Thursday, April 05, 2012

Ohio Supreme Court juvenile consultation rules of practice this morning continued coverage of the Ohio Supreme Court's contemplating an issue of whether to require juvenile offenders facing the possibility of detention to consult with an attorney before deciding to waive their right to an attorney.

"Current court rules," the article notes, "don't require such meetings, and the proposal is pitting youth advocates against some judges who say the requirement hinders the rights of parents and juveniles to make the decision themselves…

The proposal would make consultation mandatory for all situations where a juvenile might face detention, even for something as minor as petty theft, a push that's almost a decade old now, dating back to a 2003 American Bar Association report that found many poor children in the state routinely waived their right to an attorney. Three years later, an analysis of 2004 state data found that "an estimated two-thirds of the 147,867 juveniles who were the subject of delinquency or unruly complaints resolved in 2004 faced those proceedings without an attorney; another recent report, from the Children's Law Center, found that roughly 15% of children committed to Ohio Department of Youth Services facilities and 20% of those placed at community corrections facilities were unrepresented by counsel during their delinquency proceedings… Most of these children waive their right to counsel. They do so, however, without an appreciation of their constitutional rights and without fully understanding the consequences of their waive."

The proposed rules are part of a package being considered initially published for comment last October. The amendments were revised by the Commission on the Rules of Practice and Procedure and approved for filing. A second round of public comment was then commenced, running thru March 6. The Court could then revise and file the amendments with the General Assembly before May 1, the amendments then taking effect on July 1 unless the General Assembly adopts a concurrent resolution of disapproval before then.

According to the Supreme Court's announcement back in February, it had unanimously approved the proposed amendments for filing with the General Assembly and publication for a second comment period except for the amendments to Juv. R. 3. With respect to Juv. R. 3 -- mandating that juveniles consult with legal counsel before waiving their right to an attorney in specific cases --- the Court voted 4-3 in favor of filing and publishing proposed amendments with Justices Terrence O’Donnell, Judith Ann Lanzinger, and Robert R. Cupp voting against filing the proposed amendments.

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