Cyn Yamashiro, reviewing the findings of the Loyola Law School study, Kids, Counsel and Costs: An Empirical Study of Indigent Defense Services in the Los Angeles Juvenile Delinquency Courts

Experts Concerned that LA County’s Juvenile Public Defense System Depriving Indigent Youth of Adequate Counsel

LOS ANGELES — Antonio was only 14 years old when he was charged with two counts of attempted murder in April 2012. Because of his age and the fact that he had no prior record and because there were strong indications that he didn’t know his much older co-defendant was going to shoot anyone, he seemed to be a strong candidate to be tried in juvenile court. Inexplicably, his appointed lawyer failed to vigorously fight to have Antonio tried as a juvenile, failed to call witnesses or ask questions at a probable cause hearing where Antonio’s lesser culpability could have been argued and failed to ensure that Antonio’s probation report was accurate and complete, according to interviews and court records. As a result of this litany of legal missteps, Antonio’s case was sent to adult court — where he suddenly was facing 90 years in prison if convicted. Such problems are far from unique.