News & Special Events
Dash Human Rights Conference Explores the
Protection of Children
under International and Domestic Law
Georgetown Law’s Juvenile Justice Clinic and Human Rights Institute partnered on April 11 to host the annual Samuel Dash Conference on Human Rights, this year entitled “Protecting the Rights of Children: International Norms and Domestic Opportunities.”
Professor Andrew I. Schoenholtz, who directs the Human Rights Institute, opened the day’s program by highlighting the fact that rights activists have continued their important work despite the United States’ outlier status as the only UN member state not to have ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child. During the morning panel, Georgetown Law students from the Human Rights Institute Fact-Finding Project formally released their report, “Ensuring Every Undocumented Student Succeeds: A Report on Access to Public Education for Undocumented Children.”
The keynote address was presented by Dr. Susan Bissell, who directs the Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children. Dr. Bissell used the opportunity to reflect on her many years of working within UNICEF to protect children from violence and emphasized that “we must help children live completely, wholly, safely, and with dignity.” Speaking of the new Sustainable Development Goals, she noted that “the rallying cry is clear; we need and want to create a world where it is safe to be a child.
Leading the afternoon panel of children’s rights experts, Professor Wally Mlyniec provided an overview of the international legal framework protecting children – and noted that while the United States has not yet ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the process can often take many years because of the multiple steps required under a federal system of government. He also acknowledged the political realities of the current moment.
The afternoon discussion featured a number of prominent experts who work to protect the rights of children across a range of practice areas, including Georgetown Law Alumna Amy Fettig of the American Civil Liberties Union, Marsha Levick of the Juvenile Law Center, Maria Woltjen of the Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights, and Margaret Wurth of Human Rights Watch. Each of the discussants brought their own experiences and perspectives and engaged with the students, faculty, and practitioners in attendance on the substantive and political opportunities and challenges facing the children’s rights movement.
In closing the program, Christine James-Brown joined the conference as a member of the Steering Committee of the Campaign for the U.S. Ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. On behalf of the Campaign, Ms. James-Brown announced a new #SendtheCRC initiative designed to urge the Obama Administration to send the Convention to the Senate before the end of the year.
The entire conference can be viewed here.
Dear JJC alum,
The energy that emanated from the Juvenile Justice Clinic’s 40th (or 40-ish) anniversary celebration propelled us into our new era. As you all know, Kris became the Director of the Clinic in July while Wally took on the role of Senior Counsel. Eduardo Ferrer continues to work with our students as a supervising attorney, Rhonda Pope continues to provide social work assistance, and Kaitlin Banner will assist our students with school related litigation. Our Prettyman Fellow, Nate Mensah is juggling his supervision role with his own extensive trial calendar, while helping our 1st year Prettyman Fellow, Devin Prater, adjust to her new role. Our Juvenile Defense and Policy Fellow, Lauren Dollar, will have an expanded role as we develop the new Georgetown Juvenile Justice Initiative. All of this reorganization set the stage for the arrival of our 2015-2016 students, our 43rd class, who returned for Orientation with the same vigor, energy, and enthusiasm, and a bit of the same bewilderment and apprehension that you had when you assumed your role as student attorney in the JJC. Of course, Ms. Wanda still helps us hold all of the moving parts together.
As you know, we are expanding our training endeavors under the Initiative, using the lessons we have learned from clinical education theory and from the Juvenile Training Immersion Program (JTIP) Kris developed with our partner, the National Juvenile Defender Center (NJDC). In July, we conducted our second JTIP Summer Academy which brought defenders from around the country to Georgetown for an intensive learning experience. The training sessions received rave reviews from the defenders who participated and from the faculty who helped teach it. We also hosted day-long JTIP trainings for practicing juvenile defense attorneys in Hampton, Virginia and Charleston, West Virginia.
Shortly after the Initiative was announced, we received the good news that the Department of Justice’s Office of Juvenile Justice Delinquency and Prevention (OJJDP) awarded us a grant to enhance our work. The grant, part of OJJDP’s 2015 “Smart on Juvenile Justice: Enhancing Youth Access to Justice Initiative,” provides funds to develop model juvenile indigent defense legal delivery systems; develop and implement standards of practice and policy; and develop state or regional resource centers to help enhance the quality of legal representation, leverage resources, and collect and analyze data to measure the effectiveness of specific initiatives. We will use these funds to work with our local juvenile defenders, convene monthly training sessions to engage local defenders in systemic reform, provide tips to improve their practice, and offer opportunities for strategic case planning.
The grant also permits us to provide one-on-one technical support to lawyers who confront difficult litigation issues and will allow us to create litigation resources and training materials to improve their practice. Using these funds, Clinic staff along with other lawyers from the Mid-Atlantic Juvenile Defender Center a regional arm of NJDC now be housed at the Law Center, will establish a Rural Ambassadors Program that will allow five rural attorneys per year to participate in a year-long fellowship program that provides intensive juvenile defense training. In addition, the Clinic and MAJDC will host other training sessions for juvenile defenders in rural areas throughout the Mid-Atlantic region which encompasses Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. These unique and exciting new programs will bring training opportunities to lawyers in states and counties where training funds are insufficient. MAJDC attorneys will also assess the District of Columbia juvenile defense delivery system to document innovative practices, identify systemic barriers to quality representation for youth in D.C., and develop recommendations for reform. In addition, project staff will create practice manuals and other resources for juvenile defenders and address policies in the region that prevent juvenile defenders from offering quality representation. The Clinic and MAJDC will partner with regional public defender offices and non-profit organizations to accomplish these objectives.
As we embark on these new endeavors, we are not forgetting our core mission of educating Georgetown students. The current group is working just as hard as you did to make sure our clients receive justice in the courts and improve their chances for a better life. Although crime continues to diminish in D.C. as well as in the rest of the country, we have seen an uptick in allegations of robbery. We are aware, as most people finally are, that identification testimony is not as accurate as it was once thought to be. Our students are roaming the streets looking for witnesses, developing alternative narratives regarding identification procedures, and tackling the difficult issues that arise once children are convicted. We are in the midst of our first trial of the year and have won a suppression motion during the course of the proceedings. We are hoping for the not guilty verdict our client deserves. More trials loom on the horizon before the holiday season.
As you can see, the “Georgetown Juvenile Justice Initiative” is big – bigger than anything we have tried to do before. The work you did when you were here provided the foundation for this expansion and you should be proud of that. We are turning to you again, however, because these new programs and our core mission come with costs above and beyond the means of our current annual budget. Although the grant and the generosity of those who attended the party in June have provided us a short term cushion for our work, we cannot depend on student tuition to pay for all of these activities. The only way we will truly succeed is with the generosity of alumni who believe in the vision and impact of what we do.
Your work as students and your support as alumni have made the JJC the national success that it is. We are a model for juvenile clinics around the country and Georgetown is the innovative leader in clinical pedagogy and integrating theory and practice. Several alumni and friends of the clinic have made one time or multiyear commitments to help us move the Initiative forward. While they have helped us get started, we need your help to continue our work. We hope you can fund one of these initiatives or just help us any way you are able. Our goal is to raise an additional $300,000 to fund the priorities of the Initiative each year. We have made a good start but we are asking you again to join us in this Initiative.
The future looks bright for Georgetown and for the Clinic. We can to make the future brighter for children all around the country by training new juvenile defenders at Georgetown and by helping those lawyers around the country who seldom get the support they need. Your gifts will help us move forward in this historic effort. Please consider making a recurring gift or multiple-year pledge today! Multi-year commitments help us plan for the future. You give online by visiting www.law.georgetown.edu/makeagift. Select “Other” from the dropdown menu and write “Juvenile Justice Clinic” in the special instructions box. Or you can send a contribution using the attached gift form. Whichever you choose to do, know that you are the foundation of what we have accomplished and what we hope to do in the future. Thanks for sharing our vision.
We wish you best wishes for the coming holiday season and hope you and your families thrive in the New Year.
Juvenile Justice Clinic Celebrates Mlyniec, Henning and an Anniversary
June 9, 2015 —
“I remember various investigations and misadventures,” one alumna wrote of her days as a student in the Juvenile Justice Clinic. Another alum recalled his clients. But the fondest memories were reserved for those who made the clinic what it is today: Professors Wally Mlyniec (L'70) and Kris Henning (LL.M.'97).
One hundred and seventy alumni and friends of the Juvenile Justice Clinic returned to Georgetown Law on the evening of Saturday, June 6, to celebrate a long-awaited “40-ish” anniversary of the clinic, which launched during the 1973-1974 academic year. Phil Inglima (C’84, L’88) served as master of ceremonies for the celebration, which featured reminisces and reflections from Mlyniec, Henning, Dean William M. Treanor, former Dean Judy Areen, Associate Dean Jane Aiken and many clinic alumni.
Areen recalled how the early 1970s were a changing and often turbulent time: Cambodia, Kent State, Watergate, Nixon’s resignation. Against this backdrop Areen, charged with hiring a director for the groundbreaking new clinic, chose Mlyniec, who was then just a few years out of law school. Today, he’s a leader in clinical education, the Lupo-Ricci professor of clinical legal studies and former associate dean for Georgetown Law’s top-ranked clinical programs.
Mlyniec said that Areen’s vision became “larger than [we] could imagine,” having a 40-year impact on the law, legal education, Georgetown itself and, of course, the lives of so many.
“They haunt the deepest parts of our minds…” Mlyniec said of the juvenile clinic clients, some of whom are between 50 and 60 years old today. “We don’t know what happens to them; all we can do is hope for the best.”
Thousands of young people over the years have been represented by more than 600 Georgetown Law students, including the Hon. Mary Lupo (L’74), the first student to be selected for the clinic in 1973; supporters Lynn Hiestand (L’75) and Elizabeth Weiser (C’86, L’92); 42 E. Barrett Prettyman fellows; and Lauren Dollar (L’13), the clinic’s first and current juvenile defense and policy fellow.
Former students described some of their experiences in the clinic in a video; others wrote down their memories on cards that graced the dinner tables. Representatives from 36 of the 42 clinic classes showed up in person.
“You worked hard, and I was sometimes hard on you … sometimes you won and sometimes you lost, but you always fought the good fight,” Mlyniec told the crowd. “You fought the good fight for beleaguered young children whose lives are buffeted every day from every side, children who deserve more.”
Aiken, the associate dean for experiential education, made the bittersweet announcement that as of July 1, Mlyniec will be stepping down as director and assuming the role of senior counsel. Henning, who served as a Prettyman-Stiller Fellow at Georgetown Law during 1995-97 and returned to Georgetown in 2001 to co-direct the Juvenile Justice Clinic, will take over as director.
Henning — who received a standing ovation and much praise along with Mlyniec and longtime executive assistant Wanda Duarte — described the work of the clinic going forward, including the new Georgetown Juvenile Justice Initiative to train practicing attorneys and shape policy. (For more information, click here.) “The end game is to win for all the kids,” Henning said.
As Areen noted, the actions we take today might be still sending ripples into the future 40 years later. “I did the indispensable thing … I hired Wally Mlyniec, …” she said. “I want to wish you the joy of celebrating 40 years from now something you are working on today.”
SEALING JUVENILE RECORDS MANUAL PUBLISHED
The Georgetown Law Juvenile Justice Clinic has published a guide to sealing juvenile records in the District of Columbia. The manual is available to juvenile defenders, as well as to youth and their families. The manual includes an outline of the various statutory mechanisms by which one can seal juvenile records in DC, the reasons to seal your record, sample motions, and step-by-step instructions. Please contact Lauren Dollar at email@example.com to request a copy.
JTIP SUMMER ACADEMY 2014
June 22-28, 2014
The Juvenile Justice Clinic and the National Juvenile Defender Center (NJDC) convened the inaugural weeklong Juvenile Training Immersion Program (JTIP) Summer Academy 2014 at Georgetown Law from June 22-28, 2014. The Academy provided comprehensive training on substantive law and litigation skills for new and experienced juvenile defenders, aiming to raise the quality of representation for accused youth nationwide.
Juvenile defenders from 28 states attended, working closely with 12 certified JTIP trainers. The training utilized the 40-volume JTIP national training curriculum that was developed by the National Juvenile Defender Center and funded by the MacArthur Foundation. Georgetown Law and the Juvenile Justice Clinic's own Kristin Henning was a lead author of the curriculum.
"The JTIP curriculum has already begun to raise the quality of indigent defense representation for children in the United States," said Henning. "We were thrilled to partner with the National Juvenile Defender Center to continue this important work."
DC JUVENILE PANEL TRIAL PRACTICE GROUP MARKS 8 MONTHS
The DC Juvenile Panel Trial Practice Group marked it's 8 month anniversary in July 2014, offering monthly CLE trainings and biweekly newsletters with case law updates from the DC Court of Appeals and a helpful practice tip to the court-appointed DC bar. Training topics have included managing the juvenile caseload, common ethical dilemmas facing the juvenile defender, challenging identification evidence, investigation and social media, sealing juvenile records, and making creative detention and disposition arguments. The next CLE workshop will take place Fall 2014. Stay tuned for further information.
47th ANNIVERSARY OF IN RE GAULT
On May 15, 1967, the United States Supreme Court decided the case of In re Gerald Gault. The Gault case held that children were "persons" under the United States Constitution, and as such must be treated fairly when they are deprived of their liberty. Specifically, the Court ruled that children subject to juvenile court proceedings were entitled to notice of the charges against them, had a right to counsel, possessed the privilege against self incrimination, and were entitled to confront and cross examine their accusers. Now 47 years later, we celebrate this landmark decision.
Georgetown's Juvenile Justice Clinic was founded in 1973, a mere six years after the Supreme Court's landmark decision. One of the first law school-based legal clinics specializing in children's issues, the Georgetown Juvenile Justice Clinic and its staff seek to fulfill the mandates of the Gault decision, to expand the legal rights of children, and to insure that children are protected from maltreatment by their parents or the government.
Today, many children receive excellent legal representation, but many do not. Despite the unequivocal mandate of Gault, many ethical and practical challenges still confront children accused of crimes and their defense lawyers. Juvenile and family courts are often deprived of important information related to whether a youth is actually guilty of a crime. Indeed, in some states, the right to counsel is honored more in the breech than in reality, thus ensuring the conviction of innocent children. As we celebrate the anniversary of this landmark case, judges, lawyers, legislators, and the public need to renew the promise of In re Gault and ensure that 47 more years do not pass before its complete implementation.
- Implementing Miller: Challenging Juvenile LWOP Conference (11/14/12 & 11/15/12)
- "Keeping Children in the Community" Conference (7/13/10)
- Colloquium on U.N. Convention on Rights of the Child (6/1/09 & 6/2/09)
- Symposium on the Intersection of Poverty and Delinquency (3/26/09)
- A Call to Action for Juvenile Justice, a Town Hall Meeting (11/6/08)
- Youth Transferred to Adult Court: "The Effect on Public Safety, Recidivism, and Rehabilitation" Conference (7/21/08)
- Commemorative event for In re Gault (4/14/08)
- U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child (11/16/07)
- After Roper v. Simmons (1/24/06)