recomiendan no dejar de ir a corte y consultar con un abogado sobre alivios migratorios disponibles) by Eloy Tupayachi (Static Versions: English & Español).
- December 2, 2015, IndyWeek, Durham, NC, The invisibles: 57,000 minors crossed the Southern border last year. Should we send them back? by Billy Ball (Static Version: HERE).
- April 17, 2015, Qué Pasa Newspaper, Raleigh, NC, He was about to be deported, but they miraculously let him go (Spanish Title: Estaba a punto de ser deportado pero lo dejaron ir de milagro) by Eloy Tupayachi (Static Versions: English & Español).
- April 17, 2015, online publication Dalton Cox Reports: Multimedia and Multicultural Journalism, Elon, NC, Undocumented children from other countries seek resources and relief in North Carolina by Dalton Cox (Static Versions: Here).
- March 11, 2015, online publication COM450 Multimedia Journalism Pairs Project, Elon, NC, Border surge brings unaccompanied minors to North Carolina by Katy Canada and Mackenzie Roberts (Static Versions: Here).
- March 04, 2015, Law360, New York, 4th Circ. Says Entry Conviction Doomed Moral Character Bid by Matthew Bultman.
- November 12 2014, Qué Pasa Newspaper, Raleigh, NC, Worker arrested in ICE raid in 2010 is seeking justice (Spanish Title: Trabajador detenido en redada de ICE en 2010 sigue buscando justicia) by Eloy Tupayachi (Static Versions: English & Español)
Academic Articles Regarding Published Cases