L.A. County Eyes Juvenile Justice Overhaul

The Los Angeles County supervisors have voted to study overhauling how juvenile suspects are defended in the county. They are responding to complaints that some juveniles are assigned public defenders while others are represented by contractors known as “panel attorneys” who are paid flat rates of $319 to $345 per case. A Loyola Law School report that looked at 3,000 Los Angeles juvenile cases last year found that people represented by panel attorneys got more severe punishment.
The Los Angeles Times story on the issue cited attorney Gary Farwell, who was head of the juvenile panel at Kenyon Juvenile Justice Center until it closed last year, saying that the county should review the resources allocated to juvenile representation, but defended the work of his colleagues. The Times quoted Farwell: “We have hardworking, devoted people who do far more than what they’re paid on many cases. It’s not the people who are the panel attorneys that are the problem. It’s the system of resources available to the panel attorneys that’s the problem.”
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