Student attorneys in the Juvenile Law Clinic litigate delinquency and dependency (or abuse and neglect cases) in the Orleans Parish Juvenile Court system. The student-attorneys are sworn in to practice law under Louisiana Supreme Court Rule XX. They argue all pre-trial motions, preliminary examinations, arraignments, competency hearings, and they handle the trials or adjudication hearings, and draft all writs or appeals in the Louisiana Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal, and the state Supreme Court.
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In recent cases, clinic student attorneys successfully obtained a landmark ruling on behalf of a minor client diagnosed with fetal alcohol effect; the state was ordered to devise a case plan which could be implemented statewide for other children suffering from fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) or effect (FAE). In another case, the clinic obtained a court order requiring the state to develop a policy on confidentiality for HIV-positive children in the state's custody. Recent delinquency appointments have resulted in the clinic's student attorneys challenging juvenile client competency to go to trial. This challenge has resulted in exposing an increasing number of juveniles suffering various mental health problems in post-Katrina New Orleans. Much of this work requires an interdisciplinary approach using the latest findings in adolescent mental health studies. Student attorneys have also grappled with the ethical limits of attorney client confidentiality where juvenile clients threaten suicide, or where clients acknowledge being abused at home but still seek to be placed back with their abuser. Student attorneys conduct all field investigations and witness interviews in addition to the preparation and handling of legal hearings for their clients.
The Juvenile Litigation Clinic is directed by Professor David Katner.