Fundamentals of child advocacy emphasized at Zealous Advocacy Conference 

The 17th annual Zealous Advocacy Conference, held at the University of Houston Law Center last week, provided resources that will enhance the skills of juvenile justice attorneys.

The 17th annual Zealous Advocacy Conference, held at the University of Houston Law Center last week, provided resources that will enhance the skills of juvenile justice attorneys.

Aug. 15, 2018 — Juvenile advocates had a refresher course on the basics of legal representation of children last week at the 17th annual Zealous Advocacy Conference at the University of Houston Law Center.

The symposium is sponsored by the Center for Children, Law & Policy and the Southwest Juvenile Defender Center.

"We decided to focus this year's conference specifically for juvenile defenders in delinquency court and using the Juvenile Training Immersion Program because zealously advocating for any client is important, but it is even more crucial for children," said Ellen Marrus, director of the Center for Children, Law & Policy and Royce Till Professor of Law.

"Youth in court often do not feel as if they have a voice or that anyone is speaking on their behalf. This intensive two day training will help lawyers defending young people in court be stronger advocates and produce better outcomes for our youth," Marrus said. "A strong advocate can make a huge difference in a child's life. It can change the youth's life around and set them on a path of being a productive and responsible citizen rather than continuing to be in conflict with the legal system."

The topics covered included adolescent development, the role of counsel, interviewing clients, ethics in juvenile defense, probable cause and detention, motion practice, disposition advocacy and ethics in juvenile defense. Participants also split into groups to discuss and share additional child advocacy techniques.

In addition to Marrus, speakers included local juvenile attorney Tracy Good, Travis County juvenile public defender Kameron Johnson, Andrew Meissen, an attorney at the Office of the Public Advocate, Maricopa County, Ariz., Chris Phillis, director of the Maricopa County Office of Public Defense Services, Amanda Powell of the National Juvenile Defender Center and Pam Vickrey, chair of the Utah Board of Juvenile Justice and director of Utah Juvenile Defender Attorneys.

The Zealous Advocacy Conference is the premier professional development training for juvenile defense attorneys practicing in the southwestern United States.

Attendees received 14.75 hours of continuing legal education credit with 3.5 ethics hours. Specialization credits in criminal law, family law and juvenile law are pending.

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