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Spotlight Issue

Spotlight Issue

These are the most recent spotlight issue articles:

Correcting Misconceptions about Youth with Sexual Behavior Problems

Friday, March 30th, 2012

by Tana Fye, J.D., Law Offices of Tana M. Fye, Holdrege

Misconceptions, we all have them. And we likely have the strongest misconceptions about those topics which evoke a strong emotional reaction simply by the topic being named.

The Role of Bias in the Juvenile Court System

Monday, February 20th, 2012

By Joy Suder, J.D., Assistant Douglas County Public Defender
I had the privilege of attending the 34th National Child Welfare, Juvenile, and Family Law Conference in San Diego late last summer. As a defense attorney practicing in juvenile court, I was particularly interested in Dr. Rita Cameron-Wedding’s presentation challenging participants to address how their own biases play a role in perpetuating institutional racial stratification. Specifically, Cameron-Wedding pointed to how biases, coupled with the Safe School Act of 1994, have led to an alarming increase in juvenile delinquency petitions filed across the country and perpetuates the over-representation of minorities in the juvenile justice system.

All Alone in the World: Children of the Incarcerated

Tuesday, November 8th, 2011

by Jennifer D. Joakim
In late August of this year, I had the privilege of attending the National Association of Counsel for Children (NACC) 34th National Child Welfare, Juvenile, and Family Law Conference in San Diego, California, which was held at the Hotel Del Coronado, a historic resort on Coronado Island. NACC’s stated goal is to ensure that attorneys representing families and children are well-trained and effective. Toward that end, the theme of this year’s conference was “Eliminating Unintended Bias.? The opening speaker was Nell Bernstein, acclaimed writer, award-winning journalist, and coordinator of the San Francisco Children of Incarcerated Parents Partnership (SFCIPP). She is also the author of “All Alone in the World: Children of the Incarcerated.?

A Meaningful Defense for a Juvenile Defendant

Thursday, August 11th, 2011

by Brittani Lewit, J.D.

Defendants in criminal proceedings have a due process right to present a meaningful defense. They have the right to see and hear the State’s witnesses, to have those witnesses cross-examined by their attorney, to present witnesses of their own, and to testify in their own defense. Juvenile defendants have these same rights in law violation proceedings. However, extra efforts need to be made to ensure that a juvenile’s right to present a meaningful defense is preserved.

How Attorneys can best utilize Parent Partners to achieve better outcomes for parents

Monday, July 11th, 2011

by Kristina Guerrero-Sisneroz, JD, Lincoln, Nebraska

In October, I went to Austin for the Achieving Equity for Children and Family Conference put on by the National Association of Counsel for Children (NACC). It was my first time in the “WEIRD? city of Austin, but it was a life-changing experience.

Remembering the Impact of Trauma When Counseling Children

Wednesday, May 4th, 2011

by Elizabeth Ferrebee, JD, Stehlik Law, Pawnee City, Nebraska

In the previous spotlight issues, Krista Shaul, J.D. and Maxie Morgan, J.D. discussed in detail the impacts of trauma on the brain and how it affects the children with whom we work. It is hard to deny the profound impact trauma has on the children in the legal system. While learning about the effects of trauma while attending the 33rd National Child Welfare, Juvenile and Family Law Conference, I found myself constantly reflecting on the children I represented and how I could carry what I was learning into my practice.

During a presentation titled “Trauma Informed Legal Systems: A New Paradigm for Understanding and Reaching Children’s Troubling Behavior,? presenters Jim Henry, Ph.D., Mark Sloane, D.O., and Frank Vandervort, J.D. C.W.L.S. provided the audience with essential elements to use when incorporating the concept of trauma into the legal system.

Improving the Treatment, Care, and Success of Nebraska’s Children Through the Neurosequential Model of Therapeutics

Friday, April 1st, 2011

by Krista Shaul, JD, Deputy County Attorney, Cheyenne County

Chances are, at some point during a juvenile case, a child under the Nebraska Juvenile Court jurisdiction will participate in some kind of therapy or treatment. Some therapy addresses trauma the child has been subjected to soon after the trauma has occurred. Other therapy works on behavioral actions of the juvenile, which in all likelihood are precipitated by and are also a result of trauma. Traditional therapy, the kind thought of when the words “counseling? or “therapist? are mentioned, can be helpful to a child, but only with the right child at the right time. There are numerous success stories based on therapy a child has participated in; however, with Neurosequential Model of Therapeutics (NMT), the success of the treatment and care of Nebraska’s children will vastly improve.

Recognizing and Responding to Traumatized Children in the Juvenile Justice System

Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011

by Maxie Morgan, JD, Sorensen & Hahn

Nearly eighty percent of abused children have faced at least one mental health challenge by age 21. Eighty percent is astounding, but when I consider my own juvenile clients individually, I believe it. While I would not preach to memorize numbers, this is one statistic that ought to be known by anyone involved with the juvenile justice system, including attorneys, guardians ad litem, caseworkers, foster parents and judges. Such a mental health challenge may very well be the symptom of childhood trauma.

How Quality Representation of Parents Can Help Children in the Child Welfare System

Thursday, January 6th, 2011

Brittani Lewit, JD, Legal Aid of Nebraska

Children should be with their parents. This is one of the basic premises of our juvenile court system, and the thought behind Nebraska’s out-of-home reform. Unfortunately, remaining in a parent’s home is not always in a child’s best interest. When removal occurs the roles of the Guardian ad Litem and County Attorney are clear–what is best for the child. What may not be so obvious is how the parent’s attorney can advocate for their client’s children. But when we stop to think about it, in most cases no other party consistently advocates more for reunification than the parent’s attorney. As a parents’ attorney I am concerned about the wellbeing of my client’s children and want to help my client become a better parent so their children have a safe and stable home to return to.

Parent Plans: Giving Parents a Voice in Court

Wednesday, December 1st, 2010

Matthew Headley, JD, Madison County Deputy Public Defender


I am a Nebraska fan and have been one my entire life. After the Husker’s heart-breaking loss to Texas a week before I went to Austin for the Achieving Equity for Children and Family Conference put on by the National Association of Counsel for Children (NACC), I was a little reluctant to tell anyone that I was from Nebraska. However, by the end of the conference, I had learned that no matter if you wear the burnt orange or you are part of the Big Red, children, parents and the juvenile system are similar all over the United States.