Juvenile Appeals

The Juvenile Appeals Unit of the Youth Advocacy Division certifies and assigns qualified private counsel to represent indigent juvenile defendants in post-conviction proceedings arising out of delinquency or youthful offender proceedings.  Assignments include direct appeals and collateral attacks such as new trial motions, motions for relief from unlawful restraint, sentence appeals, motions to revise and revoke sentence, and other post-conviction matters.

Certification to Take Juvenile Appellate Assignments.

Counsel must be a member in good standing of the Massachusetts Bar and must be proficient in legal research, legal analysis, persuasive writing, and oral advocacy.  Qualifications for inclusion in the juvenile appellate panel include:

  1. Previous appellate representation of juvenile or criminal defendants in at least five (5) appellate cases; or
  2. Clerkship or similar positions in appellate courts; and
  3. Completion of the 8 hour Appeals and Post-Conviction Training Program offered by CPCS; and
  4. Completion of a three hour Introduction to Delinquency/Youthful Offender Representation for Appellate Counsel offered by YAD (to be completed at the earliest opportunity upon acceptance onto the Juvenile Appellate Panel).

To ensure quality appellate representation for juveniles, counsel must be familiar with the substantive criminal law, the rules of criminal and appellate procedure, and the recent psychological and scientific research on adolescent behavior and brain development.  The requisite knowledge about adolescent development is necessary to support juvenile-specific arguments including, but not limited to, the following:

  • competence to stand trial;
  • competence to tender a plea;
  • issues of  intent [the lack thereof] in light of the science on adolescent development;
  • application of the “reasonable juvenile” standard in contrast to the “reasonable person” standard; and
  • asserting the reduced blameworthiness and greater capacity for reform of the juvenile offender that makes him/her constitutionally different from adults for purposes of sentencing.

Counsel has a continuing obligation to stay abreast of changes and developments in the law and science that impact legal assumptions and outcomes for juvenile offenders.  Accordingly, counsel will be required to complete 8 hours of continuing legal education per annum on relevant topics and areas of the law.

Counsel should submit a letter to the Director of Juvenile Appeals describing the applicant’s interest in juvenile appellate matters.  A current resume should be included and two legal writing samples should be submitted. The applicant should include the names and contact information for two references who are familiar with the applicant’s abilities in legal research and writing, juvenile and criminal law, and/or appellate practice.  The above package should be submitted either by mail or email to:

Ryan Schiff
Director of Juvenile Appeals

Youth Advocacy Division, CPCS
84 Conz St. Rear
Northampton, MA 01060
(508) 484-5869

rschiff@publiccounsel.net

♦ Assigned Counsel Manual ♦