Protecting Children’s Right to Counsel
Update 07.10.12: The Ohio Supreme Court has adopted Juvenile Rule 3, but only after significant changes were made to narrow the breadth of the rule. As implemented, the rule will require children who are facing felony-level charges to consult with an attorney before they may waive their right to counsel.
When the rule was originally recommended to the Court, all children facing criminal charges would have been required to consult with an attorney. This mirrors proposals in other states like Florida and Texas and ensures all children are protected when navigating the juvenile justice system.
Unfortunately, powerful forces like the Ohio Prosecuting Attorneys Association and the County Commissioners Association of Ohio urged the state Supreme Court to reject Juvenile Rule 3. The Court amended the rule to only apply to children with felony charges or lesser charges that could result in a loss of liberty. However, this was still not good enough for opponents of Juvenile Rule 3. They pressured the Court to adopt the current, watered-down rule.
While the ACLU of Ohio is deeply disappointed that the original rule was not adopted, we take great heart that this issue elicited support from a wide spectrum of people. The vast majority of public comment supported Juvenile Rule 3, and we believe Ohio will be able to make more substantial changes to its juvenile justice system in the future.