National Juvenile Defender Center Honors Professor Wallace Mlyniec

May 12, 2014 —

Professor Wallace Mlyniec Professor Wallace Mlyniec

Georgetown University Law Center congratulates Professor Wallace Mlyniec, the inaugural recipient of the Gault Award for Outstanding Dedication and Commitment to Juvenile Defense.

The National Juvenile Defender Center created the award to recognize individuals who have dedicated their talents and energy to improving the quality of defense counsel for youth accused of crime, and to implementing the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in In re Gerald Gault. That decision established that juveniles were entitled to the same due process rights as adults when accused of crimes. Mlyniec will receive the award on May 15 at the 10th anniversary celebration of the National Juvenile Defender Center.

Mlyniec has dedicated more than 40 years to juvenile justice. He serves on the board of the National Juvenile Defender Center, and was previously board chair. At Georgetown Law, he was an early advocate of clinical education, becoming the first director of the Law Center's Juvenile Justice Clinic in 1973. He went on to spend 16 years as associate dean for clinical education and public service. Today, he again directs the Juvenile Justice Clinic and holds the Lupo-Ricci Professorship of Clinical Legal Studies.

“Wally Mlyniec is a pillar of the Washington legal establishment,” said Patricia Puritz, executive director of the National Juvenile Defender Center. “He embodies the spirit of the Supreme Court decision In re Gault, that affirmatively applied an individual’s constitutional right to counsel to children charged in delinquency court. That is why, on the anniversary of that decision, we chose to honor Wally with the first Gault Award for Outstanding Dedication and Commitment to Juvenile Defense." 

Students in the Juvenile Justice Clinic, under the guidance of Mlyniec and co-director Professor Kristin Henning, represent youth charged with delinquency in D.C. Students learn to plan litigation strategy and analyze the law to protect the legal rights of children and to improve their chances of becoming productive adults. Mlyniec also teaches a course in wrongful convictions, which seeks to exonerate people whose convictions were improper, assists with training fellows in the Prettyman Fellowship Program, in which recent law graduates represent indigent adolescents and adults accused of crimes, and trains new teachers in clinical teaching methodology.

Mlyniec is the author of numerous books and articles concerning criminal law, the law relating to children and families, and clinical teaching methods. He is the former chair of the ABA Committee on Juvenile Justice, and has served as a consultant to the San Jose State University and University of Maryland Schools of Social Work, the American Bar Association's National Resource Center on Child Abuse and Neglect, several law schools, and the California Bar Examiners. He is the recipient of a Bicentennial Fellowship from the Swedish government to study their child welfare system, the Stuart Stiller Award for public service, the William Pincus award for contributions to clinical education, and the Robert F. Drinan Award for contributions to public interest law.

Georgetown Law's clinical program is the largest and most highly regarded in the country. It allows students to unite theory and practice by working with real clients confronting complex legal challenges. 

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