The Youth Law Center works to assure that the rights of young people in the juvenile court system are protected and that they have access to skilled, knowledgeable legal counsel. Center attorneys have worked for many years with the National Juvenile Defender Center, the Pacific Juvenile Defender Center, and have worked with the California Judicial Council’s Center for Families, Children and the Courts on training, rulemaking and policy development for juvenile system professionals. YLC has also worked extensivley on specific juvenile system issues, including competence to stand trial, collateral consequences of juvenile court involvement, and practice standards for juvenile counsel.
From 2008 to 2012, the Youth Law Center led a team of California advocates as part of the Juvenile Indigent Defense Action Network, (JIDAN), a project of the John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. California was one of four states chosen to participate in its Juvenile Indigent Defense Action Network (JIDAN) part of the Foundation’s broader Models for Change Initiative.
Many youth coming before the juvenile court in delinquency cases have cognitive limitations stemming from mental illness, developmental disabilities, or immaturity. In some cases these limitations render them incompetent to stand trial — they do not understand the nature of the proceedings or are unable to assist in their defense.