LA County Bar Association Honors Two Juvenile Defenders

In a historic first, the Los Angeles County Bar Association has named two juvenile defense attorneys the “Defense Attorneys of the Year.” At its May 2017 Criminal Justice Awards dinner, long time juvenile defenders Rourke Stacy of the Los Angeles County Public Defender’s Office and Maureen Pacheco of the Los Angeles County Alternate Public Defender’s Office were honored for their contributions to the field.  Both attorneys have been involved in significant litigation and juvenile policy work for more than two decades. The event was especially timely in that the case that gave young people the right to counsel, In re Gault (1967) 387 U.S. 1, reached its 50th anniversary this month.  In her remarks, Rourke celebrated the field’s achievements since Gault, but noted that juvenile defenders are still not appreciated as the specialists they are,  and that defender offices almost uniformly fail to provide career paths for them.