In recent years the decisions of the United States Supreme Court in the area of juvenile law and the growing public awareness of the delinquency problem have brought about drastic changes in American juvenile courts.
This book represents a major research effort to determine the effect of defense counsel’s performance on the conduct and outcome of delinquency cases. After a brief historical analysis of the factors leading to changes in juvenile law, the authors explore in detail the impact of the lawyer’s presence and performance on the outcomes of cases in two juvenile courts.
The analysis further explores the various factors influencing a lawyer’s defense posture and develops the thesis that the effectiveness of counsel is determined largely by the structure of the delinquency hearing and the willingness and ability of court personnel and procedures to adapt to the introduction of an adversarial role of defense counsel. What makes this study unique is the large-scale effort to combine legal analysis and sociological methodology to the study of an action-oriented program. The use of the classical experimental design, the selection of control and experimental groups by random assignment, and the extent to which the use of this methodology increases the validity of the results, will be of interest to both lawyers and social scientists. The book is a major contribution to the growing literature in the field of the sociology of law.