Client Representation

The Appeal for Youth Clinic began as an Equal Justice Works Project hosted within the Barton Juvenile Defender Clinic. In 2009, Steve Reba, who now directs the Appeal for Youth Clinic, received a Ford & Harrison Equal Justice Works Fellowship to start� APPEAL for Youth (Alleviating the Prison Pipeline by Engaging Appellate Lawyers). That project provided appellate representation of and outreach to youth who had been adjudicated delinquent. APPEAL for Youth had a three-pronged approach to address the need for appellate advocacy for children who are adjudicated delinquent or convicted of a crime when they were under the age of 17:

  • Engaging pro bono attorneys in the appellate representation of youth;
  • Representing individual youth on their appeals;
  • Developing training materials for handling appeals for these youth.

The Equal Justice Works Project sought systemic reform in Georgia through the holistic appellate representation of youthful offenders in the juvenile and criminal justice systems. Increasing the number of appeals from adjudications of delinquency was one avenue to ending the unwritten policies and practices that result in youths being committed to juvenile detention facilities. Similarly, providing post-conviction representation to youths who were tried and convicted as adults was an avenue to decrease the number of youthful offenders who languish in Georgia's prisons. These goals are now incorporated into the ongoing work of the Appeal for Youth Clinic.

Read about some of the APPEAL for Youth clients in Steve Reba's Juvenile Justice Information Exchange blog.

Client Stories

“Susan” was expelled for non-threatening and non-violent behavior that occurred on her thirteenth birthday. After the incident, the school district referred her case to the local juvenile court, whereupon Susan spent five hours in a solitary holding cell. Permanently expelled, facing juvenile delinquency charges, and forced to leave a loving foster home, this “A” student attempted to enroll in another school district but was rebuffed due to the expulsion. Barton Center students administratively challenged the expulsion, enabling Susan to enroll in the new school district and return to her strong path of learning. Additionally, we are contesting the legality of the expulsion in federal court with the aim of enabling Susan to return to the district where she had a loving foster home.

“David” had been placed in over thirty foster and group homes by the age of thirteen. Shortly after his fourteenth birthday, he was involved in an armed robbery with two older youth. He did not have a gun, did not take any property, and did not hurt anyone. Nonetheless, he received a forty-year sentence in Georgia’s prisons, meaning that his entire adolescence and early adulthood would be lived behind bars. Currently twenty-six years old, David has served twelve of those forty years. � Barton Center students are arguing for David’s release through a petition for a writ of habeas corpus.

“Robert,” a fifteen-year-old child who had only the fake worker documents identifying him as an adult, was taken to the county jail along with his adult brother. From there, the machine of Georgia’s criminal justice system churned. In the weeks leading up to his guilty plea, not even his attorney asked him his age. As such, Robert’s case was wrongly handled in criminal court, and he received a twenty-year prison sentence. Four years later, we received his request for legal services scrawled on the back of a prison flyer in a makeshift envelope. � Barton Center students successfully vacated the child’s criminal conviction and sentence.


Defending Clients Who Have Been Searched and Interrogated at School: � A Guide for Juvenile Defenders

Authors: Katayoon Majd, Randee Waldman, and Wendy Wolf
Publisher: National Juvenile Defender Center, 2010

This guide, developed by the National Juvenile Defender Center in partnership with the Barton Juvenile Defender Clinic at Emory Law School and the Youth Advocacy Project of the Massachusetts Committee for Public Counsel Services, provides a general overview of the law governing school searches and interrogations. It includes practice tips for evidence that is inadmissible because it was obtained in violation of clients’ rights.

Prosecution in Superior Court or Juvenile Court: � The Proposed Model Code’s Approach
Author: Tom Rawlings
Publisher: Barton Child Law and Policy Center, Emory Law School, 2008

White paper prepared for the Barton Center by Judge Tom Rawlings as part of a series of white papers focused on proposed reforms that were included in the State Bar of Georgia Young Lawyers Division Proposed Model Juvenile Code, some of which were included in the Child Protection and Public Safety Act.

Youth Development and the Juvenile Justice System
Authors: Don Bower, Ph.D., and Rachel Hagues, MSW
Publisher: The � University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia, 2008, prepared for the Barton Center

White paper prepared for the Barton Center by University of Georgia faculty members as part of a series of� white papers focused on proposed reforms that were included in the State Bar of Georgia Young Lawyers Division Proposed Model Juvenile Code, some of which were included in the Child Protection and Public Safety Act.

Suspending Reason: An Analysis of Georgia's Off-Campus Suspension Statute
Authors: Steve Reba and Randee Waldman
Publisher: 1 John Marshall Law Journal 1 (2008)

This law review article discusses the policy and legal implications of a Georgia statute permitting the suspension and expulsion of students for behavior that occurs away from school grounds. Despite legislative intent that the statute be used only in extraordinary circumstances, in the first four years after the statute was enacted, more than 1,300 of Georgia's children were removed from school under the provision. The article concludes that such removals fail to ensure school safety, have long-term negative consequences for children, and disproportionately impact youth of color and students with disabilities. Accordingly, the article recommends that the statute be repealed in its entirety or, in the alternative, that the statute be amended to provide clearer parameters for enforcement.

Detention Assessment Instruments
Author: Jessica Breaux
Publisher: Barton Child Law and Policy Center, Emory Law School, 2005

This research paper examines how Detention Assessment Instruments are being implemented in different states and how are such instruments contributing to detention reform. It was created for the Legislative Juvenile Code Re-Write Study Committee.

Representing the Whole Child: A Juvenile Defender Training Manual
Author: Amy Howell and Brooke Silverthorn
Publisher: Southern Juvenile Defender Center, Emory Law School, 2004

This manual for juvenile defense attorneys is a general guide to appropriate and zealous advocacy on behalf of youth in juvenile court delinquency or unruly proceedings. The manual takes a holistic approach to juvenile defense, evaluating all the factors that may have contributed to delinquent behavior to assist with proper representation and navigation through the system. The book helps juvenile defense attorneys recognize a youth's many areas of need to ensure zealous advocacy and the provision of appropriate disposition options.