November 01, 2007

Experts decry what we juvy p.d.'s do with the hand we're dealt

E-mailed from the blogkeeper of I Speak of Dreams:

Study cites troubles with juvenile courts

Children accused of crimes in the U.S. juvenile court system often find themselves represented by lawyers who know nothing about their cases and under pressure to plead guilty, experts said on Wednesday.

"People would be outraged by many of these practices if they occurred in an adult system," said Cathryn Crawford of the Children and Family Justice Center at Northwestern University Law School.

She was one of the authors of a report that looked at the juvenile court system in Illinois timed to mark the 40th anniversary of a U.S. Supreme Court decision that held that children accused of delinquency are entitled to a lawyer and due process in the courts...

Reaction from one Illinois juvenile public defender:

After reviewing the study, Brian Dees, an assistant public defender assigned to Sangamon County juvenile courts, said, “I don’t think it’s indicative of what we do here.”

Dees said defense attorneys normally meet with juveniles and parents before the first court hearing. Plea bargains are not forced on anyone, he said, and juvenile defendants don’t plead guilty on their first appearance. “We like to win trials,” said Dees, who has represented juveniles for eight years in Sangamon County. “We do everything we can. I’m not sure what they’re talking about...”

1 Comment:

Anonymous said...

After having been on both ends of this type of study - on the research end, and on the practitioner end - I can say it's a whole different view down in the trenches. I certainly have sympathy towards the practitioner. There are a lot of things not taken into account, such as client cooperation (I always made efforts to contact the clients, but often times, short of driving out to people's homes and camping out on their porch, contact was limited to the morning of the hearings), and defeatist attitudes (I did do something wrong, and besides, it just gets taken off my record at 18 anyway).

Trust me, I can go on and on.

Dennis K