The Elusive Right to Counsel

We are awaiting the comment period for the proposed rule to make it mandatory that all children are appointed counsel before appearing in juvenile court for a detention or initial hearing.  Waiver would only be accomplished after advisement of the rights and risks by the court, during a hearing and in writing, with the assistance of counsel.

According to the Indiana Division of State Court Administration documents for 2011, there are many counties who give pauper counsel to every child.  However, in too many counties, there is a disturbing amount of children listed as pro se in the documentation.  Children who faced the resources of the State and a trained attorney alone — some of whom were put under a wardship to the Indiana Department of Correction.

There is a cost to the taxpayers to provide pauper counsel.  Supporters of the rule argue that the cost of not supplying an attorney is greater in terms of collateral consequences of juvenile adjudications, recidivism rates, and overall economic impact.

Look for the publication of the rule for comment and make your voices heard!

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