House Joint Resolution looks to investigate due process improvement in state juvenile courts
Today, House Joint Resolution 13-1019, “Juvenile Defense Attorney Interim Committee,” is being heard in the House Judiciary Committee. The resolution would establish an interim legislative committee to study access to juvenile defense counsel and state juvenile defense delivery systems to remedy deprivations of the 6th Amendment right to counsel for Colorado juveniles.
In 2012, 45% of all juvenile delinquency cases (9600) had no defense lawyer during any point of the legal process, leaving children and families to represent themselves in proceedings that can lead to lifelong consequences. Even when counsel is appointed, it can be late in the process, when juvenile cases need early attention and intervention. The resolution follows the release of Colorado: An Assessment of Access to Counsel and Quality of Representation in Juvenile Delinquency Proceedings by the National Juvenile Defender Center.
“Colorado youth need a well-trained voice throughout the legal process,” said Kim Dvorchak, executive director of the Colorado Juvenile Defender Coalition. “With nearly half of juvenile cases having no defense attorney, Colorado needs to take a serious look at providing due process for juveniles from the moment they face legal proceedings.”
The bi-partisan resolution is sponsored by Representatives Claire Levy (D), and Clarice Navarro (R), and Senators Angela Giron (D), and Ted Harvey (R). The committee will investigate a portion of the justice system that often goes unnoticed and consider solutions for comprehensive reform.