The brief argued that ICWA safeguards the constitutional rights at stake in child welfare proceedings for Indian children, including protecting families from unwarranted state intervention and preserving the constitutional right to family integrity. The brief further argued that ICWA aligns with state courts’ efforts to serve the best interests of Indian children and provides critical information and support to state courts.
Our brief argued that preserving the privilege of child welfare records is essential to the core functions of the dependency system, including DHS’s legal obligation to provide adequate mental health care to the children in its custody. We further argued that Oregon's privilege law provides vital protection for families facing DHS involvement, a function that is crucial given the fundamental liberty interests at stake in dependency proceedings, the high potential for harm to children and parents caused by system involvement, and the disproportionate impact of the system on communities of color.
In an important win the Pennsylvania Supreme Court held that “a minor’s refusal to confess to an act for which he or she might be criminally prosecuted as an adult may not be considered when deciding whether to certify a case for transfer between juvenile and adult court.”
The brief argued that Mr. Aston's sentence is unconstitutional under Miller v. Alabama, as he could not have been sentenced to anything less severe than life without parole. The brief further argued that the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision in Jones v. Mississippi does not affect the unconstitutionality of Mr. Aston’s natural life sentence under Miller and does not reflect a change in controlling law.
Our brief argued that because adolescents are uniquely vulnerable when plea bargaining, their decisions should not waive their ability to challenge the underlying transfer. We further argued that limiting the right to appeal an underlying probable cause determination will disproportionately impact Black youth, who are more likely to be transferred to the adult criminal system.
We argued that Jamie’s prior counsel failed to represent her effectively during her decertification proceeding. Among other failures, Jamie’s prior counsel failed to investigate, develop, or present to the court the substantial evidence demonstrating that Jamie was highly amenable to treatment in the juvenile system, including evidence of the emotionally and physically abusive nature of her relationship. The petition further argued that Jamie’s guilty plea was not knowing or voluntary due to her prior counsel’s errors during the guilty plea and sentencing process.
The brief argued that children in foster care desperately need their financial benefits, and that the law does not pose any obstacles to them receiving benefits. The brief further argued that OCS’s policy violates equal protection under the Alaska Constitution, and that plaintiffs are entitled to restitution.
The brief emphasized the significant harms that increased deductions cause to incarcerated people and their families, including that many incarcerated individuals lose the ability to pay for basic living needs. The brief also highlighted unique challenges the deductions would pose for young people, given their lack of access to economic resources.
Our letter argued that Ms. Morrison’s attorney failed to present mitigating evidence of her youthfulness and the abusive nature of her relationship during the sentencing phase of her case, despite U.S. Supreme Court precedent and American Bar Association standards that asserted the mitigating value of such evidence.
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