Colorado Juvenile Defender Center 2018 Staff

Pat Vance | Interim Executive Director 

Patrick is a 1979 graduate of the Law School at Tulsa University.  In 1981, Mr. Vance began a twenty-year career with the Colorado State Public Defender Office retiring in 2002.  While in the Public Defender's Office, Pat was a trial attorney in six regional public defender offices and was a Senior Attorney in the Colorado Springs Office, and an office head in two other regional offices.  During his career as a public defender, Mr. Vance litigated over 100 felony trials and was involved in death penalty representation.  Since 2002, Mr. Vance has been in private practice specializing in criminal defense.  Most recently, Mr.  Vance has specialized in the defense of juveniles subject to prosecution as adults pursuant to the Direct File Statute.  In 2008, Mr. Vance was a founding member and board member of CJDC, and in 2017 he stepped into the role of Interim Executive Director.
Amanda Butler | Access to Justice Program Manager

Amanda runs CJDC's Access to Juvenile Justice: Rural and Tribal Southwest project, a grant-funded program which studies access to specialized and quality juvenile defense in the rural and tribal areas of the southwest region. Amanda is a Denver native and summa cum laude graduate from the University of Colorado Denver, where she received her bachelor's degree in communication. She also holds certificates in mediation and public relations, has been recognized as both a Gorniak and Puksta Fellowship scholar, and is a recipient of the Lael Porter Community Service Award.  Her work outside the office includes service on board of directors for the Southwest Juvenile Defender Center and the auxiliary  board for Family HomeStead.  Amanda is also the founding director of the Colorado Prison Arts Festival.

Mandee Johnson | Access to Justice Contract Administrative Assistant

Mandee Johnson is entering her final semester at the University of Colorado Denver, working part-time with CJDC as she completes her degree in communication.  In her capacity as a Puksta Fellowship scholar, Mandee is investing in the lives of at-risk students through a collaborative mentorship program with CU Denver student leaders called RECIPROCITY. The focus of her senior project is to empower Denver's youth through service learning and activities outside of the classroom so that they too can become leaders in their own communities to address the root causes of social inequality. Her passion for social justice continues to bloom as she lays the foundation for what she hopes to be a lifelong career of advocacy.
Join CJDC's 2018 Policy Committee

CJDC is engaged in policy and legislative reforms to bring balance back to Colorado's juvenile justice system and improve outcomes for children, youth, and families.  

Colorado's General Assembly reconvenes on January 10, 2018, kicking off the 2018 Legislative Session.  Join CJDC's policy committee to work with the 2018 legislature and support critical reforms for Colorado youth.

CJDC's Policy Committee is chaired by Andrea Philleo.  To get involved with the Policy Committee, please reach out to Andrea via email at
Access to Juvenile Justice in the Southwest

The facilitation team included grant Advisory Board members, JTIP facilitators, and subject matter experts from across the southwest 
On Friday, December 8, CJDC joined forces with the Tulsa County Public Defender's Office to train juvenile defenders on Oklahoma's new juvenile competency standards. Assistant Public Defender, Adam Barnett kicked off the day with a review of the new standards, court forms, and definitions. Then Dr. Hollebeek and Dr. LaFortune presented on research, approaches to the question of competence, warning signals, and the role of the forensic elevator. Kameron Johnson, Chris Phillis, and Debbie Varol covered the decision to challenge competence and Andrew Meissen, Ellen Marrus, and Stacie Colling wrapped up the day with a session on the procedure for raisining a claim of incompetence.

To learn more about the  Access to Juvenile Justice: Rural and Tribal Southwest project , visit us online HERE or contact Program Manager, Amanda Butler at or 720.636.0455.  
New OJJDP Administrator Appointee 

On Monday, December 18 President Donald Trump announced his intent to nominate Caren Harp, a Liberty University School of Law professor to head the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) under the U.S. Department of Justice.  

Read more about this appointment:
Thank You for Supporting Our Vision
For nearly a decade, CJDC has strived to elevate the practice of juvenile defense and advocacy by holding up juvenile defense as a skilled specialty practice, presenting continuing legal education seminars, developing resources and materials for juvenile defenders and advocates, and by supporting indigent defense though ongoing litigation support and assistance. 

Last month, we asked for your support in our Annual Fund Drive.  Our community raised over $6,000 through #COGivesDay, CJDC  Membership, and online donations.  Thank you for continuing to support our work into 2018 and beyond!

Community Events and Training

Implementing Justice: State Advisory Groups' Critical Role in Reducing Incarceration Webinar

January 18, 2018 
Register HERE

In 2017, Utah's state legislature enacted sweeping reforms that aimed to reduce the state's population of incarcerated youth by nearly 47 percent by 2022. The changes will free up nearly $70 million over the next five years, funds that will be reinvested into evidence-based practices. Participants will learn more about these reforms, how they came to be, and what the implementation process looks like. What made legislators interested in reforming juvenile justice, and what role has the State Advisory Group played in passing and implementing the bill?

Natl. Summit on Youth Homelessness

March 19-20, 2018
Hyatt Regency Capitol Hill
Learn more HERE

The National Summit on Youth Homelessness will be held in Washington, DC in March . This event focuses on how government agencies, policymakers, community leaders, and service providers can partner together to prevent and respond to youth homelessness.

Southwest Zealous Advocacy Conference

April 6-7, 2018
University of Houston
Registration coming soon

The Southwest Juvenile Defender Center (SWJDC) is hosting two  days of intensive Juvenile Training Immersion Program (JTIP) training at the 2018 Zealous Advocacy Conference.  This annual conference is  a professional development training for juvenile defense attorneys practicing in the Southwest region.

6th Annual Excellence in Juvenile Defense Conference

April 26-27, 2018
Denver, Colorado
Register  HERE

CJDC, the Office of Alternate Defense Counsel, and Office of the Child's Representative are partnering to offer our two day, multi-track 6th Annual Excellence in Juvenile Defense Conference!  Session topics will include c hallenging client's statements; competency; defending juvenile sex cases; direct file and transfer cases; education advocacy; expungement and deregistration; immigration; implicit bias; placement advocacy; raising race; and role of counsel.

Police-Youth Engagement Webinar

This webinar explores building better relationships between youth, communities and the police from the perspectives of a community organizer and a law enforcement professional. Valerie Slater, Coordinator of the RISE for Youth Coalition and current Youth Justice Leadership Institute (YJLI) Fellow, discusses how participants can engage their communities in meaningful conversations on police interactions and educate youth on their rights. Helen Gandara, Assistant Chief for the Scottsdale Police Department and YJLI alum, discusses her work with the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) on their Police-Youth Engagement Initiative to promote collaboration between youth and law enforcement professionals.

Chained Voices 2018 Art Show

June 8-9, 2018
Art of Life Gallery

Chained Voices art shows enabled many incarcerated artists to showcase their artwork while raising awareness and funds for various needs they face as incarcerated youth and adults, many of the artists were convicted as juveniles. The Chained Voices community believes it is incredibly important to continue this opportunity for artistic expression, awareness and consciousness raising. Chained Voices shines light onto the issues that incarceration creates for individuals, families and communities by giving those incarcerated voices a chance to speak through their art.
Free Training & Technical Support 

As a Training and Technical Assistance (TTA) provider for the Department of Justice's Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), CJDC is acting as a regional resource center for juvenile defenders.  

If you are looking for training support, have a training need in your area, or in need of assistance in developing specialized CLE offerings for juvenile defense counsel, you can request assistance through OJJDP's TTA program HERE.