That Was The Right Decision, Judge. No Matter What I Said.

One of the first things they told us during the training for court-appointed juvenile cases was that we should never allow ourselves to become co-opted by the system. My first reaction upon hearing this was:  What the heck… Read More

Ode to My Investigator

I botched the investigation. I went to the store on Upper Wisconsin Avenue in which my client was alleged to have committed a robbery.  While there, I neglected to look for a critical piece of evidence:  whether or… Read More

Kristin Henning to Spend Semester at Yale

They warned us about her at the Public Defender Service. On the eve of her presentation at the Juvenile CJA Panel training, they suggested we spend some extra time with our reading that night because Kristin Henning not… Read More

On Recusals: Offending the Judge, Protecting the Client

A couple of years ago, a Court of Common Pleas judge in Philadelphia banned me from her courtroom for life.  Both the stenographer and her law clerk looked at me with sympathy when the judge issued the edict…. Read More

Dealing with the Parents of a Juvenile Client

My client’s mother is annoyed with me.   She disagrees with her 16-year-old son’s decision to take his case to trial, and she is convinced I am the one who talked him into it.  She’s partially right; in this… Read More

Blame the System, Not The Judge, In The Tyronn Garner Matter

What happens if I release him and he goes out and kills someone?  What happens if I release him and he goes out and gets himself killed? You know these questions are going through the judge’s mind every… Read More

A Lesser Standard for Proving Culpability in Juvenile Cases

During my first couple of weeks with the Juvenile Division at the Philadelphia Public Defender’s Office, I took what I believed to be a very strong case to trial. My client had been charged with aggravated assault against… Read More

A Message to Parents: On Venting About Your Child

You are upset when your child is arrested.  I understand you may also be angry, particularly when it is a second or third arrest.  What I can’t understand is when you go in front of a complete stranger… Read More

In Re Gault: “Constitutional Domestication” of the Juvenile Justice System

There are only a small number of criminal cases that all lawyers, even those who don’t practice criminal law, seem to know.  Although Miranda v. Arizona is probably the most famous, there is also Gideon v. Wainwright (right… Read More

Police Reports in Juvenile Cases

One of the major differences I have found between representing a juvenile and representing an adult is that, in juvenile cases, there is usually a much greater similarity between what you read in the police report and what… Read More