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In Defense of Youth

In Defense of Youth: A Study of the Role of Counsel in American Juvenile Courts

Copyright Date: 1972
Published by: Russell Sage Foundation
Pages: 260
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  • Book Info
    In Defense of Youth
    Book Description:

    In recent years the decisions of the United States Supreme Court in the area of juvenile law and the growing public awareness of the delinquency problem have brought about drastic changes in American juvenile courts.

    This book represents a major research effort to determine the effect of defense counsel's performance on the conduct and outcome of delinquency cases. After a brief historical analysis of the factors leading to changes in juvenile law, the authors explore in detail the impact of the lawyer's presence and performance on the outcomes of cases in two juvenile courts.

    The analysis further explores the various factors influencing a lawyer's defense posture and develops the thesis that the effectiveness of counsel is determined largely by the structure of the delinquency hearing and the willingness and ability of court personnel and procedures to adapt to the introduction of an adversarial role of defense counsel. What makes this study unique is the large-scale effort to combine legal analysis and sociological methodology to the study of an action-oriented program. The use of the classical experimental design, the selection of control and experimental groups by random assignment, and the extent to which the use of this methodology increases the validity of the results, will be of interest to both lawyers and social scientists. The book is a major contribution to the growing literature in the field of the sociology of law.

    eISBN: 978-1-61044-695-2
    Subjects: Law, Political Science, Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. ix-xiv)
    Richard D. Schwartz

    This work, the product of close collaboration between a sociologist and a lawyer, carries a significance far beyond the modest claims of its authors. It represents a major research effort to determine the effect of defense counsel’s performance on the conduct and outcomes of delinquency proceedings; one that combines legal analysis with social science methodology and interpretation in the study of an action-oriented project.

    With scholarly restraint, the authors have chosen quite properly to confine their analysis to a set of empirical observations made in the juvenile courts of two American cities and to impose sharp limits on the “external...

  4. Acknowledgements
    (pp. xv-xvi)
    W. V. S. and L. E. T.
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-4)

    At common law a youth who violated the law was treated much the same as an adult once it had been established that he was mature enough to be capable of forming a criminal intent. Children below the age of seven were conclusively presumed incapable of so doing. Those between the ages of seven and fourteen were rebuttably thought incapable, with the strength of the presumption waning as age increased. Youths over the age of fourteen were presumed capable of entertaining a criminal intent and were held responsible to the same extent as an adult. The procedural framework for determining...

  6. I The American Juvenile Court: Problems of Form and Function
    (pp. 5-48)

    The origins of the juvenile court movement are most commonly laid in “the humanitarian impulse and initiative of many lawyers, social workers, clergymen. and others who had become increasingly troubled by the treatment of the children under the criminal law.”¹ Doubtless, humanitarian outrage at the imposition of harsh penalties on the very young contributed to the rhetoric of the movement. Yet, if this had been the sole ground for opposition to the common law approach to youthful crime, measures short of the erection of a new system of justice would have seemed sufficient. Moral indignation may, in favorable circumstances, lead...

  7. II The Research Design and Its Implementation
    (pp. 49-62)

    Although the decision to establish legal aid offices serving juvenile courts was not unprecedented, systematic research into the effect of providing counsel had not previously been undertaken, and in this feature lies the uniqueness of the Lawyer in Juvenile Court Project. The thrust of the research reported in this book was directed to answering the following questions:

    1. Does the introduction of counsel affect dispositional outcomes in delinquency proceedings?

    2. In what manner does counsel affect the conduct of delinquency hearings? How does the traditional juvenile court, with its procedural informality, react to the introduction of an adversarial role?

    Once having decided...

  8. III The Impact of the Lawyer
    (pp. 63-96)

    It is of considerable interest to know precisely what impact lawyers have on the outcomes of delinquency hearings in view of the widely felt apprehension that, once attorneys entered the juvenile courts on a regular basis, the unrestricted use of adversarial defense tactics would subvert the special purposes of these courts. Dismissals by virtue of a legal “technicality” were matters of particular concern—the guilty youth obviously would not benefit from available rehabilitation alternatives, and society might be harmed through the return to its midst of an unregenerated and unrepentant juvenile.

    Fears of a massive increase in the dismissal rate...

  9. IV Courts as Social Organizations
    (pp. 97-110)

    As noted earlier, the personnel and procedure of the Gotham and Zenith courts sufficiently differ that each may conveniently be treated as a separate social structure. It is in terms of these differences, as they influence the project-lawyers’ performance, that an adequate interpretation of the findings of Chapter III may be formulated. Stated simply, the hypothesis is that the performance of defense counsel, and consequently his impact on the outcomes of the cases he handles, will be largely determined by the circumstances of the forum in which he appears.

    This proposition is not as startling as it might first appear....

  10. V The Courtroom Experience: Organizational Constraints on the Lawyer’·s Role
    (pp. 111-154)

    At this juncture, let us recapitulate and emphasize several points made earlier. First, the lawyers’ performances were clearly consistent within each office, which permits treatment of each office as a unit. Second, the project attorneys were all chosen for, and enjoined to pursue, an adversarial approach to the representation of their young clients. Chapter III, however, showed that the results of representation differed greatly in Gotham and Zenith, and that these variances could not be explained in terms of variations in the sample or any other element in the research design. The thesis was adopted that differences in the courts...

  11. VI The Lawyer’s Dilemma Revisited: Some Notes on the Ethical Responsibility of Lawyers in Juvenile Courts
    (pp. 155-182)

    If anyone thing is clear from this study, it is that analyses of the “juvenile court system” which presume uniformity in organization and operation within that “system” are disserved by their premises. Methods of accommodating the normative conflict inherent to the juvenile court movement vary considerably from court to court. Courts such as the one in Gotham have maintained so far as possible the spirit of the child-saving movement at the expense of “legal” norms suggested by the legislation under which they operate and the political consequences of their actions. The less traditional courts, among which Zenith must be counted,...

    (pp. 183-184)
  13. Appendix II
    (pp. 185-228)
  14. Bibliography
    (pp. 229-236)
  15. Index
    (pp. 237-243)