Illinois: An Assessment of Access to Counsel & Quality of Representation in Delinquency Proceedings
Published Sep 13, 2007, Children and Family Justice Center, Bluhm Legal Clinic, Northwestern University School of Law and The National Juvenile Defender Center
Forty years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a landmark decision: In In re Gault, the Court ruled that children accused of delinquent acts are entitled to the protections of due process of law, including the right to counsel. In the ensuing years, juvenile courts have struggled in their efforts to meet the mandates of Gault.
In anticipation of the fortieth anniversary of In re Gault, the Children and Family Justice Center (CFJC) of the Bluhm Legal Clinic of Northwestern School of Law, in partnership with the National Juvenile Defender Center (NJDC), supported by the MacArthur Foundation’s Models for Change program, agreed to conduct an assessment of access to counsel in Illinois’ juvenile justice system. The goal of the Assessment is to examine the scope and quality of legal representation of accused children in juvenile courts throughout Illinois and to provide recommendations aimed at strengthening the quality of defender services for these children. The Assessment is intended to stimulate discussion of the strengths and deficiencies in Illinois’ juvenile indigent defense systems and to serve as a tool for change.