The House of Representatives passed a bipartisan resolution this morning to strengthen a juvenile’s right to counsel and re-examine the way Colorado delivers justice to our youth. House Joint Resolution 1019, sponsored by state Reps. Clarice Navarro, R-Pueblo, and Claire Levy, D-Boulder, creates an interim legislative committee to study the role and inadequacies of legal defense counsel in Colorado’s juvenile justice system.
“We need to take a close look at the barriers to counsel that exist within our juvenile justice system,” Navarro said. “Protecting this constitutional right will have long-lasting consequences for our youth and significantly impact their future development.”
Juvenile adjudication impacts a child’s ability to enroll in school or college, secure a job, or buy a house, among other many other consequences, all of which affect their ability to recover from delinquency.
Defense counsels play a critical role in juvenile court proceedings, yet many families enter juvenile court without or with counsel that lacks the specialized skills and training unique to child clients. This can be the result of a gap in professional development as well as a child or family’s economic status.
The interim committee Navarro’s resolution establishes will study the role and current inadequacies of legal defense counsel in Colorado’s juvenile justice system to protect and strengthen a minor’s right to counsel. The committee will include six voting members of the legislature and up to ten nonvoting members with experience and expertise in juvenile defense.