By Magistrate Joanie Raymond and Erica I. LeMon, Esq.
These are tips Juvenile Judges and Magistrates want lawyers to know.
- Try to speak with the Department of Juvenile Services, the Respondent, and family prior to Court. This is especially important while many juvenile proceedings are virtual.
- An individualized plan of juvenile services is the core opportunity for successful outcomes for youth — including trauma informed/trauma responsive services, robust education, employment and life-skill services, mental health services for youth and caregivers, substance counseling that actually meet a youth’s needs and opportunities, consistently offered and received. The goal for every youth is to become the best authentic version of themselves.
- Let your child clients know you have heard them! Find out who their champions are (parent, grandparent, aunt, coach, teacher, etc.), what their strengths are, and what their passions are. In looking at those champions, strengths and passions, see how to present and ask for things in accordance with those strengths and passions.
- Please have your client (if you are representing the Respondent) dress appropriately for Court — whether on Zoom or in person, including not wearing gang colors. The Court notices these things.
- If you are going to cite a case to Court, please bring a copy for the other side as well as the Bench.
- If you are suggesting a program that is unfamiliar to the Court and/or Department of Juvenile Services, consider having someone from the program available to answer questions.
- In preparation for delinquency disposition(s), compassionately encourage youth and their family to participate fully and thoughtfully in all evaluation efforts and resulting recommendations. Comprehensive, honest information about a youth’s life experience is the only basis for sound evidence-based evaluations and recommendations for delinquency dispositions and associated formative and reformative juvenile services.
- Please have a proposed Order for your position in the case with you in Court — it avoids delays, if the Court rules in your favor.
- Encourage youth to find and to read the age-appropriate, life-affirming books they can’t put down: “Read, read and never stop reading the books, articles, any written material you can’t put down!” Our passion for living productively as the best version of ourselves, and optimizing brain and heart function to do so, requires purposeful, sustained exercise — one vital form of which is READING, READING and more READING of things that nurture our very being to its best potential. Adopting a realistic, simple plan for regular independent reading is vital to self-discovery, mindful awareness, and the happiness we all pursue and deserve.
- If you have the Crossover program in your jurisdiction, advocate for your client for the best from both agencies: Department of Juvenile Services and Department of Social Services. Familiarize yourself with what each program offers if you don’t regularly practice delinquency or Children in Need of Assistance. Consult with the Children in Need of Assistance attorney.
Special thanks to the Honorable Robert Kershaw, the Honorable Richard Sandy and Magistrate Stephanie Porter.
Magistrate Joanie Raymond sits on the Circuit Court for Frederick County.
Erica I. LeMon is Director of Advocacy for Maryland Legal Aid.