Utah Juvenile Defenders Recognized For Commitment to Youth Rights

As part of Youth Justice Awareness Month, the Utah Board of Juvenile Justice celebrated Utah’s dedication to youth in the juvenile justice system and recognized local advocates who champion youths’ rights to due process while acknowledging their unique courtroom needs.”  

The event, held at the Utah Supreme Court Chambers, highlighted a 1967 U.S. Supreme Court decision In re Gault,which guaranteed a child’s right to counsel in juvenile court. Amanda Powell with the National Juvenile Defender Center explained to attendees that it is still relevant today.

“We have been called as a community to justice,” Powell said. “You’re worthy of this challenge because you’re brave,” she said. 

In anticipation of the 50th anniversary of this landmark decision, UBJJ honored and celebrated juvenile defenders who routinely advocate for their clients to have a clear direction and powerful voice in the courtroom. 2016 Youth Advocate of the Year recognitions were awarded to: Benjamin D. Gordon, P.C., 5th Judicial District; Jeffry K. Ross, Stowell & Crayk, 8th Judicial District; Erik G. Jacobson, Utah County Juvenile Public Defender, 4th Judicial District; Tasha M. Williams and William R. Russell, Utah Juvenile Defender Attorneys, 3rd Judicial District.

Members and leaders from the Utah Board of Juvenile Justice, the Utah Division of Juvenile Justice Services, the Utah Juvenile Court and the public were also in attendance.