The Children’s Law Center, Ohio ACLU and the Office of the Ohio Public Defender today filed a request with the Supreme Court of Ohio to strengthen the right to counsel provisions within Juvenile Rule 3 and limit the number of youth who waive the right to counsel. The request would require that all youth be appointed counsel at the earliest stage possible, and ensure that youth do not waive this right without having consulted with counsel first. “No child should navigate the juvenile delinquency system without the benefit of counsel, regardless of where they live or the nature of the charge. Ohio courts have come a long way in ensuring this happens, but this proposed rule levels the playing field for all kids,” said Kim Tandy, executive director of the Children’s Law Center.
The letter comes on the 50th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision in In re Gault, which sets forth the principle that children have a constitutional right to counsel. This decision paved the way for children to have critical rights in juvenile court. But, in some jurisdictions in the U.S., children still appear in court without an attorney. And that includes Ohio. For a copy of the request and accompanying documents, click the links below: