The Los Angeles County Bar Association (LACBA), one of the largest voluntary metropolitan bar associations in the country, last year established the LACBA Independent Juvenile Defender Program (IJDP) in partnership with Los Angeles County to provide legal services to youth charged with crimes in the Los Angeles County juvenile delinquency system.

“We are extremely pleased to work with the County of Los Angeles to create the Independent Juvenile Defender Program. This innovative approach will provide a wide range of social welfare and legal services, with the goal of reducing recidivism among juvenile offenders,” said LACBA President Margaret P. Stevens.

IJDP’s Directing Attorney, Cyn Yamashiro, said, “We are implementing a best-practices and holistic mode of representing youth. LACBA’s Independent Juvenile Defender Program integrates psychological and familial assessments to identify the core reasons the minor has come into contact with the juvenile justice system. In addition, IJDP provides our attorneys with ancillary resources to support their clients, including social workers, investigators, writs and appellate support, and academic and entitlement advocacy.”

“Before IJDP, appointed counsel was required to provide all ancillary resources from a single fee awarded by the court, approximately $350. Further, the attorneys had to petition the courts for funds to provide their clients with social workers, investigators, and appellate counsel. Now, these resources are readily available to them through our program,” Yamashiro added.

IJDP attorneys are available on site daily at each of the eight Juvenile Delinquency Districts of the Los Angeles Superior Court - Compton, Eastlake, Inglewood, Lancaster, Long Beach, Los Padrinos, Pomona, and Sylmar. In instances when both the Public Defender and Alternate Public Defender are conflicted out of a case, IJDP attorneys will represent the juvenile defendant.

Current IJDP attorneys are experienced criminal defense attorneys who have extensive juvenile and adult trial experience. Those attorneys who wish to join IJDP must complete a specific curriculum designed to insure competence in the juvenile delinquency system. Additionally, LACBA hosts brown bag/ office hours for attorneys new to the program, and provides ongoing training and real-time support.

Prior to accepting the appointment as directing attorney, Yamashiro was a professor and founding executive director of the Center for Juvenile Law and Policy at Loyola Law School, where he established the first juvenile delinquency policy and defense legal clinic and taught classes in advanced criminal litigation skills, juvenile law, and trial advocacy. Yamashiro has also been published in the area of indigent defense delivery systems and how different systems affect dispositional outcomes.


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