Juvenile Department

"[N]either the Fourteenth Amendment nor the Bill of Rights is for adults alone."
In re Gault, 387 U.S. 1 (1967)
JDAI training in Philadelphia


The Ohio Public Defender Juvenile Department is a leader in effective advocacy for children in Ohio’s justice system. The Juvenile Department is a team of talented professionals focused primarily on post-disposition advocacy and ensuring that the constitutional rights of children are fully realized and protected. We steadily work toward a holistic approach to helping youth in the justice system and believe that the value of our advocacy extends beyond a child’s duration of confinement. The Department strives to remain at the forefront of the struggle for systemic improvement in juvenile justice through statewide and national collaboration; and involvement in policy, education, professional development, and reform initiatives. Our commitment to these efforts protect children’s right to be represented by counsel, raises the quality of representation, and promotes the just and humane treatment of children in the legal system.

About the Juvenile Department

The Juvenile Department provides access to the courts for children who have been committed to the Ohio Department of Youth Services (ODYS). Juvenile Department attorneys provide legal assistance and representation that begins with a legal orientation during the intake process. Attorneys may then represent children by gathering legal information; correcting sentence errors; filing detention credit and judicial release motions; on appeal and post-conviction matters in state and federal court; during sex offender registration hearings that may include classification, review, or declassification; and when a child’s case is remanded for new trial proceedings.
Juvenile Department attorneys provide assistance to children in ODYS on conditions of confinement matters, which includes responding to requests for assistance, reviewing fact investigations, determining whether the child’s conditions of confinement claim has merit, and referring the child to a private attorney for direct representation on their claim. If no private attorney accepts the case within a reasonable time, the attorney will prepare pro se pleadings, including a complaint, a motion for appointment of counsel, and other applicable pleadings. Attorneys also advocate for children during discipline and release reviews to the ODYS Release Authority, which impacts the child’s length of stay and release date.
The Juvenile Department also provides legal assistance for children who have been bound over to be tried as an adult, and convicted and sentenced to the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction. This representation includes a legal orientation during the intake process, and may include jail time credit, judicial release, appeal, or post-conviction.
In addition to direct representation, the Juvenile Department coordinates with and provides training to defense attorneys who handle juvenile work around the state, and provides systemic and legislative advocacy on right to counsel, quality of defense representation, and other substantive issues involving children in the criminal and juvenile justice systems.

Juvenile Department History

In 1993, OPD first created a Juvenile Section, a sub-part of the Legal Department, in cooperation with the Ohio Department of Youth Services (ODYS). In 2002, the Juvenile Section won reversals for more than 50 juvenile cases due to improper procedures.
The contract with ODYS later ended, and the Juvenile Section was phased out in 2002, due to budget cuts. After the study “Justice Cut Short: An Assessment of Access to Counsel and Quality of Representation in Delinquency Proceedings in Ohio” was released in 2003 by the American Bar Association and the Central Juvenile Defender Center, the office was able to regain funding from the General Assembly that was specifically designated to re-create the Juvenile Section. Since 2004, the office has maintained a Memorandum of Understanding with ODYS, that allows our attorneys legal access to ODYS facilities and the youth they incarcerate. The Juvenile Department attorneys represent youth on fact or duration of confinement issues.
In January 2008, Ohio Public Defender Tim Young promoted the Juvenile Section to its own Department, similar in stature to the Legal and Death Penalty Departments in the office.
  • State v. Quarterman, 2014-Ohio-4034
    • Summary: The failure to challenge the constitutionality of a statute in the trial court forfeits all but plain error on appeal, and the burden of demonstrating plain error is on the party asserting it.
  • In re D.M., 2014-Ohio-3628
    • Summary: Juv.R. 24 applies in bindover hearings. A prosecuting attorney is under a duty imposed by the Due Process Clauses of the Ohio Constitution and the United States Constitution and by Juv.R. 24(A)(6) to disclose to a juvenile respondent all evidence in the state’s possession that is favorable to the juvenile and material to guilt, innocence, or punishment. The Court further held that it is an abuse of discretion for a juvenile court to dismiss a case for a prosecuting attorney’s failure to comply with a discovery order without first performing an in-camera inspection of the withheld evidence to determine whether the evidence is discoverable under Juv.R. 24.
  • In re I.A., 2014-Ohio-3155
    • Holding: Pursuant to R.C. 2152.83(B)(1), a court that commits a child to a secure facility may conduct at the time of a disposition a hearing regarding the appropriateness of juvenile-offender-registrant classification for that child."
  • In re H.V., 2014-Ohio-812
    • Summary: The juvenile court has authority under R.C. 5139.52(F) to commit a juvenile to the custody of the Ohio Department of Youth Services for a period exceeding 30 days; the juvenile court may order a commitment term for a supervised-release violation to be served consecutively to a commitment term for a new crime.
  • State v. Long, 2014-Ohio-849
    • Summary: A court, in exercising its discretion under R.C. 2929.03(A), must separately consider the youth of a juvenile offender as a mitigating factor before imposing a sentence of life without parole. (Miller v. Alabama, ___ U.S. ___, 132 S.Ct. 2455, 183 L.Ed.2d 407 (2012), followed.) And, the record must reflect that the court specifically considered the juvenile offender's youth as a mitigating factor at sentencing when a prison term of life without parole is imposed.
  • State ex rel. Jean-Baptiste v. Kirsch , 2012-Ohio-5697
    • Jurisdiction for juvenile offender registration and classification
  • In re J.B., 2012-Ohio-5675
    • Jurisdiction for juvenile offender registration and classification
  • In re Bruce S., 2012-Ohio-5696
    • Juvenile offender registration and classification
  • In re R.A., 2012-Ohio-5500
    • Right to counsel at interrogation
  • In re J.V., 2012-Ohio-4961
    • SYO proceedings
  • State v. D.W., 2012-Ohio-4544
    • Discretionary transfer
  • In re M.W., 2012-Ohio-4538
    • Right to counsel at interrogation
  • In re C.P., 2012-Ohio-1446
    • Juvenile offender registration and classification
  • In re D.J.S., 2011-Ohio-5342
    • Juvenile offender registration and classification
  • In re Cases Held for the Decision in In re D.J.S., 2011-Ohio-5349
    • Juvenile offender registration and classification
  • In re D.B., 2011-Ohio-2671
    • R.C. 2907.02(A)(1)(b) is unconstitutional as applied to a child under the age of 13 who engages in sexual conduct with another child under 13
  • In re M.P., 2010-Ohio-599
    • Discretionary transfer
  • In re S.B., 2009-Ohio-507
    • Unclassified delinquency
  • In re L.A.B., 2009-Ohio-354
    • Juv.R. 29 applies to probation revocation hearings
  • In re J.F., 2009-Ohio-318
    • Community control and suspended commitments
  • State v. D.H., 2009-Ohio-9
    • SYO proceedings
  • In re A.J.S., 2008-Ohio-5307
    • Mandatory transfer
  • In re Andrew., 2008-Ohio-4791
    • Juvenile court jurisdiction
  • In re C.S., 2007-Ohio-4919
    • Right to counsel
In 2004, a report from the Children’s Law Center found that roughly 15% of children committed to the Ohio Department of Youth Services and 20% of those placed at community corrections facilities were unrepresented by counsel during their delinquency proceedings.
In March 2006, the Children's Law Center, along with the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Ohio, and the Office of the Ohio Public Defender, filed a petition with the Supreme Court of Ohio, calling for the Court to amend the Juvenile Rules of Procedure to better protect the right to counsel for children accused of a crime.
The petition was assigned to the Supreme Court of Ohio Advisory Committee on Children, Families, and the Courts. Jill Beeler, Chief Counsel for the Juvenile Department and formerly a member of the Advisory Committee, worked with the Subcommittee on Rules & Statutes and the Workgroup on Juvenile Defendants' Access to Counsel.
In January 2010, the Advisory Committee approved the Committee’s “Juvenile Defendant Access to Legal Counsel” report. Among other recommendations, the report detailed a proposal to amend Juvenile Rule of Procedure 3 to reflect current statutory, rule, and case law requirements, as well as a new requirement that, if the child is facing the potential loss of liberty, the child shall be fully and effectively informed of his right to counsel and the disadvantages of self-representation by an in-person consultation with an attorney, and counsel shall inform the court in writing that such consultation has occurred. In addition, the report recommended that the juvenile court must inquire to determine if the child has met privately with the attorney, and shall advise the child and make findings at the commencement of the hearing pursuant to Juvenile Rule 29.
The proposal to require a child to consult with an attorney prior to waiving their right to be represented by counsel received support from former Supreme Court of Ohio Chief Justice Eric Brown and the U.S. Department of Justice Access to Justice Initiative. The changes to Juvenile Rule 3 became effective July 1, 2012. As passed, the Rule was limited to require consultation with an attorney only in felony cases. However, the Rule clarifies a child's right to counsel in the following ways:
  • Specifically lists instances in which a child cannot waive their right to counsel, including bindover proceedings; Serious Youthful Offender proceedings; and when there is a conflict or disagreement with parent, guardian, or custodian, or if the parent, guardian, or custodian asked that the child be removed from the home
  • Requires the juvenile court to inform a child of their right to counsel and the disadvantages of self-representation
  • In all felony cases, the child cannot waive their right to counsel unless they have consulted with an attorney

Video Highlights Need for Reform of Ohio’s Juvenile Justice System

This video, produced by Children’s Law Center, Inc., highlights how Ohio’s mandatory tough-on-crime laws fail Ohio’s youth, and result in low- and moderate-risk kids being incarcerated for lengthy sentences in large, warehouse-like facilities that are far from home and not resourced to respond to individual needs. As a result, many of these kids come out of the system years later, more dangerous than when they entered. This video spotlights the need for greater judicial discretion and cost-effective sentencing options that foster rehabilitation.
Part 1
Part 2

Video Highlights Litigation and Advocacy:

Keys to Creating an Effective Post-Disposition System in Ohio
This video, produced by Children's Law Center, Inc., highlights the need for reform of Ohio's juvenile justice system. During the past several years, there have been significant changes in Ohio's institutional response to incarcerated youth. This short film highlights the conditions that led to the federal lawsuit known as S.H v. Stickrath and the extensive settlement that ensued. The film also explores how the legal system can support improved outcomes for youth after they have been found to be delinquent. Juvenile justice professionals discuss the role of ongoing legal advocacy and enhanced assessment, as well as rehabilitative and reentry programming for youth post-disposition.
Part 1
Part 2

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