In a project-based practicum course, students participate in a weekly seminar and work on a project under the supervision of their professors. This project-based practicum course will focus on delinquent youth and their access to justice, right to due process, and the unique role of juvenile defense counsel after youth have been committed to the care of a government agency. Students will participate in a two hour/week seminar and carry out 10 hours/week of project work under the direction and supervision of the course professors.
SEMINAR: When a youth is adjudicated delinquent in the District of Columbia’s juvenile justice system, s/he may be placed on probation or committed to the Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services (DYRS). Commitment is theoretically reserved for the most egregious offenders, as determined by the number and severity of the youth’s delinquent charges. Although youth accused of crime are guaranteed the right to a lawyer at every “critical phase” of a delinquency case, youth routinely appear without counsel at numerous administrative meetings and post-disposition (i.e., post-sentencing) hearings where important decisions are made about their liberty interests and basic needs. Many lawyers are unaware of their ethical obligations to continue representing their client after disposition and have not been trained on the best practices for post-disposition advocacy. Other stakeholders, such as DYRS, diverge on whether lawyers must, may, or should appear at meetings and proceedings that take place after commitment.
PROJECT WORK: In the 10 hours/week project component, each student will support the defense team for one of the professors’ juvenile clients and will work with that client as a mentor and legal advocate. Students will work in pairs with a specific client. For the majority of the fall semester, the clients will be incarcerated at New Beginnings Youth Development Center, which is the long-term secure juvenile facility for DC youth located in Laurel, Maryland. Students will travel as a group to New Beginnings each week and will meet with the clients under the supervision of the professors. STUDENTS MUST BE AVAILABLE ON FRIDAYS FROM 10:30AM-2PM THROUGHOUT THE SEMESTER TO MAKE THESE GROUP TRIPS. Students will also communicate with education attorneys, teachers, and family members, in addition to attending reentry planning meetings, discharge meetings, disciplinary hearings, and administrative and/or court hearings as needed for the respective clients. Please note that due to the nature of the work, some periods will be busier than others and there may be times when students will need to work more than 10 hours in a given week. Transportation to New Beginnings will be provided.