Losing Hold of the Guiding Hand: Ineffective Assistance of Counsel in Juvenile Delinquency Representation

Lewis & Clark Law Review, Vol. 14, p. 771, 2010

UNC Legal Studies Research Paper No. 1623966

49 Pages Posted: 14 Jun 2010  

Barbara Fedders

University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill - School of Law

Abstract

Lawyers for children in juvenile delinquency proceedings frequently provide their clients deficient representation. In addition to failing to investigate the facts of a case and research the applicable law, they ignore relevant ethical mandates and fail to address the demands created by the unique characteristics of children. The widespread nature of substandard legal representation, combined with delinquent adjudications' serious and long-term consequences, makes it imperative that juveniles harmed by deficient legal representation have access to some form of legal redress. Yet, at present, no such remedy exists. A child who is adjudicated delinquent can theoretically bring a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel (IAC), which, if granted, results in a new adjudicatory or dispositional hearing or a plea withdrawal. In practice, however, systemic and doctrinal barriers prevent children from filing IAC claims and from receiving appellate review of those claims. As a recent survey of IAC claims in delinquency cases suggests, children file these claims in an extremely small number of cases. Moreover, courts almost never grant relief on the basis of these claims. This form of appellate review fails to provide meaningful remedies to the large number of children harmed by substandard legal representation. Although commentators have explored this problem in the context of adult criminal defendants, this Article is among the first to examine the inadequacy of the IAC remedy for juveniles. It traces the history of the grant of the right to counsel to juveniles; analyzes substandard representation's nature, causes, and extent; details systemic and doctrinal barriers facing juveniles who wish to file IAC claims; and offers preliminary proposals for reform.

Keywords: delinquency, appeals, ineffective assistance of counsel

Suggested Citation

Fedders, Barbara, Losing Hold of the Guiding Hand: Ineffective Assistance of Counsel in Juvenile Delinquency Representation. Lewis & Clark Law Review, Vol. 14, p. 771, 2010; UNC Legal Studies Research Paper No. 1623966. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1623966

Barbara Fedders (Contact Author)

University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill - School of Law ( email )

Van Hecke-Wettach Hall, 160 Ridge Road
chapel Hill, NC 27599
United States

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