When I started working out here I was given a fresh yellow legal pad, and also seem to have acquired another since then. At any rate, I have never been without at least one of them when in Court or scurrying about outside. During the quieter moments however, they inevitably led to the odd bit of sketching or doodling, and I thought I’d let you peek at a selection here…

What do kids need lawyers for?One of the biggest problems we face in regard to the views of those who create legislation is the idea that children should not require lawyers at all, and that our role in defending them is simply to drag out what should be a simple proceeding. The fact is that the process is far from simple and it is plain to anyone who has set foot in a juvenile court that even with a lawyer, children often find it difficult to follow what is happening to them. I was involved in coordinating a group of Steve’s university students at the State Legislature where we were giving testimony in support of a bill that would prevent juveniles from waiving their right to counsel. This is crucial because so many children effectively have this right waived on their behalf through pressure from judges, prosecution attorneys (who unsurprisingly would just love for there to be no opposing lawyer!) and even parents.

Of course I'm guilty, I'm a teenagerAnother prejudice we commonly find is that the majority of our clients must be guilty because, well, they’re teenagers. And you know what teenagers are like. The result is that there’s a feeling that we’re just wasting people’s time by even attempting to defend these people. Indeed, when explaining that our standard process involved a “not guilty” plea during a discussion about the lack of funding for the juvenile public defenders office, Steve met with the response, “Ah, well there’s your problem: you’re pleaing not guilty!”

That kid just needs a good beatingIt’s not uncommon to hear this casual remark from the security officers. It seems innocent enough, and maybe even quite astute. But so often from having spoken with the child previously in the office, we’d really like to say, “Well, actually you really don’t have to worry about that, this kid’s getting beaten plenty!” Corporal punishment may be all well and good, but interesting to note that these days the majority of supporters are people who were not even beaten regularly, let alone excessively. And frankly, there’s a number of our kids who’ve been screwed up by the “disciplining” they receive. Younger kids tend either to get traumatised or become more aggressive and violent towards other children, while if this form of punishment continues, eventually the child is big enough to hit back, and it’s hard for a parents to deal with by that point in what is usually a pretty dysfunctional relationship.

What am I doing as a cartoon?