Strategies for Representing Juveniles in Adult Court

Three webcasts providing essential instruction for defense lawyers representing juveniles in adult court, supported by funding from the Foundation for Criminal Justice and the Ford Foundation.

in partnership with
The National Juvenile Defender Center, Juvenile Law Center, and the Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth
Age Matters: Strategies for Representing Juveniles in Adult Court
(a webcast training series) 

*FREE* Online Video Training Program 

In a series of decisions involving youth facing criminal charges, the United States Supreme Court has recognized the legitimacy and relevance of scientific research relating to adolescent brain and behavioral development.  These opinions, and the underlying science, confirm that there are biological differences between adolescents (defined as 10-24 years old) and adults. Adolescents tend to lack impulse and emotional control, are more susceptible to peer and other external influences, they generally do not engage in long term planning, and have difficulty foreseeing and appreciating consequences and assessing risks.  Abuse, neglect, mental illness, and trauma can exacerbate these challenges.  Because adolescence is a transitory time, young offenders are more likely to "age out" of errant behavior and are more amenable to rehabilitation.  In this webinar series, presenters seek to help educate lawyers on how these differences factor into their communication with, and representation of, young clients.  Lawyers will be taught about ways to contextualize youth behavior and help judges understand why a defendant may have engaged in a specific act (ranging from the underlying criminal act to waiving Miranda). Lawyers will be exposed to research, law, and investigative tips to help the court educate judges so they can appreciate how the differences between adolescents and adults should factor into every decision the court makes.

9/25/12 ~ Communicating with a Juvenile Client: JTIP Lesson on Interviewing and Counseling Youth


Speakers: Kristin Henning, Georgetown Law; Dr. Jennifer Woolard, Georgetown University

Summary: Critical to representing juvenile clients is developing an understanding that although juveniles are in the adult system, they are not simply miniature adults and there are many unique challenges to their representation. The session will help defenders become familiar with developmental features of adolescence that may impact communication with the youth client. Additionally, defenders will learn strategies to accommodate enhance or overcome developmental barriers to successful communication and interviewing. This webinar, presented with the assistance of the National Juvenile Defender Center, utilizes their JTIP* lesson to discuss how to effectively interview and counsel a juvenile client in order to pursue the client's expressed interests, enhance the client's understanding of their case and consequences of being in the adult system,  and develop a strong attorney-client relationship.

*The Juvenile Training Immersion Program (JTIP) is a comprehensive juvenile defense training curriculum with comprehensive trial advocacy strategies and substantive juvenile law, designed to provide juvenile defenders with the skills necessary to create excellence in representing youth. Developed to meet the training needs of both national and local audiences, JTIP is a dynamic, flexible program with 40 lessons which trainers are encouraged to adapt to include key state and local statutes, court rules, and case law.  To encourage interactive and dynamic learning, JTIP includes customizable lectures, exercises, hypothetical case scenarios, discussion questions, and other training tools.

9/26/12 ~ Incorporating Adolescent Brain & Behavioral Development Science into All Stages of the Criminal Proceeding


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Speakers: Cathryn Crawford, Defense Attorney/Juvenile Justice Expert; Mary Ann Scali, National Juvenile Defender Center; Dr. Jennifer Woolard, Georgetown University 

Summary: In this webcast, lawyers and a psychologist will discuss legal and evidentiary arguments lawyers can make on behalf of their teenage clients at all stages of adult criminal proceedings. Topics covered will include motions practice, challenges to criminal court jurisdiction, affirmative defenses, and jury instructions.  Presenters will discuss investigation and discovery, acquisition and use of experts and/or scientific studies, and recent developments in the law. (Bail and sentencing issues will be addressed in the following webcast)

9/26/12 ~ Strategies for Keeping Youth out of Adult Jails and Prisons: Bail, Sentencing and Post-Sentencing Advocacy


Speakers: Erin Davies, Children's Law Center, Inc. (Kentucky); Deborah St. Jean, Juvenile Protection Division, Maryland State Public Defender Moderator: Cathryn Crawford, Defense Attorney/Juvenile Justice Expert

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Summary: Pre and post-trial custody can have a tremendous effect on a teenager's development, physical and mental health, and likelihood of offending in the future. In this webinar, we address strategies for obtaining pre-trial release, avoiding placement of a teen in adult jail, incorporating psychological and social scientific evidence into sentencing proceedings, and post-sentencing advocacy.  Presenters will provide data and research on juvenile versus adult facilities, tips on investigation and document collection, techniques for obtaining and presenting evidence in support of your client's wishes to avoid adult jail / prison, and suggestions for things a lawyer can do to help minimize the harm to the incarcerated client.


The National Juvenile Defender Center (NJDC) responds to the critical need to build the capacity of the juvenile defense bar and to improve access to counsel and quality of representation for all children in the justice system.  Resources developed by NJDC are appropriate for use by defenders representing youth in both juvenile and adult court. NJDC provides support to public defenders, appointed counsel, law school clinical programs and non-profit law centers to ensure quality representation of youth and offers a wide range of integrated services to defenders, including training, technical assistance, advocacy, networking, collaboration, capacity building and coordination.

Juvenile Law Center is the oldest non-profit, public interest law firm for children in the United States. Founded in 1975 by four new graduates of Temple Law School in Philadelphia, Juvenile Law Center has become a national advocate for children's rights, working across the country to enforce and promote the rights and well-being of children who come into contact with the justice, child welfare and other public systems. Juvenile Law Center plays a leadership role nationally and in Pennsylvania in shaping and using the law on behalf of children in the child welfare and justice systems to promote fairness, prevent harm, secure access to appropriate services, and ensure a smooth transition from adolescence to adulthood.

The Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth is a national campaign working to end the practice of sentencing youth to die in prison. CFSY is dedicated to seeking a just alternative to sentencing youth to die in prison that will still hold youth accountable for their crimes. Young people convicted of serious crimes and sent to prison should have meaningful and periodic reviews of their sentences, to ensure that those who can prove they have reformed are given an opportunity to re-enter society as contributing citizens before they die.



Cathryn Crawford has been representing indigent clients and training attorneys across the nation for over a decade.  From 1998-2011, Ms. Crawford served as a clinical professor and a staff attorney at Northwestern University School of Law, where she represented clients in juvenile delinquency and criminal matters (including capital) at all stages of the proceedings (trial, appeals and post-conviction).  Ms. Crawford took a leave from Northwestern in 2007 to serve as the inaugural director of Juvenile Regional Services, a not-for-profit public defender office providing holistic representation to indigent youth charged in delinquency court in Orleans Parish, Louisiana.  She took another leave from 2008-2010 to join the John D. and Catherine T MacArthur Foundation, where she oversaw Models for Change, a multi-state juvenile justice reform initiative. She is the editor of Promise Unfulfilled: Juvenile Justice in America, (Int'l. Debate Educ. Assn. Pr., June 2012).  She co-wrote and edited both the Juvenile Training Immersion Program and National Juvenile Defense Standards, two cutting-edge juvenile defense innovations created by the National Juvenile Defender Center (publication forthcoming).  Ms. Crawford recently returned to her native state of Texas, where she continues to work in the area of indigent defense.

Erin Davies is a Public Policy Attorney with the Children's Law Center, Inc. based in Covington, Kentucky.  After graduating from law school, Erin worked for six years in Washington, D.C., including as Legislative Aide to Congressman Earl Pomeroy, as Legislative Counsel for Congressman Robert C. “Bobby” Scott for whom she worked extensively on juvenile justice and education issues, and as Legislative Director of the Campaign for Youth Justice, a non-profit dedicated to ending the practice of prosecuting youth in adult court.  Erin currently works on issues facing youth in the adult criminal justice system in Ohio.

Kris Henning is a Professor of Law and the Co-Director of the Juvenile Justice Clinic at Georgetown Law.  Kris was a Stuart-Stiller Fellow at Georgetown Law from 1995-97 where she represented adults and children charged with crime and delinquency in the District of Columbia and supervised law students in the Juvenile Clinic. In 1997, Kris joined the staff of the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia where she continued to represent clients and helped organize a Juvenile Unit designed to meet the multi-disciplinary needs of children in the juvenile justice system. As Lead Attorney for the Juvenile Unit, Kris represented juveniles in felony cases and trained PDS and court-appointed attorneys.   Kris has been active in local, regional and national juvenile justice reform, serving on the boards of the Mid-Atlantic Juvenile Defender Center and the Center for Children’s Law and Policy, and has worked as a consultant on juvenile justice reform with agencies such as the Department of Justice, the ABA and the NY Department of Corrections. Kris has written a number of law review articles on the role of child's counsel, the role of parents in delinquency cases, confidentiality, victims’ rights and criminalizing normal adolescent behavior in communities of color.  She is also a lead contributor to the Juvenile Law and Practice chapter of the D.C. Bar Practice Manual and worked closely with the Juvenile Indigent Defense Action Network to develop a national training curriculum for juvenile defenders.  Kris has traveled to Liberia to aid in juvenile justice reform and was awarded the 2008 Shanara Gilbert Award by the Clinical Section of the Association of American Law Schools for her commitment to social justice on behalf of children and service to clinical legal education. She received her undergraduate degree from Duke University, a J.D. from Yale Law School in 1995, and an LL.M. from Georgetown Law Center in 2002.  Kris has also taught at NYU and Yale Law School.

Mary Ann Scali is Deputy Director of the National Juvenile Defender Center (NJDC). She has been at NJDC since 2000 and working on juvenile indigent defense issues for over 15 years.  As deputy director she oversees the delivery of juvenile defense training, facilitates and writes state assessments of juvenile indigent defense services, coordinates and participates in numerous cross-disciplinary reform efforts, and manages a variety of projects with NJDC staff.  Mary Ann has a particular interest in the intersection of adolescent development and delinquency and has contributed to numerous NJDC publications.  Prior to working at NJDC, Mary Ann was a social worker and an attorney in the juvenile division of the Office of the Public Defender in Baltimore, Maryland. After completing her undergraduate degree at the College of the Holy Cross, she spent two years teaching at a boys’ high school in Pohnpei, Micronesia. Mary Ann also worked for a year at the Jesuit Refugee Service in Rome, Italy and spent a year teaching Baltimore City boys at the Baraka School in Nanyuki, Kenya. Mary Ann earned her JD and MSW from Loyola University Chicago where she was a Civitas ChildLaw Scholar and co-founder of the Public Interest Law Reporter.

Deborah St. Jean is the Director of the Juvenile Protection Division of the Maryland State Public Defender.  JPD monitors the conditions of confinement to ensure that facilities are in compliance with federal and state law and provides assistance and collaboration to defenders statewide.  In addition to conditions work, she handles transfer hearings throughout the State of Maryland in which children are charged as adults and seek to have their matters transferred to juvenile court.  She also handles waiver hearings in which the State seeks to have a juvenile’s case waived to the adult system.  Prior to returning to the Office of the Public Defender, she was administrative class counsel in one of the largest class action lawsuits against the Maryland Department of Juvenile Services.  The Settlement Agreement involved systemic changes as well as monetary awards to 800 children who had been physically abused in the Maryland boot camps.  She also worked as an investigator on the qualitative assessments of juvenile defense practices in Maryland for the ABA.  She is Co-Chair of the JDAI Conditions of Confinement Committee for Baltimore City.

Jennifer L. Woolard is an an associate professor of psychology at Georgetown University and Interim Director of Research at the Center for Social Justice. Dr. Woolard obtained her Ph.D. in developmental and community psychology from the University of Virginia. Her research focuses on adolescents and families in legal contexts, including police interrogation, culpability, the attorney-client relationship, and the role of parents in adolescents’ legal decision making. She also works with local nonprofit agencies to study community change and youth violence prevention. Dr. Woolard has also published on the prevention of child abuse and neglect, policy regarding female delinquency, and mental health needs of juvenile delinquents. Her recent research collaborations include membership on the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Adolescent Development and Juvenile Justice. She has presented her research findings to a wide variety of academic, legal, and policy audiences, and won several awards for undergraduate teaching excellence.