Every year, juvenile court judges from around California convene for a two-day training put on by the Administrative Office of the Courts, Center for Judicial Education and Research. YLC Staff Attorney Sue Burrell was invited to this year’s event, to be part of a two-part workshop on juvenile competence to stand trial. The first part of the workshop featured Dr. Fran Lexcen, a Washington state psychologist who spoke about assessment of incompetence to stand trial in juveniles, and Connie Chu, an attorney at Disability Rights California, who spoke about services available to help youth with developmental disabilities and mental disorders to attain competence.
The second part of the workshop focused on legal issues, and Sue presented with Commissioner Robert Leventer from Los Angeles County; Judge Cheryl Kersey from San Bernardino County, and Rick Lewkowitz, from the Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office. The workshop was timely because judges are starting to grapple with a next layer of issues now that many of the threshold issues in juvenile competence have been resolved by the enactment of Welfare and Institutions Code section 709. The emerging issues relate to use of experts in juvenile competence proceedings, burden of proof in competence proceedings, how to informally resolve cases in which it may be advantageous not to pursue formal competence proceedings; and how to access services to assist in the attainment of competence.
In anticipation of the event, Sue updated YLC’s Protocol for Competence in California Juvenile Delinquency Proceedings, and prepared a chart on how to fund services for potentially incompetent youth. The workshop took place November 29, 2012 at the Juvenile Law Institute in San Diego.