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Amicus Brief Submitted for a Juvenile Appeal We Handled

Court Pillars
At Scott H. Palmer, P.C., we are humbled and honored to have had an amicus brief entered on our side for an appeal we handled in a juvenile case. The amici include Elizabeth A. Henneke from Austin,TX; Marsha L. Levick and Riya Saha Shah from Philadelphia, PA; and Emily Satifka from New Jersey. Ms. Levick and Ms. Henneke are nationally recognized experts in juvenile law. For these individuals to take it upon themselves to submit a brief for one of our appeals is huge, as it means that they believe in our argument and want to advance it. It's rare to have an amicus brief submitted for such appeals.

The amicus brief, which was filed because of the way Niles Illich and our firm handled the appeal, shows support for our argument to change Texas's policy in the way juvenile matters are processed. Specifically, the argument the amici are advancing is the need for more protections for juveniles who are being waived into adult court.

Upon appeal, we wrote a brief for our client concerning the certification of being tried as an adult. The amici want courts to use how our appeal was resolved as an example of how such matters should not be handled in the future.

The amici argued that, while the court in our client's appeal considered sophistication and maturity level when determining to move them into the adult legal system, it failed to take current child development research into account. The court should also have considered the role of peer pressure on adolescents' decision-making. Citing child development literature, the amici noted that a juvenile will more likely give in to peer pressure when in an "excited emotional state"; for instance, when involved with individuals engaged in criminal activity. Taking this information into account allows judges to fully consider the child's circumstances when making transfer decisions and lets appellate courts see what factors influenced the determination.

The amici also noted that to transfer a juvenile's appeal to adult court denies them the opportunity to take advantage of the rehabilitative services distinguishing the juvenile justice system from the adult system. Additionally, if a minor is tried and convicted in adult court, their health and safety are at risk when confined in an adult correctional facility.

The new legislation concerning certification of a juvenile being tried as an adult has not passed yet. However, the amicus brief submitted in our favor is bringing the issue to the courts' attention.

To discuss your appeal with one of our Dallas lawyers, contact us at (214) 891-3382.

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