July 31, 2013
"What I Did On My Summer Vacation": Marsha Levick Reports From the Far East
In late June-early July, my husband, Philadelphia Public Defender Tom Innes, and I traveled to Okinawa and Tokyo, Japan to teach trial advocacy, and lecture on both the American juvenile justice system and the "kids-for-cash" scandal in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania.
We were invited by the National Institute for Trial Advocacy, in association with a consortium of Japanese law schools, to teach a one-day trial skills program to a group of Japanese law students and young lawyers in Naha City, Okinawa. We conducted skills sessions in effective storytelling, as well as direct and cross examination. Twelve students participated in the one-day program, which was also observed by practicing lawyers affiliated with the Okinawa Bar Association.
While in Naha, I also delivered a lecture to the Okinawa Bar Association on the American juvenile justice system, tracing its origins from the establishment of the first juvenile court in Cook County, Illinois in 1899 to the sweeping changes in the juvenile justice system over the course of the last several decades. My lecture concluded with a discussion about the recent quartet of United States Supreme Court cases that have essentially echoed the founding philosophy of the juvenile court that kids must be treated differently from adults in our justice system, and explained how that philosophy was now grounded in a solid research base and a new understanding of children's rights under various provisions of the United States Constitution.
In Tokyo, I led a discussion about the "kids-for-cash" scandal with a group of law students, lawyers, and professors at a symposium jointly sponsored by the Waseda University Institute of Comparative Law and the Waseda Law School. During the program, I shared a brief clip and trailer for the soon-to-be-released documentary film on the scandal—Kids for Cash, produced by Robert May. The program discussion will be translated into Japanese for publication by the Law School.
Ok, so maybe this isn't everyone's idea of a "vacation," but it was certainly an experience we will never forget. Our Okinawan and Japanese hosts were incredibly gracious and generous and we extend our heartfelt thanks and appreciation for the opportunity. We believe we have made new lifelong friends; we look forward to future opportunities to learn from one another. It is our hope that cross-cultural learning experiences can strengthen children's rights and representation around the globe.
Juvenile Law Center's influence continues to expand around the globe, participating in justice initiatives in Ireland, China, South Africa, Okinawa, and Japan. Read more about our international activities here.