Reform Trends

1.) Appointment of Counsel

A. Indigency – When Youth Can’t Afford an Attorney

Youth have a constitutional right to counsel in delinquency proceedings.[1] The right is meaningless, however, if the youth is indigent and lacks the funds to hire an attorney. Consequently, if youth are indigent, courts must appoint counsel.

States handle the appointment of counsel for indigent youth in a number of different ways and have recently begun to reexamine what it means for a youth to be indigent.

    • Most states consider parents’ finances in determining whether a youth is indigent.[2] This can be problematic, because financial pressures can lead youth to be reluctant to ask parents to pay for an attorney, and/or can cause parents to pressure youth to waive their right to counsel.[3]
    • In determining indigency, most states look at factors such as income relative to the federal poverty guidelines, as well as subjective standards, such as “substantial hardship.”[4]
    • Youth can be hampered by application fees that some states require to apply for court-appointed counsel. For example, as of 2011, Florida charged $40, Delaware $100, Georgia $50, and Tennessee $50 to apply for a court-appointed attorney.[5]
    • As a result of the complicated nature of determining indigency, the American Bar Association (ABA)’s juvenile justice standards recommend that the court appoint counsel for all youth who do not hire their own attorney, and not seek reimbursement from the child or their family regardless of their finances.[6] The National Juvenile Defense Standards recommend that counsel advocate for a presumption of indigence for all juvenile clients.[7]
+ Strategies: Judicial Leadership

  • Delaware court rules allow the court to appoint counsel on request of the youth if their custodian is not indigent but refuses to retain a lawyer for the youth.[8]
  • Pennsylvania, in the wake of the “kids for cash” scandal, adopted court rules presuming all youth are indigent. The rules require an attorney be appointed for any youth who have not retained counsel prior to any hearing. While the presumption of indigency can be rebutted, such as if the court receives financial evidence to the contrary, the court cannot take into account the financial resources of the parent or guardian.[9]

+ Strategies: Legislative

  • Louisiana passed legislation in 2010 providing that all youth are presumed indigent for the appointment of counsel in juvenile court.[10]
  • North Carolina passed legislation establishing a presumption of indigency and requiring that an attorney be appointed for all youth in delinquency proceedings, unless they have already retained counsel.[11]
  • Pennsylvania passed legislation in 2012 to address the problem of youth going unrepresented, as occurred in the Luzerne County “kids-for-cash” scandal. The new law requires that all youth in delinquency cases be presumed indigent and counsel be appointed prior to the beginning of a hearing for any young person who does not already have a lawyer. This presumption can be rebutted if the court learns that the youth has the funds to hire his or her own attorney, but the court cannot consider the resources of the youth’s family in making this determination.[12]

B. Making Sure Youth Get Counsel in a Timely Manner

Early appointment of counsel is critical to youth who, even more so than adults, are likely to be unfamiliar with the justice system, and confused and anxious upon arrest. Youth are more vulnerable to coercion by adults, and are less able to understand legal rights, such as Miranda warnings.[13] The ABA juvenile justice standards require counsel be appointed either as soon as the youth is taken into custody, when the petition is filed, or when the youth first appears at an intake conference— whichever comes first. Unfortunately, assessments of access to counsel in many states have found that many youth are not appointed counsel at an early stage of the proceedings.[14]

Early appointment of counsel allows attorneys to assist their young clients in many ways, including:[15]

    • helping their client to understand their rights;
    • protecting them from making incriminating statements or false confessions;[16]
    • negotiating charging alternatives with the prosecutor;
    • advocating for diversion or dismissal of charges in a timely fashion;
    • investigating alternatives to detention, preparing for the detention hearing, and advocating for a pre-trial release plan to prevent a youth from being securely detained;
    • helping the youth develop a plan of activities that will later demonstrate to the court that there is no need for placement, should the youth be adjudicated delinquent; and
    • helping their client to understand legal options so they can make informed decisions regarding the best course of action in their case.

Late appointment of counsel, such as after the detention hearing, places youth at a severe disadvantage, as they are less likely to gain release without the assistance of counsel. Youth detained prior to trial are more likely to be formally processed, adjudicated delinquent, and placed outside the home at disposition.[17]

+ Strategies: Legislative

  • Illinois passed legislation in 2008 requiring the court to appoint counsel for youth who are being held in custody immediately upon filing of a petition. It also specifies that the court cannot hold the detention hearing until the youth has had adequate time to consult with counsel.[18]
  • Montana passed legislation in 2009 requiring attorneys to meet with youth prior to the detention hearing and prior to a youth’s waiver of counsel.[19]

+ Strategies: Litigation

  • New Jersey’s Supreme Court held, in 2009, that a youth has a right to counsel at the filing of a delinquency complaint or when a judge approves an arrest warrant.[20]

C. All Stages of Proceedings

Once appointed, attorneys should represent youth at all stages or phases of the delinquency process, including arraignment, pre-trial detention hearings, discovery, trial, pleas, and disposition.[21]

+ Strategies: Legislative

  • District of Columbia – youth in delinquency court are entitled to the representation of counsel at all critical stages, including the time when they must admit or deny the allegations made against them, and at all subsequent stages.[22]
  • Pennsylvania – state law gives youth a right “to representation by legal counsel at all stages of any proceedings …”[23]

D. Post-Disposition Representation

Once the court orders a disposition for a young person in a delinquency case, he or she still needs a lawyer in many situations, including the following:[24]

    • ensuring youth are provided services as ordered and needed, which can include educational, medical, and psychological services;
    • assuring that youth are not placed in dangerous conditions of confinement;
    • representing youth at post-dispositional meetings and hearings such as case review meetings, proceedings to review or modify court orders, and probation or parole revocation hearings;
    • sealing and expunging records; and
    • deciding whether to appeal their case.

Accordingly, many national groups—including the American Bar Association, the National Juvenile Defender Center, and the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges—all recommend that youth have access to counsel post-disposition (this generally means while they are under court supervision or committed to a juvenile justice agency).[25]

+ Strategies: Administrative

  • Setting mandatory post-disposition review hearings is a critical accountability tool for ensuring youth are receiving effective services. Important issues regarding a youth’s treatment often are only revealed at these hearings, such as the denial of medical treatment and the lack of special education services, as well as any indications of abuse.[26]
  • It is also critical that the court system pay court-appointed attorneys to do this work and that public defender systems allocate funding for attorney time to be spent on post-dispositional advocacy.
  • States providing post-disposition services include:
      • Maryland – After a long history of problems with the state’s juvenile facilities, the Maryland Office of the Public Defender created a specialized post-disposition advocacy unit within its office – the Juvenile Protection Division. The Division monitors juvenile facilities for safety and monitors the state’s adherence to commitment orders for treatment.[27]
      • Massachusetts – In 2011, the state’s Youth Advocacy Department’s Private Counsel Unit established a panel of attorneys to provide statewide representation to post-disposition youth facing proceedings, similar to parole revocation hearings.[28]
      • Mississippi – After abusive conditions in the state’s training schools for delinquent youth were uncovered, the Mississippi Youth Justice Project contracted with the Mississippi Department of Protection and Advocacy to provide post-dispositional advocacy to all the children in the training schools.[29]
      • New Jersey – In 2009, the New Jersey Office of the Public Defender collaborated with the clinical law school programs at Rutgers School of Law to establish a program to use student attorneys to provide post-dispositional representation to youth.[30]

+ Strategies: Legislative


2.) Reducing the Number of Youth Who Waive Their Right to Counsel

A. Nationwide Problem

Foregoing all attorney representation, or “waiver of the right to counsel,” is a nationwide problem in juvenile court.[32] In some jurisdictions, as many as 80-90% of youth waive their right to counsel, often not understanding the consequences.[33]

Youth who go without counsel can suffer severe consequences, as was demonstrated in the Luzerne County, Pennsylvania “kids-for-cash” scandal, where from 2003-2008, corrupt judges were committing youth with minor offenses to juvenile facilities in exchange for kickbacks for the placements. During this time period, 54 percent of Luzerne County youth waived their right to counsel—more than 10 times the state average; and 60 percent of these children were removed from their homes.[34]

B. National Standards

Due to the dangers involved in going through delinquency proceedings without an attorney, national standards urge that youth be prevented from waiving their right to a lawyer without first having a full discussion with an attorney about the possible consequences:

    • The ABA recommends that juvenile waiver of counsel be prohibited.[35]
    • The National Juvenile Defense Standards oppose juvenile waiver of counsel unless the youth is required to meet with a juvenile attorney to discuss it prior to waiver.[36]
    • The National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ) states in its juvenile delinquency guidelines that judges should be “extremely reluctant” to allow youth in delinquency cases to waive their right to counsel, and that youth should first consult with counsel regarding this decision.[37]

C. Current State Practices

While youth in most states are allowed to waive the right to counsel, a large number of states have set limits on this practice, creating a national trend to increase protections for youth. The types of limitations states have implemented vary widely and include the following:

    • waiver is prohibited under certain circumstances, based on the youth’s age or type of offense:
    • a presumption against waiver in the law that can only be rebutted by a formal hearing in which the youth is represented by counsel;
    • the youth must have a meaningful consultation with an attorney before waiving the assistance of counsel;
    • parents must be present, concur, or be consulted; and
    • the court must find the waiver to be knowing and voluntary.[38]

Examples of some of these limitations are detailed below.

+ Strategies: Legislative and Court Rules

  • Pennsylvania has one of the strongest limitations on waiver of counsel. In the wake of the Luzerne County “kids-for-cash” scandal, the Pennsylvania General Assembly established the Interbranch Commission on Juvenile Justice (ICJJ) to investigate why the Luzerne County juvenile justice system failed and how to prevent similar events from occurring. The ICJJ recommended strong new safeguards regarding youth’s ability to waive counsel.[39] As a result, state law and juvenile court rules were amended to prohibit waiver under most circumstances and, where allowed, the court is required to question the youth, on the record, to determine whether the waiver is knowingly, intelligently, and voluntarily made.[40]
  • Thirteen states have prohibited waiver of counsel under a variety of different circumstances,[41] such as seriousness of offense (Kentucky);[42] if the case is such that the youth could be committed for more than six months (Montana);[43] and where the youth is under 15 years old (Wisconsin).[44]
  • New York presumes that youth are not sufficiently knowledgeable or mature to waive counsel, and only allows waivers after a hearing in which the youth is represented by counsel and the judge approves the waiver. Since enactment of New York’s law in 1978, there have been no reported cases in which a youth has been allowed to waive counsel.[45]
  • Eight states require youth to consult with an attorney before they can be permitted to waive counsel,[46] though the restriction applies in some states only under certain conditions, such as if accused of a felony offense (Alaska).[47]
  • Several states have rules regarding waivers that involve parents in the process, such as Alaska, where a parent must concur with the waiver in non-felony cases (waivers are prohibited for felony offenses);[48] some require that the court find the waiver to be knowing and voluntary (Wisconsin);[49] or require the court to make more detailed findings before allowing a youth to waive counsel (in Idaho, the court must review a large number of factors, such as youth’s age, maturity, competency, and seriousness of offense).[50]

+ Strategies: Litigation

  • Ohio – the Ohio Supreme Court held that a youth had to be counseled by a parent, guardian or custodian and consult with an attorney before being allowed to waive the right to counsel in the case of In re C.S. in 2007.[51]


3.) Adopting Standards of Practice

Juvenile defense practice is a specialized and complex area of law, requiring knowledge of juvenile delinquency laws and practice, child and adolescent development and behavior, and services and programs available to court-involved youth. Unfortunately, assessments of the quality of attorney representation for youth in delinquency proceedings across the country have found serious deficiencies.[52]

In order to ensure the effective assistance of counsel for youth and to lay a foundation for excellence in juvenile defense, national organizations have set standards of practice for juvenile defenders that an increasing number of state and local lawmakers, agencies, and offices use as guidelines in adopting their own standards.

Standards can also be used as an advocacy tool to persuade public defender systems and the legislature to provide juvenile defenders with adequate resources to do their job effectively.

A. National Standards

    • The Institute of Judicial Administration (IJA) and the American Bar Association (ABA) undertook a ten-year effort beginning in the 1970s to formulate standards for developing a high-quality juvenile justice system resulting in a 20-volume set of juvenile justice standards that were adopted by the ABA as policy in 1979-80. In 1996, the ABA published a streamlined single volume containing all the juvenile justice standards that were adopted as policy by the ABA, with case annotations showing how courts have used them.[53]
    • Developed over five years with a group of national experts, the National Juvenile Defender Center (NJDC) published the National Juvenile Defense Standards in 2012 to strengthen and clarify juvenile defense practice and policy, with an aim to elevate the practice of juvenile law and improve the quality of legal representation to youth in delinquency proceedings.[54]
    • NJDC and the National Legal Aid and Defender Association (NLADA) published the “Ten Core Principles for Providing Quality Delinquency Representation through Public Defense Delivery Systems” in 2008. The Core Principles provide guidance to public defense leaders and policymakers regarding the role of public defenders and how to provide high-quality legal representation for youth.[55]

B. State and Local Standards

A growing number of jurisdictions have adopted practice standards for juvenile defenders through a variety of mechanisms, including promulgating standards through bar associations and public defender systems, court rules that adopt practice standards, and legislation that incorporates standards or require an agency to promulgate standards. Below are a number of these examples from across the country:

+ Strategies: Administrative

  • Louisiana – in December, 2011 the Louisiana Public Defender Board issued the state’s first performance standards for juvenile defenders. The standards were intended to assist attorneys in providing the best possible representation for youth in delinquency proceedings and to assist in training, evaluating, and supervising attorneys.[56]
  • Florida – the Florida Bar Standing Committee on the Legal Needs of Children approved practice guidelines for attorneys representing children in delinquency cases in 2010 after reviewing national and state standards. The guidelines are meant to assist attorneys in providing quality legal representation for children.[57]
  • Massachusetts – the Massachusetts Youth Advocacy Department – the state’s juvenile public defender entity – issued performance standards to be used in evaluating, supervising, and training court appointed counsel assigned to juvenile delinquency cases.[58]
  • Pennsylvania – the Juvenile Defenders Association of Pennsylvania – a state-wide membership organization to support quality legal representation for youth in delinquency court - developed performance guidelines to “define evidence-based best practice standards for attorneys practicing in delinquency court.”[59]

+ Strategies: Judicial Leadership

  • District of Columbia – The Superior Court of the District of Columbia, Family Court, was one of the first jurisdictions to adopt practice standards for juvenile defense attorneys in 2004. These detailed rules include discussion of the role of counsel, their ethical obligations, and their duties regarding dispositional and post-dispositional proceedings.[60]
  • Nevada –The Nevada Supreme Court adopted performance standards for indigent defense in April of 2009. It includes a detailed section on standards for defenders handling delinquency cases including the role of counsel, adequacy of time and resources, and client interviewing.[61]
  • Pennsylvania – The Juvenile Court Procedural Rules Committee has proposed new juvenile rules that would establish the role and duties of attorneys in juvenile delinquency proceedings.[62]

+ Strategies: Legislative

  • Alabama passed the Alabama Juvenile Justice Act in 2008, which set specific duties of a juvenile defense attorney in a delinquency case, such as following the expressed interests of the child, conducting a prompt, thorough, and independent investigation of the case and the child’s background, and maintaining familiarity with dispositional resources.[63] The legislation also provides that juvenile attorneys owe their clients the same duties of “undivided loyalty, confidentiality, and competent representation” that would be due to an adult client.[64]


4.) Providing Sufficient Resources and Tools for Juvenile Defense Counsel

The compensation and resources for juvenile indigent defense systems and practitioners have been woefully inadequate for many years, as documented in the American Bar Association’s 1995 report—A Call for Justice—on the state of juvenile indigent defense in this country.[65] With the economic downturn, funding for public defense has been further slashed in many states in recent years.[66] Without sufficient funding for defense attorneys and public defense systems, it can be nearly impossible for attorneys to provide effective assistance of counsel, as is required under the Sixth Amendment.

Progress is being made to rectify this situation and these reform trends are detailed below.

A. Caseload limits

High caseloads were found to be the “single most important barrier to effective representation” in the 1995 ABA report, A Call for Justice.[67] Not only do high caseloads make it difficult for attorneys to do every aspect of their job—such as meeting with clients, investigating each case, and preparing for trial—it also fosters attorney anxiety, burnout, and job dissatisfaction.[68]  Caseload limits are difficult to determine, but several organizations have recommended a limit of 200 juvenile cases per year.[69] Yet some public defenders report regularly handling much more than that – from approximately 400 cases per year up to 1,400 cases per year.[70]

+ Strategies: Administrative

  • In a 2006 ethics opinion, the American Bar Association directed attorneys faced with excessive caseloads not to accept new cases or to move to withdraw from cases.[71]
  • The National Juvenile Defense Standards recommend to attorneys: collect data and document when and how their caseloads prevent them from providing quality representation; inform community members and stakeholders of the scope of the problem; and form working groups to actively address it.[72]

+ Strategies: Legislative and Regulatory

  • Missouri – the Public Defender Commission adopted rules requiring it to establish the maximum caseloads that each office can handle without compromising effective representation and to decline additional appointments after certifying with the court that an office has exceeded the maximum caseload level for three consecutive months.[73]
  • New York – the Chief Administrative Judge adopted rules setting caseload limits for attorneys for children.[74] The legislature also passed a law in 2009 requiring the Chief Administrative Judge to establish caseload standards for public defenders in New York City[75] and these court rules were issued in 2010.[76]

+ Strategies: Litigation

  • Florida – the Florida Supreme Court recently ruled that the Miami-Dade County Public Defender’s Office could withdraw from a large number of felony cases because of excessive workloads. Attorneys in this office had as many as 50 cases set for trial in one week.[77]
  • Missouri – the Missouri Supreme Court held that the trial court had erred in appointing counsel to a public defender office that had certified to the court that it exceeded its maximum caseload cap for three consecutive months, as this contravened an administrative rule permitting the public defender office to decline additional appointments in such circumstances.[78]
  • Washington – Grant County agreed to public defender caseload limits and workload adjustments for complex criminal cases in a settlement agreement resulting from litigation against the county.[79]

B. Adequate Funding

    • Compensation
      When attorneys or public defender offices are not given adequate compensation to represent indigent youth, it not only is hard to attract and retain skilled attorneys, but it creates a disincentive to devote the time and effort needed to provide quality representation to youth. Unfortunately, the level of indigent defense funding remains “grossly insufficient” in many states, with juvenile clients faring the worst as indigent defense systems often spend the least on juvenile representation.[80]
  • Legal Resources
    Juvenile defense attorneys must have certain basic elements of professional support to conduct an adequate defense, such as online legal research capability; funds to hire expert witnesses like psychiatrists and forensic specialists; and funds to hire investigators to help uncover witnesses and physical evidence. Public defenders have historically operated with “grossly inadequate” resources of this type.[81]

Recommendations for improving funding (other than just providing more of it) vary depending on the particular jurisdiction. Defense attorneys for the indigent—and juvenile defenders in particular—often have the lowest pay in comparison to other attorneys, and have advocated to establish pay parity between juvenile defense attorneys and adult defense attorneys, and between defense attorneys and prosecutors. Additionally, advocacy has centered on creating a state-based funding stream for juvenile indigent defense in Pennsylvania and Utah, the only states in the country that provide no state money for juvenile indigent defense.[82]

Examples of strategies for reform are below:

+ Strategies: Administrative

  • Pennsylvania – The Interbranch Commission on Juvenile Justice, created to investigate the “kids for cash” scandal, recommended in its report to the legislature in 2010 that the Pennsylvania General Assembly should establish a state-based funding stream for indigent juvenile defense.[83]

+ Strategies: Judicial Leadership

  • Nevada – The Nevada Supreme Court adopted performance standards for indigent defense counsel, including juvenile defenders, that recommend that counsel ensure they have adequate time and resources for juvenile representation.[84]

+ Strategies: Legislative

  • Illinois – In 2006, the Illinois General Assembly passed legislation furthering pay parity between prosecutors and defense attorneys by requiring that chief public defenders be paid at least 90% of the salary of the state’s attorney (head prosecutor).[85]
  • Maine – In 2009, the Maine legislature established a Maine Indigent Defense Commission; one of its duties is “to ensure adequate funding of a statewide system of indigent legal services.”[86]
  • Virginia – In 2007 and 2008, the Virginia General Assembly passed laws raising the notoriously low fee caps for court-appointed counsel in juvenile indigent defense cases.[87]

C. Training Programs and Tools

Juvenile defense is a highly specialized area of law, requiring attorneys master not only criminal defense litigation, but a unique set of skills and knowledge related to representing youth, including understanding the delinquency process and knowledge of adolescent development. To help build the capacity of the juvenile defense bar, the MacArthur Foundation recently partnered with the National Juvenile Defender Center (NJDC) to launch the Models for Change Resource Center Partnership on juvenile indigent defense. The center includes a training initiative called the “Juvenile Training Immersion Program (JTIP),” a curriculum designed to help attorneys specialize in the practice of juvenile defense. NJDC has developed a corps of attorneys nationwide who are qualified to deliver the training.

In addition, an increasing number of state and local jurisdictions are implementing training programs and developing resources to help attorneys gain competence in representing youth along with standards of practice to help guide and supervise these attorneys. Examples of some of these programs are detailed below.

See the National Juvenile Defender Center website for examples of many training programs and tools developed by this non-profit organization for juvenile defenders. Examples of state and local programs are detailed below.

D. Training Programs

+ Strategies: Administrative

  • Maine, Massachusetts, and Michigan all implemented training programs for juvenile defense attorneys between 2009 and 2011.[88]
  • Pennsylvania – in 2004, the Defender Association of Pennsylvania began to organize trainings for juvenile defenders throughout Pennsylvania. They also created a listserv for juvenile defenders to exchange information.[89] They have been able to further expand the reach of their trainings by teaching participating attorneys to train attorneys in their local areas.[90]
  • Regional Juvenile Defender Centers – the nine regional juvenile defender centers throughout the country set up by the National Juvenile Defender Center offer regular trainings for juvenile defenders in the region or in states within their region and many have state or regional listservs for attorneys to seek advice from each other and exchange information.

+ Strategies: Legislative and Regulatory

  • Maine – established the Commission on Indigent Legal Services in 2009 and the commission adopted rules requiring a minimum of training for attorneys appointed to represent youth.[91]
  • Virginia – the Virginia Indigent Defense Commission has authority by statute to establish official standards of practice for court-appointed attorneys and public defenders representing indigent clients and to maintain a list of attorneys qualified to serve as court-appointed counsel. The commission implemented standards requiring attorneys to meet a number of qualifications, including six hours of training on general indigent defense issues and four hours of continuing legal education on representing juveniles.[92]

E. Training Resources

+ Strategies: Administrative and Legislative

  • A number or organizations have developed juvenile defender training materials for attorneys in their state including Florida,[93] Illinois,[94] Pennsylvania,[95] and Texas,[96] and national organizations such as the National Juvenile Defender Center have many resources for juvenile defense attorneys.[97]
  • California and Florida developed guidebooks to help attorneys, judges, and other juvenile justice professionals, understand the collateral consequences, or immediate and long-term consequences, when a youth is adjudicated.[98]
  • The National Juvenile Defender Center provides many training resources for juvenile defenders on their website here and through their new resource center, sponsored by Models for Change.
  • Professional standards for juvenile defense attorneys have been developed by the American Bar Association and more recently by the National Juvenile Defender Center. Such standards often serve as guideposts for the development of state and local standards  through judicial rulemaking,  legislative initiatives, and by public defender organizations and bar associations. These standards can also be very useful guides in training juvenile defenders.


5.) Providing Supervision and Oversight of Juvenile Defenders

A system of supervision and oversight is essential in order to ensure that indigent defense attorneys are adequately trained, competently handling their cases, and that their caseloads are not excessive. In accord with the “Ten Core Principles for Providing Quality Delinquency Representation through Public Defense Delivery Systems,” the public defense delivery system is expected to supervise and review juvenile staff “according to national, state and/or local performance guidelines or standards.”[99]

States have developed a variety of models to provide a system of training, supervision, and oversight for juvenile defense attorneys including the development of specialized juvenile defender units within public defender offices, state juvenile public defenders, and stand-alone juvenile indigent defense offices. For court-appointed attorneys, this supervision and oversight is sometimes done through implementing the standards that attorneys must meet to be appointed to handle a case.

Below are examples of some of these models:

+ Strategies: Administrative

  • Louisiana – the Louisiana Center for Children’s Rights (formerly known as “Juvenile Regional Services”) is a non-profit, specialized juvenile public defender office that serves as the New Orleans juvenile public defender. In addition to representing youth in New Orleans, it provides statewide training and resources for juvenile defenders and advocates for legal and policy reforms.[101]
  • Massachusetts – the Committee for Public Counsel Services, the Massachusetts public defender agency, developed a unit now called the Youth Advocacy Division (formerly “Youth Advocacy Project”) nearly twenty years ago. It has offices in nine locations across the state and provides delinquency representation as well as educational advocacy, psychological assessments, referrals to community resources, and a unit to train and support attorneys called the Juvenile Defense Network.[102]
  • North Carolina – the North Carolina Office of Indigent Defense Services created an Office of the Juvenile Defender in 2005. This office provides services and support to juvenile defense attorneys, evaluates the current system of representation and makes recommendations for improvement, and works to elevate the stature of juvenile delinquency representation and promote positive change in the juvenile justice system.[103]
  • Pennsylvania – the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency, through the State Advisory Group that distributes federal funds, supported a “model juvenile units” initiative. The initiative works to develop model juvenile defender units within counties that will implement strategies for providing effective representation for youth and then serve as examples for jurisdictions of similar size or with similar needs.[104]
      • As part of Pennsylvania’s model juvenile unit initiative, Luzerne County established a Juvenile Defender Unit within the Luzerne County Office of the Public Defender in 2010. It is comprised of three full-time assistant public defenders who are trained in juvenile law, a social worker, an investigator, and a secretary. Each lawyer is limited to handling no more than 200 new cases per year. The social worker prepares psycho-social assessments of youth, testifies in court and monitors youth confined to a facility.[105]


 

Notes

[1] National Conference of State Legislatures, “Indigent Defense, Counsel & Other Procedural Issues: Juvenile Justice Guidebook for Legislators” (Nov. 10, 2011), http://bit.ly/19tVJYx; PA R. Juv. Ct. P. 151, http://bit.ly/1b00Y4h

[1] In re Gault, 387 U.S. 1 (1967).

[2] Examples include Maine, Massachusetts, and Kentucky. National Conference of State Legislatures, “Indigent Defense, Counsel & Other Procedural Issues: Juvenile Justice Guidebook for Legislators” (Nov. 10, 2011): 4, http://bit.ly/19tVJYx.

[3] Juvenile Law Center, “Lessons from Luzerne County: Right to Counsel” (undated), accessed Sept. 19, 2013, http://bit.ly/17XrhXA; Interbranch Commission on Juvenile Justice, Report (May 2010): 50, http://bit.ly/1aj5v0L.

[4] Florida, Georgia, and Texas use both of these factors to determine indigency. See National Conference of State Legislatures, “Indigent Defense, Counsel & Other Procedural Issues: Juvenile Justice Guidebook for Legislators” (Nov. 10, 2011): 4, http://bit.ly/19tVJYx.

[5] National Conference of State Legislatures, “Indigent Defense,” 4.

[6] Shepherd, Jr., Robert E., ed., Juvenile Justice Standards Annotated: A Balanced Approach (Chicago: Institute of Judicial Administration/American Bar Association, 1996), 254, Part V, § 5.3 (A), at http://1.usa.gov/1gTj9t4.

[7] National Juvenile Defender Center, National Juvenile Defense Standards (2012): R. 10.3, 155, http://bit.ly/XYgDqU.

[8] Del. Fam. Ct. R. of Crim. P. 10 (a) (2).

[9] PA R. Juv. Ct. P. 151, http://bit.ly/1b00Y4h.

[10] National Juvenile Justice Network, “Seven Ways to Improve Juvenile Indigent Defense” (November 2012): 5, http://bit.ly/UulWBl.

[11] N.C. GEN. STAT. § 7B-2000 (2012).

[12] 42 PA. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 6337.1(b) (1) (2013).

[13] Marsha Levick and Neha Desai, “Still Waiting: The Elusive Quest to Ensure Juveniles a Constitutional Right to Counsel at All Stages of the Juvenile Court Process,” Rutgers Law Review 60:1 (2007):191-193, at http://bit.ly/1aZsChO; National Juvenile Justice Network, “Using Adolescent Brain Research to Inform Policy: A Guide for Juvenile Justice Advocates” (September 2012): 1, http://bit.ly/T1Fp7x.

[14] National Juvenile Defender Center, Assessments, accessed Sept. 19, 2013, http://bit.ly/1fdm8AZ.

[15] National Juvenile Defender Center, National Juvenile Defense Standards, R. 3.1, http://bit.ly/XYgDqU.

[16] Youth are more susceptible to police coercion and more in need of legal counsel when being interrogated by the police. See National Juvenile Defender Center, National Juvenile Defense Standards, R. 3.2, Commentary.

[17] Katayoon Majd and Patricia Puritz, “The Cost of Justice: How Low-Income Youth Continue to Pay the Price of Failing Indigent Defense Systems,” Georgetown Journal on Poverty Law & Policy Vol. XVI, Symposium Issue (2009): 566, http://bit.ly/16tKMD6, citing Barry Holman and Jason Zeidenberg, “The Dangers of Detention: The Impact of Incarcerating Youth in Detention and Other Secure Facilities” (Justice Policy Institute 2006), 5, http://bit.ly/16uiJn1. A study in Lucas County Juvenile Court found that when counsel were present at the first hearing for youth who had not been detained, 78 percent of the cases were resolved at that point. See National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, Juvenile Delinquency Guidelines (Spring 2005): 86 n. 23, http://bit.ly/18luSgZ.

[18] 705 ILL. COMP. STAT. ANN. 405/5-415 (2) (West 2013).

[19] National Juvenile Justice Network, “Seven Ways to Improve Juvenile Indigent Defense” (November 2012): 5, http://bit.ly/UulWBl.

[20] In re P.M.P., 200 N.J. 166 (2009)

[21] National Juvenile Defender Center, National Juvenile Defense Standards, R. 1.4 (a), http://bit.ly/XYgDqU.

[22] DC Code § 16-2304(a) (LexisNexis 2013).

[23] 42 Pa.C.S.A. § 6337 (2013).

[24] National Juvenile Defender Center, National Juvenile Defense Standards, R. 7.1 – 7.7; Shepherd, Jr., Robert E., ed., Juvenile Justice Standards Annotated: A Balanced Approach, (Chicago: Institute of Judicial Administration/American Bar Association, 1996), 91, Part X, http://1.usa.gov/1gTj9t4; “[J]uveniles charged as delinquents must be provided with legal representation throughout the course of their involvement with the juvenile justice system.” Marsha Levick and Neha Desai, “Still Waiting: The Elusive Quest to Ensure Juveniles a Constitutional Right to Counsel at All Stages of the Juvenile Court Process,” Rutgers Law Review 60:1 (2007): 178.

[25] National Juvenile Defender Center, National Juvenile Defense Standards, R. 7.5; Shepherd, Juvenile Justice Standards, 91, Part X; National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, “Juvenile Delinquency Guidelines: Improving Court Practice in Juvenile Delinquency Cases” (Spring 2005): 177-78, 181, http://bit.ly/18luSgZ.

[26] Sandra Simkins, “Out of Sight, Out of Mind: How the Lack of Post-dispositional Advocacy in Juvenile Court Increases the Risk of Recidivism and Institutional Abuse,” Rutgers Law Review, Vol. 60:1 (2007): 214, 216, http://bit.ly/18lgJCp http://lawreview.newark.rutgers.edu/vol60n1/Simkins_v60n1.pdf.

[27] Simkins, “Out of Sight, Out of Mind,” 222-23.

[28] National Juvenile Justice Network, “Advances in Juvenile Justice Reform: 2009-2011” (July 2012): 33, http://bit.ly/18lDE0d.

[29] Simkins, “Out of Sight, Out of Mind,” 221-22.

[30] National Juvenile Justice Network, “Advances in Juvenile Justice Reform,” 32.

[31] MISS. CODE ANN. § 43-21-201(West 2013).

[32] National Juvenile Defender Center, National Juvenile Defense Standards, R. 10.4, Commentary, citing Mary Berkheiser, “The Fiction of Juvenile Right to Counsel: Waiver in the Juvenile Courts,” 54 Fla. L. Rev. 577 (2002); Leslie J. Harris et al., “The Oregon Child Advocacy Project, Waiver of Counsel in Delinquency Proceedings (2010); and National Juvenile Defender Center, Assessments, http://bit.ly/1fdm8AZ.

[33] Judith B. Jones, “Access to Counsel” (Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, June 2004): 2, 8, http://1.usa.gov/1aiAdqA.

[34] Juvenile Law Center, “Lessons from Luzerne County: Right to Counsel” (undated), accessed Sept. 19, 2013, http://bit.ly/17XrhXA; Juvenile Law Center, “Luzerne Kids-for-Cash Scandal,” last modified February 2012, accessed September 23, 2013, http://bit.ly/18SVQdO.

[35] Shepherd, Jr., Robert E., ed., Juvenile Justice Standards Annotated: A Balanced Approach (Chicago: Institute of Judicial Administration/American Bar Association, 1996), 255, Part VI, §6.1 (A), at http://1.usa.gov/1gTj9t4.

[36] National Juvenile Defender Center, National Juvenile Defense Standards, R. 10.4, http://bit.ly/XYgDqU; nine states only allow waiver of counsel after the youth consults with an attorney in certain circumstances. National Juvenile Defender Center, “Waiver of the Right to Counsel,” accessed Sept. 18, 2013, http://bit.ly/16ummcB.

[37] National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, Juvenile Delinquency Guidelines (Spring 2005): 25,
http://bit.ly/18luSgZ.

[38] National Juvenile Defender Center, “Waiver of the Right to Counsel,” accessed Sept. 18, 2013, http://bit.ly/16ummcB.

[39] Interbranch Commission on Juvenile Justice, "Interbranch Commission on Juvenile Justice Report” (May 2010): 50, http://bit.ly/1aj5v0L.

[40] Pa.R.J.C.P. No. 152.

[41] Letter from Patricia Puritz, Executive Director, National Juvenile Defender Center, to Lilia G. Judson, Executive Director, Indiana Supreme Court, Division of State Court Administration (May 10, 2013).

[42] Waivers are not allowed for a variety of offenses including felonies and offenses where the judge intends to detain or commit the youth. KY. REV. STAT. ANN. § 610.060 (2) (2013)

[43] MONT. CODE ANN. § 41-5-1413 (2013).

[44] WIS. STAT. ANN. § 938.23 (1m) (a) (West 2013)

[45] N.Y. FAM. CT. ACT § 249-a (McKinney 2013)

[46] Letter from Patricia Puritz, Executive Director, National Juvenile Defender Center, to Lilia G. Judson, Executive Director, Indiana Supreme Court, Division of State Court Administration (May 10, 2013).

[47] ALASKA STAT. ANN. § 47.12.090 (a) (West 2013).

[48] ALASKA STAT. ANN. § 47.12.090 (a) (West 2013).

[49] WIS. STAT. ANN. § 938.23 (1m) (a) (West 2013).

[50] IDAHO CODE ANN. § 20-514 (5) (West 2013).

[51] In re C.S., 115 Ohio St.3d 267, September 2007.

[52] American Bar Association Juvenile Justice Center, Juvenile Law Center, and Youth Law Center, A Call for Justice: An Assessment of Access to Counsel and Quality of Representation in Delinquency Proceedings (December 1995), http://bit.ly/1bGPDZN; National Juvenile Defender Center, Assessments, accessed Sept. 19, 2013.

[53] Shepherd, Jr., Robert E., ed., Juvenile Justice Standards Annotated: A Balanced Approach (Chicago: Institute of Judicial Administration/American Bar Association, 1996), 254, Part V, § 5.3 (A), at http://1.usa.gov/1gTj9t4.

[54] National Juvenile Defender Center, National Juvenile Defense Standards (2012), http://bit.ly/XYgDqU.

[55] National Juvenile Defender Center and National Legal Aid and Defender Association, “Ten Core Principles for Providing Quality Delinquency Representation through Public Defense Delivery Systems,” (July 2008): R. 2, at http://bit.ly/19xDSP2.

[56] Annie Balck, “Advances in Juvenile Justice Reform: 2009-2011” (Washington, D.C.: National Juvenile Justice Network, 2012): 33, http://bit.ly/14cfyRU.

[57] Juvenile Justice Center, “Florida Guidelines of Practice for Attorneys Who Represent Children in Delinquency Proceedings” (January 21, 2010), http://bit.ly/15uDchC.

[58] Massachusetts Youth Advocacy Division, Committee for Public Counsel Services, “Performance Standards Governing Representation of Indigent Juveniles in Delinquency, Youthful Offender, and Criminal Cases,” accessed September 25, 2013, http://bit.ly/16Arxb1.

[59] Juvenile Defenders Association of Pennsylvania, “Performance Guidelines for Quality and Effective Juvenile Delinquency Representation” (May 2011), http://bit.ly/1dK9HbI.

[60] Superior Court of the District of Columbia, Family Court, “Attorney Practice Standards for Representing Juveniles Charged with Delinquency or as Persons in Need of Supervision” (June 2004), http://bit.ly/1eI1QOT; Laura Cohen, “New Hope Found in Practice Standards” (Chicago: American Bar Association, 2009): 3, http://bit.ly/1eI1S9u.

[61] Annie Balck, “Advances in Juvenile Justice Reform: 2009-2011” (Washington, D.C.: The National Juvenile Justice Network, 2012): 32, http://bit.ly/14cfyRU.

[62] 2012 PA REG TEXT 302573 (August 25, 2012).

[63] ALA. CODE § 12-15-202 (f) (2013).

[64] ALA. CODE § 12-15-102 (5) (2013).

[65] American Bar Association Juvenile Justice Center, Juvenile Law Center, and Youth Law Center, A Call for Justice: An Assessment of Access to Counsel and Quality of Representation in Delinquency Proceedings (December 1995), http://bit.ly/1bGPDZN; see also, Eric H. Holder, Attorney Gen., Dep't of Justice Nat'l Symposium on Indigent Defense: Looking Back, Looking Forward, 2000–2010 (Feb. 18, 2010), http://1.usa.gov/151lIXM.

[66] Susan Herlofsky and Geoffrey Isaacman, “Minnesota’s Attempt to Fund Indigent Defense: Demonstrating the Need for a Dedicated Funding Source” William Mitchell Law Review, 37:2 (2010): 576-579, http://bit.ly/171oERZ.

[67] American Bar Association Juvenile Justice Center, Juvenile Law Center, and Youth Law Center, A Call for Justice: An Assessment of Access to Counsel and Quality of Representation in Delinquency Proceedings (December 1995): 8, http://bit.ly/1bGPDZN.

[68] Katayoon Majd and Patricia Puritz, “The Cost of Justice: How Low-Income Youth Continue to Pay the Price of Failing Indigent Defense Systems,” Georgetown Journal on Poverty Law & Policy Vol. XVI, Symposium Issue (2009): 560, http://bit.ly/16tKMD6.

[69] Recommended by the National Advisory Commission on Criminal Justice Standards and Goals, and the Nevada Indigent Defense Commission. See Katayoon Majd and Patricia Puritz, “The Cost of Justice,” 560, citing Bureau of Justice Assistance, U.S. Department of Justice, “Keeping Defender Workloads Manageable” 4 (2001), available at http://1.usa.gov/1aIlQvX; also recommended by the American Council of Chief Defenders, “Statement on Caseloads and Workloads, Resolution and Report,” (2007), http://bit.ly/19kmdJW.

[70] Katayoon Majd and Patricia Puritz, “The Cost of Justice,”560, citing 2 Am. Bar Ass’n et al., “No Exceptions: A Campaign to Guarantee a Fair system of Justice for All,” 3 (2003), available at http://bit.ly/15H24D3; Am. Bar Ass’n Juvenile Justice Ctr. et al., “Washington: An Assessment of Access to Counsel and Quality of Representation in Juvenile Offender Matters,” 41 (2003), available at http://bit.ly/1aIm8mJ; Nat’l Juvenile Defender Ctr. et al., “Illinois: An Assessment of Access to Counsel and Quality Representation in Delinquency Proceedings,” 3 (2007), available at http://bit.ly/GzLKI9; and Nat’l Juvenile Defender Ctr. et al., “Mississippi: An Assessment of Access to Counsel and Quality of Representation in Youth Court Proceedings,” 118 (2007), at http://bit.ly/1bp5rRG; Judith B. Jones, “Access to Counsel” (Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, June 2004): 9, http://1.usa.gov/1aiAdqA; see also Susan Herlofsky and Geoffrey Isaacman , “Minnesota’s Attempt to Fund Indigent Defense: Demonstrating the Need for a Dedicated Funding Source” William Mitchell Law Review, 37:2 (2010): 576-579, http://bit.ly/171oERZ.

[71] Katayoon Majd and Patricia Puritz, “The Cost of Justice,”559, citing Am. Bar Ass’n Standing Comm. on Ethics and Professional Responsibility, Formal Opinion 06-441: Ethical Obligations of Lawyers Who Represent Indigent Criminal Defendants When Excessive Caseloads Interfere with Competent and Diligent Representation (May 13, 2006), at http://bit.ly/17oG6Tx.

[72] National Juvenile Defender Center, National Juvenile Defense Standards (2012): R. 10.7, http://bit.ly/XYgDqU.

[73] Mo. Code Regs. Ann. tit. 18, § 10-4.010 (2013).

[74] This rule provides that attorneys appointed to represent children pursuant to Family Court Act § 249 cannot represent more than 150 at any given time, but this is subject to adjustment based on a variety of factors. 22 NYCRR § 127.5 (2010).

[75] New York Laws of 2009, Ch 56, Part ZZ: John Eligon, “State Law to Cap Public Defenders’ Caseloads, but Only in the City” (April 5, 2009), http://nyti.ms/151nx7a.

[76] Rules of the Chief Administrator of the Courts, §127.7 (April 1, 2010).

[77] Public Defender, Eleventh Judicial Circuit of Florida, et al. v. Florida, __________ (May 23, 2013), http://bit.ly/1g0OyMB.

[78] State ex rel. Missouri Pub. Defender Comm’n v. Waters, 370 S.W.3d 592 (Mo. 2012).

[79] American Council of Chief Defenders, “Statement on Caseloads and Workloads, Resolution and Report” (2007):3, n. 4, http://bit.ly/19kmdJW.

[80] Katayoon Majd and Patricia Puritz, “The Cost of Justice: How Low-Income Youth Continue to Pay the Price of Failing Indigent Defense Systems,” Georgetown Journal on Poverty Law & Policy Vol. XVI, Symposium Issue (2009): 551, http://bit.ly/16tKMD6; citing American Bar Association Standing Committee on Legal Aid and Indigent Defendants, “Gideon’s Broken Promise: America's Continuing Quest for Equal Justice” (December 2004): 9, http://bit.ly/19TbzuH; Judith B. Jones, “Access to Counsel” (Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, June 2004): 9-10, http://1.usa.gov/1aiAdqA.

[81] American Bar Association Standing Committee on Legal Aid and Indigent Defendants, “Gideon’s Broken Promise: America's Continuing Quest for Equal Justice,” 10; see also National Juvenile Defender Center, Assessments, http://bit.ly/1fdm8AZ; Judith B. Jones, “Access to Counsel,” 11-13. (Juvenile defenders in many states reported lack of access to investigators. In 2002, only 50% of attorneys responding to the American Bar Association survey had online legal research access. Attorneys in Ohio, Virginia, Maryland, Montana, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania reported a lack of support staff, law clerks, investigators, and experts.)

[82] Juvenile Law Center, “Lessons from Luzerne County: Right to Counsel” (undated), accessed Sept. 19, 2013, http://bit.ly/17XrhXA; Debra Cassens Weiss, “Silver Lining in Threatened Lawsuits Over Indigent Defense, Says Editorial,” ABA Journal (April 11, 2013), accessed October 2, 2013, http://bit.ly/1gYUXtC.

[83] Interbranch Commission on Juvenile Justice, Report (May 2010): 49, http://bit.ly/1aj5v0L.

[84] Annie Balck, “Advances in Juvenile Justice Reform: 2007-2008” (Washington, D.C.: National Juvenile Justice Network, 2009): 20, http://bit.ly/GzLOaX.

[85] Children and Family Justice Center, Bluhm Legal Clinic, Northwestern University School of Law, and the National Juvenile Defender Center, “Illinois: An Assessment of Access to Counsel & Quality of Representation in Delinquency Proceedings” (2007): 64, http://bit.ly/16UYC1u.

[86] ME. REV. STAT. ANN. tit. 4, § 1801 (2013).

[87] Annie Balck, “Advances in Juvenile Justice Reform: 2007-2008” (Washington, D.C.: National Juvenile Justice Network, 2009): 20-21, http://bit.ly/GzLOaX.

[88] National Juvenile Justice Network, “Seven Ways to Improve Juvenile Indigent Defense” (November 2012): 2, http://bit.ly/UulWBl.

[89] Models for Change, “Innovation Brief: Raising the Standards of Juvenile Indigent Defense” (December 2011): 2, http://bit.ly/16UycB7.

[90] National Juvenile Justice Network, “Seven Ways to Improve Juvenile Indigent Defense,” 2.

[91] Me. Rev. Stat. Ann., Tit. 4, § 1804(2)(B)(2010).

[92] Virginia Indigent Defense Commission, “Court Appointed Counsel: Statutory Authority and Qualifications,” accessed September 29, 2013, http://1.usa.gov/16ebKmP. (Note that the training requirements can be waived in certain circumstances.)

[93] Juvenile Justice Center, “Florida New Juvenile Defender Attorney Manual” (2013), http://bit.ly/18qdSYT.

[94] Northwestern School of Law Bluhm Legal Clinic and National Juvenile Defender Center, “Illinois Juvenile Defender Center Practice Notebook” (Dec. 1, 2008), http://bit.ly/1c1a4kb.

[95] Models for Change, “Pennsylvania Juvenile Defense Notebook” (Oct. 23, 2011), http://bit.ly/18Liy9U.

[96] Southwest Regional Juvenile Defender Center, Texas Appleseed, and Hogg Foundation for Mental Health, “Juvenile Practice is Not Child’s Play: A Handbook for Attorneys Who Represent Juveniles in Texas” (January 2004), http://bit.ly/HXgowa.

[97] National Juvenile Defender Center, “Training” and “Publications,” accessed September 30, 2013, http://njdc.info/training.php and http://njdc.info/publications.php.

[98]
The Juvenile Justice Center, “The Florida Juvenile Collateral Consequences Checklist: A Guide for Understanding the Consequences of Juvenile Court Involvement” (May 21, 2013), http://bit.ly/GzF2mo; Models for Change, “Pennsylvania Juvenile Collateral Consequences Checklist” (May 24, 2010), http://bit.ly/1dUsP6T.

[99] Eric H. Holder, Attorney Gen., Dep't of Justice, 50th
Anniversary Celebration of the U.S. Supreme Court Decision in Gideon v. Wainwright (March 15, 2013), http://1.usa.gov/171rc2o.

[100] National Juvenile Defender Center and National Legal Aid and Defender Association, “Ten Core Principles for Providing Quality Delinquency Representation through Public Defense Delivery Systems,” (July 2008): R. 6, at http://bit.ly/19xDSP2.

[101] Louisiana Center for Children’s Rights, “Who We Are” and “What We Do,” accessed September 30, 2013, http://www.laccr.org/who-we-are/ and http://www.laccr.org/what-we-do/.

[102] Youth Advocacy Division, “About YAD,” accessed September 30, 2013, http://bit.ly/1eXmD1d.

[103] Office of the Juvenile Defender, “A Look Back and a Vision for the Future” (April 2013), http://bit.ly/17oJFt4.

[104] Models for Change, “Innovation Brief: Raising the Standards of Juvenile Indigent Defense” (December 2011): 3, http://bit.ly/16UycB7.

[105] County of Luzerne Pennsylvania, “About the Juvenile Defender Unit” (undated), accessed September 30, 2013, http://bit.ly/17oJXA2.