In Defense of Juveniles: What Delinquency Attorneys Need to Know about Working with and on Behalf of Youth

Sponsored by the Judicial Council of California & Presented by the University of San Diego School of Law's Children's Advocacy Institute

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Juvenile justice is a complex and ever-evolving area of law, policy, and practice. Professionals working with and on behalf of children in delinquency cases require specialized skills, education, and training. Furthermore, children in these cases face potentially severe and enduring consequences as a result of involvement with the juvenile justice system. Juvenile defense attorneys are of critical importance ensuring that juveniles receive the care, treatment, and guidance upon which the juvenile court system is premised.

To promote competent legal representation of children in delinquency court, California Rule of Court 5.663 requires 12 hours of training for attorneys in juvenile justice proceedings. “In Defense of Juveniles” complies with this requirement, providing instruction from a faculty of esteemed and experienced professionals on a broad scope of important topics. Participants will gain foundational knowledge about the purpose of the juvenile court as well as California delinquency statutes, case law, and general court procedure. This training program will explore the duties and responsibilities of counsel for children and how these apply in various circumstances and stages of representation including pre-adjudication and post-disposition and when there is risk of transfer to adult court. The program will examine the most up to date research on adolescent brain development and offer strategies for effectively interviewing and counseling adolescents. Presenters will share information related to trauma, mental health, multi-system involvement, racial bias, and other circumstances presenting challenges for youth in order to promote research-based and culturally competent representation.

A key aspect of the juvenile justice system is the multi-disciplinary nature of the process. Therefore, sessions within this program offer training on topics relevant to the work of child welfare agencies and probation departments as well as attorneys and judges.

Next Webinar:

Thursday, April 15, 2021; 11 am-1 pm PDT

Critical Challenges: Confessions, Strikes, and Transfer

  • Robert Lu, JD

Motion practice is a key part of delinquency counsel’s ethical obligation to protect the constitutional and statutory rights of juveniles in juvenile court proceedings. This session will examine several critical challenges every defender should consider, including motions to suppress statements and evidence, and provide the legal basis and key arguments related to each challenge. The presenter will explore the application of adolescent development research to motion practice. This session will also include information on the transfer of juveniles to adult court, including an explanation of current law and procedure as well as key considerations for effective advocacy in transfer hearings.  Finally, this session will provide an overview of the complex and important topic of three strikes law as it relates to juvenile adjudication.

Register now!

MCLE: The University of San Diego School of Law is a State Bar of California-approved MCLE provider and this event has been approved for 2 hours of general MCLE credit.

BBS: The Judicial Council of California, Center for Families, Children & the Courts (CFCC), provider number 58804, is approved by the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists (CAMFT) to sponsor continuing education for licensees of the California Board of Behavioral Sciences (BBS). CFCC maintains responsibility for this program and its content. This program meets the qualifications for continuing education (CE) credit for LMFTs, LCSWs, LPCCs, and/or LEPs as required by the California Board of Behavioral Sciences.

Presenter's Bios

Robert Lu, JD

Robert Lu is the Juvenile Trainer for the Los Angeles County Public Defender’s Office.  He has worked in juvenile assignments for over half of his 15 years in the office.  He presents trainings on juvenile issues for attorneys and social workers in his office.  Outside of the Public Defender’s office, he has also presented to the California Public Defenders’ Association and the Los Angeles County Bar Association. Before becoming a public defender, he spent several years trapped in the black hole of civil discovery.  

Upcoming Webinars:

May 7, 2021; 11 am-1 pm PST
Disposition, Post-Disposition, and Probation
Presenters: Jennifer Cannady, JD and Brian Richart
Register Now!


June 11, 2021; 11 am -1 pm PST
Ethical Duties and Best Practices in Working with Youth: Considerations Related to Culture, Race, and Special Circumstances 
Presenters: Hon. Marian Gaston, Christian Bijoux
Register now!



Past Webinars

November 12, 2020
Introduction to Juvenile Court and the Role of the Juvenile Defender
Presenters: Hon. Roger Chan & Jo Pastore, JD

This session provides participants with an overview of the juvenile court and its purpose, highlighting key points in the evolution of delinquency philosophy and procedure from its origin until today.  The session will also explore the specialized role of juvenile defense counsel and the duties and core ethical obligations in the representation of juveniles. Presenters will walk through the flow of a typical delinquency case as it enters and moves through the juvenile court, providing a detailed overview of key hearings and other critical stages. Commonly used terminology will be defined and recent case law and legislation will be highlighted. Presenters will lead an interactive exploration of the concepts of zealous advocacy and client-directed representation and hypotheticals will be used to illustrate the unique role of juvenile defense counsel.

Video coming soon!

January 22, 2021
Understanding and Working with the Juvenile Client
Presenters: Keith R. Cruise, PhD, MLS & Carly Baetz,  JD, PhD

Over the past two decades, research in the fields of psychology and neuroscience have revealed a great deal about the development of the adolescent brain.  These discoveries have deepened our understanding of delinquent behavior and how adolescent brain development impacts young people’s thoughts and actions.  This research has influenced Supreme Court decisions regarding criminal culpability and has changed the legal decision-making landscape for adolescents in criminal and juvenile court proceedings. All juvenile court practitioners should be aware of the practical applications of this research to juvenile court practice. In this session, presenters will share key components of adolescent development as well as explore other essential considerations when working with youth including the impact of mental health disorders and trauma, the relevance of disabilities, and the importance of understanding the influence of race, culture and poverty when representing youth. Presenters will offer guidance and strategies for effective communication with juvenile clients throughout representation. 

Video coming soon!


Friday, March 5, 2021
Detention and Pre-adjudication Practice
Presenters: Sue Burrell, JD; Dorothy Daniels, JD; Maureen Pacheco, JD; Arthur Bowie, JD

This session provides participants with an overview of juvenile court pre-trial practices, highlighting key points in the evolution of a juvenile delinquency petition once it is filed in the juvenile court.  Presenters will provide a detailed exploration of key pre-adjudication decision-making points, including detention hearings and probable cause determinations. Presenters will review statutory criteria, case law, and practical strategies related to pre-trial advocacy. The extensive research and recent policy reforms regarding the harms associated with detention will be discussed. This session will also examine the advantages and consequences of an admission in the juvenile court and the ethical and practical obligations of children’s counsel in advising the client. Presenters will provide a detailed overview of competency law in the juvenile court, exploring the role of juvenile defense counsel to recognize and adjudicate the competency of the client prior to facing delinquency charges.  Key considerations in litigating competency are discussed.

Video coming soon!

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