Filed a federal civil rights lawsuit on behalf of two juveniles who were subjected to excessive and intolerable isolation while in the custody of the New Jersey Juvenile Justice Commission (JJC), claiming violations of substantive and procedural due process rights under federal and state law.
Briefed the issue of constitutionality of a state certification statute that requires juveniles, in violation of their right to due process and against self-incrimination, to admit guilt in order to rebut the presumption of certification to adult court.
Challenged the court’s finding that an autistic juvenile was competent to stand trial and that there was sufficient grounds to adjudicate the juvenile delinquent based on resisting arrest and related charges.
Filed a "King's Bench petition" for extraordinary relief in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court seeking relief on behalf of the juveniles adjudicated by former Luzerne County juvenile court judge Mark A. Ciavarella during the "kids-for-cash" scandal.
Challenged J.B.'s sentence as against the weight of the evidence; argued that the juvenile court committed a palpable abuse of discretion in reaching key findings unsupported by the record; argued that the juvenile court impermissibly relied on reevaluations of fact and redeterminations of credibility in reaching its holding.
Filed a federal class action lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania on behalf of the children and families of Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, who suffered significant harm as a result of ex-Luzerne County juvenile court judge Mark A. Ciavarella and the "kids-for-cash" scandal.
Juvenile Law Center and two private attorneys filed this brief on behalf of an eleven-year-old charged with the murder of his stepmother. The brief argued that the trial court’s interpretation of the transfer statute requiring the juvenile’s confession at the pre-adjudicatory decertification hearing in order to demonstrate his ability to be rehabilitated in the juvenile system was in violation of his right against self-incrimination and rights to due process and fundamental fairness under both the Pennsylvania and United States Constitutions.
Juvenile Law Center was co-counsel in Montgomery v. Louisiana, a case recently decided by the U.S. Supreme Court holding that Miller v. Alabama (2012) applies retroactively to individuals serving mandatory juvenile life without parole sentences.
These briefs involved a thirteen-year-old student who was questioned by four adults, including a uniformed police officer, on school grounds regarding a series of break-ins. Juvenile Law Center argued that the student should have been considered in custody for Miranda purposes.
Supreme Court held the execution of juveniles unconstitutional. Juvenile Law Center’s brief argued the developmental differences between adolescents and adults in critical areas, including impulse control and understanding consequences.
One of the most important lessons from our 40 years of experience is that children involved with the justice and foster care systems need zealous legal advocates. Your support for our work is more important now than ever before.