The Children’s Justice Clinic (CJC) is litigation based clinical experience that allows 3L students to quickly assume the role of an attorney in order to represent New Jersey children facing delinquency changes.  Primarily representing children in Camden’s juvenile court, students have the opportunity to develop a trial strategy, negotiate with the prosecutor, file motions and argue in front of a Family Court Judge.  Every student is certified by the Supreme Court of New Jersey under the student practice rule 1:21 3(b) and practices under the supervision of Professor Simkins.  Juvenile court practice is similar to adult criminal court practice; therefor this clinic is particularly well suited for students interested in criminal law.

Students will work in trial teams and generally have the opportunity to handle two of their own cases in delinquency court. The CJC handles a wide range of cases from minor theft charges or possession of marijuana to complex aggravated assaults.  In addition to handling a delinquency case from the point of arrest, students have the opportunity to do Post Disposition Representation and visit youth who have been committed to a residential program or to New Jersey’s Juvenile Justice Commission.  During Post Disposition Representation student attorneys will ensure that the rehabilitative services the Family Court Judge ordered are being received.

In addition to delinquency charges, CJC students handle any ancillary matters that the client may have, such as education issues or dependency issues.

Finally, CJC students have the opportunity to engage in system reform issues.  In 2008, the CJC (along with the Office of the Public Defender and the Rutgers School of Law – Newark) received a grant from the MacArthur Foundation and became part of the Juvenile Indigent Defense Action Network.  The grant was for the Post Disposition Representation of New Jersey’s youth. As an outgrowth of the grant, students have worked on conditions of confinement issues (such as eliminating punitive solitary confinement for youth in New Jersey juvenile facilities) and have engaged in successful appellate advocacy. 

Examples of CJC system reform advocacy include the following:  

The Rutgers School of Law – Camden CJC is also part of a Juvenile Justice Reform working group in collaboration with the firm of Lowenstein Sandler and the Lowenstein Center for the Public Interest.  Working with the ACLU, the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice, Association for Children of New Jersey and Rutgers School of Law – Newark the CJC has helped to address issues to improve outcomes for youth.  See the report.

Professor Simkins was quoted in NJ.com $400K award to settle lawsuit over solitary confinement of 2 N.J. boys. Ryan Hutchins, Star Ledger, January 3, 2014.

Professor Simkins was quoted in N.J. Solitary Confinement: Extreme Cases of Life in the Box Juvenile Justice Information Exchange by Gary Gately, March 9, 2014.

Star-Ledger: Thursday, July 18: editorial; “State should ban solitary confinement for juvenile offenders” Prof. Sandra Simkins (clinical professor, CLAW) was cited in this editorial calling for juvenile justice form.

Appellate Advocacy, State of New Jersey in the Interest of J.J., 427 N.J. Super. 541 (App. Div. 2012).  The CJC successfully litigated this case involving the constitutional due process rights of youth once they are placed in a juvenile facility.  The issue was whether the New Jersey Juvenile Justice Commission (JJC) , which runs facilities for adjudicated juveniles, can administratively transfer youth to adult prison facilities once the juvenile turns 18 without due process.

Opinion

New Jersey Law Journal Article

The Clinic will be offered for 6 credits.

Link to description from Master Course List

The Children's Justice Clinic is cosponsored by the New Jersey State Bar Foundation and made possible with funding from the IOLTA Fund of the Bar of New Jersey.

Lawyering