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September 20
1954 - C-46 cargo plane crashes at Saugus Drunk Farm; Civil Air Patrol chaplains parachute to safety [story]


losangelesCountySealThe Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted to reform the way the county provides legal counsel to youth in the justice system and to begin implementing those changes by November 1.

Under the plan, the Alternate Public Defender’s Office would be given the role of taking on more cases arising from conflict as recommended by expert consultants Rebecca Silbert and Sue Burrell.

The reforms also include having the Los Angeles County Bar Association oversee panel attorneys, who would be paid hourly, given equal access to resources, and undergo regular evaluations. Finally, a new, uniform case management system would be implemented to assist with data tracking and accountability.

Under the status quo, when children and teenagers cannot afford an attorney, the county provides a public defender. If there is a conflict – such as when the public defender or alternate public defender is already representing another party in the case – the county instead hires a private “panel attorney,” who gets paid a flat fee of $340 to $360 regardless of the complexity and severity of the case, and who must use their own resources to hire investigators.

The result, according to separate studies by Loyola Law School and the Warren Institute on Law and Social Policy at UC Berkeley School of Law, was that youth represented by panel attorneys were more likely to end up in juvenile halls and camps, or to be tried as adults.

“Today is truly a historic moment,” Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas said. “Our youth have a constitutional right to effective assistance of counsel and we, as a County, have an obligation to ensure that this right is met. These reforms accomplish that, while also protecting our youth and promoting their rehabilitation.”

The historic action by the Board followed a groundbreaking report by Cyn Yamashiro, a professor and probation commissioner, who authored the Loyola Law School study. Yamashiro said that failing to implement reforms “has moral and human costs.”

Martha Matthews, director of the Children’s Rights Project at Public Counsel, said, “(Juveniles) cannot have a system of unequal justice, based simply on whether they happened to be assigned to someone who may be an incredibly diligent attorney — but is being paid (only) $300 per case.”

Kent Mendoza, a member of the Anti-Recidivism Coalition, held himself up as an example of what could happen when a young person has quality legal representation. He said his public defender connected him to resources that helped him turn his life around, and remains his mentor to this day.

“Juvenile defense attorneys play a critically important role,” Supervisor Sheila Kuehl said. “They determine whether juveniles will be prosecuted as adults, and they not only defend their young clients, they advocate for mental health, substance abuse and other services that may benefit these young people.”

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    LOS ANGELES COUNTY HEADLINES
    Tuesday, Sep 19, 2017
    Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger is hosting the inaugural Santa Clarita Valley Transportation Summit.
    Friday, Sep 15, 2017
    Here are agenda highlights for the next meeting of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, set for Tuesday, September 19, starting at 9:30 a.m.
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    The city of Los Angeles Planning Commission on Thursday unanimously supported a proposal that limits where and how cannabis stores can operate in the city.
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    A new L.A. County Public Defender program that assists incarcerated, mentally ill and developmentally disabled clients has won a coveted Productivity and Quality Award.
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    LA County Library is celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month with a variety of themed special events and activities at several library locations, and a special curated series at its Chicano Resource Center, part of East Los Angeles Library.

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