Client Representation

Client Stories

“Rebecca,” a 17 year-old student with diagnosed disabilities was recently suspended from her high school for non-violent behavior that relates to her disability.  Despite having notice of her disability, the school failed to provide her with the due process protections provided by federal law before instituting her expulsion.  Barton Center students are advocating for Rebecca to be allowed to return to her high school and for the school to properly evaluate her and provide her with the requisite supports and services to accommodate her disability.

“Lawrence” was arrested for obstruction of a police officer and criminal trespass.  Lawrence is a 14 year-old special education student who reads at a third-grade level, and he has no past history of delinquency.  Following his arrest, Lawrence was questioned by police at the police station where he made a self-incriminating statement.  Barton Center students successfully argued a motion to suppress that statement on the basis that Lawrence did not validly waive his Miranda rights.  Prior to questioning, the police failed to notify Lawrence of the charges against him, they did not notify his parents, and the officers did not take the special care required by law to ensure that a minor of Lawrence’s capacity properly understood his Miranda rights.

“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.


Representing the Whole Child: A Georgia Juvenile Defender Training Manual, 2nd edition
Authors: Randee J. Waldman
Publisher: Barton Child Law and Policy Center, Emory University School of Law, 2015

This guide serves a training manual and desktop resource for juvenile public defenders.

Children in Need of Services (CHINS):  A New Framework for Status Offenders
Author: Roshal Erskine
Publisher: Barton Child Law and Policy Center, Emory Law School, 2010

Crossover or Dual Jurisdiction Youth
Authors: Mary Hermann and Karen Worthington
Publisher: Barton Child Law and Policy Center, Emory Law School, 2010

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

Youth Development and the Juvenile Justice System
Authors: Don Bower, Ph.D., and Rachel Hagues, MSW
Publisher: Barton Child Law and Policy Center, Emory Law School, 2008

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.

Secure Detention of Status Offenders: Legislative recommendations to ensure Georgia's compliance with federal law and to better serve Georgia's children
Authors: Darlene Lynch, Randee Waldman, Karen Worthington
Publisher: Barton Child Law and Policy Center, Emory Law School, 2008

This policy paper outlines simple legislative approaches that would ensure Georgia's compliance with the federal mandate of reducing the secure detention of status offenders. These recommended changes would better serve Georgia's children by improving practices in the juvenile justice system and moving children out of locked facilities and into the treatment and rehabilitation services they need. In addition, the changes would help Georgia avoid potential federal penalties for non-compliance with the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act's deinstitutionalization mandate.

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 handling 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.

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