Juvenile Indigent Defense Action Network

JIDAN - A project of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

Assessments conducted in states across the country have revealed serious systemic problems in juvenile defense, including crippling caseloads, untimely appointment of counsel, inadequate access to experts and investigative resources, and inappropriate waiver of counsel and use of plea bargaining.

In 2008, in an effort to support the goals of its Models for Change programs, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation created a national action network, the Juvenile Indigent Defense Action Network, or JIDAN. JIDAN is a network of juvenile defenders from eight states designed to build the capacity of the juvenile defense bar and to improve access to counsel and quality of representation for youth involved in the justice system. The four Models for Change states (Pennsylvania, Illinois, Louisiana and Washington) were joined by California, Florida, New Jersey and Massachusetts in JIDAN.

Louisiana’s JIDAN team is made up of 10 members: Dana Kaplan, the Executive Director of the Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana; Hector Linares, Assistant Professor of Professional Practice and Director of the Juvenile Clinic at the LSU Paul M. Hebert Law Center; Bobby Manning, the Juvenile Section Chief in the 4th JDC Public Defender Office; Lucy McGough, a Professor at the LSU Paul M. Hebert Law Center and member of the Louisiana Public Defender Board; Martha Morgan, General Counsel for the Office of Juvenile Justice; Josh Perry, the Director of Juvenile Regional Services in New Orleans; Majeeda Snead, a Professor at Loyola University New Orleans’ College of Law and a member of the Louisiana Public Defender Board; Jean M. Faria, the State Public Defender; Tim Webre, a juvenile defender in Jefferson Parish; and Judge Paul Young, a Juvenile Judge from Caddo Parish.

The primary goal of the Juvenile Indigent Defense Action Network is to promote change that strengthens juvenile indigent defense systems. Louisiana's JIDAN team has chosen to focus on five key areas to move toward that goal: 1) Enacting Juvenile Defender Performance Standards; 2) Seeking alternatives for the early appointment of counsel for juveniles; 3) Enacting legislation to provide that juveniles are presumed to be indigent; 4) Developing protocols for post-disposition advocacy; and 5) Developing protocols for juvenile appeals. The MacArthur Foundation has generously awarded the Louisiana Public Defender Board over $167,000 over two years to achieve Louisiana's JIDAN goals. The Louisiana Public Defender Board has contracted with Lynette Roberson, an attorney in Baton Rouge, to work as Louisiana's JIDAN Coordinator.

The 2010 Legislative Session was a prolific period for juvenile indigent defense in Louisiana. Act 593 provided all of Louisiana’s children accused of delinquent acts with a presumption of indigence. Additionally, there are now codified standards for juvenile confessions, requiring that confessions by juveniles be freely and voluntarily given, free of such influences as intimidation, threats, and promises. The legislation also requires courts to consider several factors in determining whether a child’s confession is freely and voluntarily given, including the age of the child; whether the child has been held incommunicado or allowed to consult with relatives, friends, or an attorney; whether the child was interrogated before or after formal charges had been filed; and the method and length of interrogation. Act 594 provided notification to juveniles admitting to sexual crimes at continued custody or transfer hearings that they must register as sex offenders for life. The bill also added protections against self-incrimination in mental health examinations of juveniles. Unfortunately, the immediate appointment of counsel provision did not pass but may be recommended again in the future.

Trial Court Performance Standards for Attorneys Representing Juveniles in Delinquency Proceedings were developed and promulgated (September 2011) through a collaborative process involving Louisiana Public Defender Board staff and leading juvenile line defenders, including several JIDAN team members, dedicated to the advancement of juvenile justice in the state. The standards are intended to encourage appointed counsel for indigent children to provide high-quality representation, promote professionalism and advise attorneys of actions that should or must be taken at each stage of the proceeding to protect a child’s rights. The standards were most heavily derived from the IJA/ABA Juvenile Justice Standards, the Florida Guidelines for Practice for Attorneys who Represent Children in Delinquency Proceedings, and the Louisiana Public Defender Board’s Trial Court Performance Standards for the criminal defense of indigent adults. Team members also incorporated standards, guidelines, and best practices from over 20 other sources.

The Louisiana Public Defender Board has collaborated with JIDAN partner Juvenile Regional Services in Orleans Parish to develop protocols for writs and appeals in juvenile cases as well as mechanisms to improve post-disposition representation. This collaboration includes an ambitious training program to be delivered throughout the state.

The Louisiana Public Defender Board also collaborated with another JIDAN partner, Hector Linares, Assistant Professor of Professional Practice and Director of the Juvenile Clinic at the LSU Paul M. Hebert Law Center, to develop a motion bank that can be fully integrated in the Client Management System. The project will bolster motion practice and advocacy in juvenile delinquency cases.

JIDAN joins two existing action networks that focus on (1) reducing racial and ethnic disparities in the juvenile justice system, and (2) addressing the mental health needs of juvenile justice involved youth. This links the eight JIDAN states with Colorado, Connecticut, Ohio, and Texas, which participate in the Mental Health/Juvenile Justice Action Network and Kansas, Maryland, North Carolina, and Wisconsin which participate in the Disproportionate Minority Contact Action Network.

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