Why Juvenile Cases Should Be Tried

January 7, 2014 Juveniles

When I was a public defender, a major challenge was the client with a lousy case and a good offer on the table who nevertheless insisted on taking his case to trial.  He didn’t trust his lawyer to provide good legal advice.  And he often had some zany idea about what he thought was going […]

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He is 12 Years Old

January 24, 2013 Juveniles

As soon as I have the signed order in hand, I head to the “at-risk” cell block to make sure my client is released. My client’s mother, waiting in the hallway, is mad at me. She thinks her son is out-of-control and needs to be locked up, and we have been working at cross-purposes throughout […]

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“My Lawyer Told Me Not To Talk To Anyone About This Case”

November 8, 2012 Juveniles

One of the reasons I accept court appointments in juvenile cases – but not adult cases – is that the juveniles generally listen to you.  Even then, you can’t always take that for granted. It was thus very gratifying to read the following exchange described in a psychiatric evaluation for a juvenile client. When the […]

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Awareness Campaign for Juvenile Justice Issues in D.C.

October 20, 2012 Juveniles

One of the cardinal rules in environmental protection is that it is far more expensive to clean up an environmental problem after it has happened than it is to prevent the pollution from happening in the first place.  The same principle applies to “youth justice issues” in the District of Columbia. According to D.C. Lawyers […]

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A Guilty Plea at D.C. Superior Court

September 18, 2012 D.C. Superior Court

Guest Post by Emma Brush A visit to Arlington was the occasion for this undeserved opportunity of mine to post.  Originally, my Uncle Jamie had a jury trial scheduled. Knowing that I was considering law school, he thought it would be fun for me to see. Unfortunately, the court date was postponed.  Fortunately, he had […]

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Goodbye to Dana Tapper and the PDS Summer Interns

September 4, 2012 Juveniles

Summer is over, and the Public Defender Service (PDS) interns assigned to the Youth Services Center are gone. Although I never met any of them in person (they were there during the day, and I visit clients evenings and over the weekend), I will miss them very much. So will my clients. The interns were […]

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In Re D.M.: When Can You Dismiss a Juvenile Case for “Social Reasons”?

August 12, 2012 Criminal Procedure

The problem with using a canon of statutory interpretation to justify a legal opinion is that you can usually find some other canon to arrive at the exact opposite conclusion. For example, to support its recent holding in In Re D.M., 47 A.3d 539 (D.C. 2012), the D.C. Court of Appeals used the rule that, whenever […]

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Ramifications of a Juvenile Adjudication in D.C.

July 15, 2012 Juveniles

One of the questions parents of a juvenile client often ask me is the effect of a juvenile adjudication on their child’s future. The question often comes up in the context of plea negotiations. If, for example, the government has offered to reduce the charge from robbery to simple assault or theft, the parents want […]

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Probation. Drugs. School. Then Home.

April 11, 2012 Juveniles

I have a little speech I like to give to my juvenile clients. I tell them that, while I will be looking out for their legal interests as their lawyer, what happens to them pending trial or if found guilty of the offense will depend far more on what they do for themselves. I then […]

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Waiving a Probable Cause Hearing in a Juvenile Case

March 15, 2012 Criminal Procedure

“Why would ever you want to waive the probable cause hearing?”  This is what I ask the lawyer of one of two co-respondents in a juvenile case. She is brand new at the Public Defender Service, and has never encountered this situation before. It is a rhetorical question because I already know the answer. In […]

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