Spotlight on Adolescent Brain Development, School Shootings, and the Media
Mass and school shootings are far too frequent tragedies in Colorado and across the nation. After each unfortunate event occurs, communities rally to think about measures to intervene. The offenders of these shootings and their families are often prominently featured in the media and their behavior is retroactively scrutinized. Although accountability is essential (particularly with the increase of restorative justice programs) in seeking justice for victims and communities, determining appropriate consequences or sentencing of juvenile offenders of severe crimes has been a difficult topic.
Extensive research on brain development explicates that the human brain is not fully formed until the age of 25. During adolescence, cognitive skills (i.e., reasoning, decision-making, and impulse control) are underdeveloped and adolescents have a diminished ability to focus on and recognize the consequences of their behavior. Trauma,  which impacts many adolescents in the juvenile justice system, further disrupts development. Because the adolescent brain is still developing, personality traits and behaviors of adolescents are highly receptive to change. Most adolescents respond well to treatment and interventions, learn to make responsible choices, and desist from delinquent or criminal behavior.
Courts are listening to this research and social science research is increasingly being used in judicial decision-making. For instance, research on adolescent brain development was critical to the U.S. Supreme Court decisions in Roper v. Simmons (2005), Miller v. Alabama (2012), and Montgomery v. Louisiana (2016). Courts are recognizing that adolescence is a distinct developmental period (i.e., adolescents are children) and should be considered in dispositions.
Transfer to adult court for the defendant of the STEM High School shooting, due to the severity and publicity of the case, is inevitable. However, discussions regarding transfer and reverse transfer cases for juveniles are increasing and the tide is changing. To date, a few states (e.g., Louisiana, Michigan, New York) have considered or implemented "raise the age legislation," which would raise the age of criminal responsibility to 18 or even 21; essentially prohibiting minors from entering the adult criminal justice system. Should Colorado be next?

For further reading on this subject:
Part-Time Non-Profit Executive Director

The Colorado Juvenile Defender Center is seeking a passionate Executive Director to lead our organization and help achieve its mission.  CJDC is the leading advocate for the rights of youth in Colorado and ensures excellence in juvenile defense across the state.  The organization is seeking a licensed Colorado attorney with at least three years of experience, preferably in the field of criminal or juvenile defense.  This is a part-time position and no prior executive director experience is necessary.  In this role, you will have the opportunity to be the face of a successful non-profit, working closely with the Board of Directors, government officials, and the public.  Duties include developing and implementing strategic plans, leading staff, and some direct representation of youth.  The successful candidate must have a demonstrated passion to ensuring justice for the youth of Colorado.

Please send cover letter and resume to Board Chair Michael Juba at
De-criminalizing Childhood, One Case at a Time

Alison Gordon, a CJDC intern and recent University of Colorado law school graduate, was successful in her advocacy and litigation efforts on behalf of a client who asked the court to grant his petition to deregister.  The client, now in his late 20's, had been forced to register for an act that took place when he was 12 years old.  Appearing before the magistrate judge in Jefferson County, Alison took her client through his life story, and made a cogent closing argument, painting a compelling picture for why the judge should grant this petition to deregister.   Ultimately, because of Alison's advocacy and her client's resolve, he will no longer need to register and can fully move forward with his life!
FREE CLE | Deregistration and Expungement Training

Thursday, August 29, 2019 | 3:00-4:30pm
Denver, CO | Ralph Carr Judicial Center | Rm. 1E

Expungement of juvenile delinquency records and getting off of the sex-offender registry are two very important post-adjudication issues that juvenile practitioners need to address. Join the  Colorado Juvenile Defender Center (CJDC) and the  Office of the Alternate Defense Counsel (OADC) as we cover the ins and outs of juvenile record expungement and deregistration cases.

CJDC's  Believe in Youth program continues to represent youth and young adults in both expungement and deregistration proceedings. The program pairs clients with individual attorneys who handle all aspects of the case. CJDC pays attorneys a small fee for their representation, depending upon the nature of the case. Attorneys interested in working with the  Believe in Youth program are highly encouraged to attend this training.
CJDC/OADC Fines and Fees Training


Thursday, October 3, 2019 | 3:00-4:30pm
Denver, CO | Ralph Carr Judicial Center | Rm. 1C

CJDC and OADC will co-host a training focused on fines and fees in October.  Save the date now and keep an eye out for further training details and registration information. 
CJDC Needs Office Space

We are looking for a cost effective, practical office that would accommodate two working attorneys and include a space for client meetings.  We have a move in date of around October 1st.  If you know of any available space, please contact Jeff Cuneo at
We released our brand new JUSTICE FOR YOUTH enamel pins at this year's Celebration and Fundraiser!  Now's your chance to show your support and add a little flair to your wardrobe while you are at it!  

Order JUSTICE FOR YOUTH pins for you and all of your favorite colleagues today!  Pins feature a 3/4" hard enamel lapel pin, plated lettering, and a butterfly backing.  $8.00/pin.

It's Easy to Support CJDC All Year Long

AmazonSmile is a simple and automatic way for you to support CJDC every time you shop online with no cost to you. To shop AmazonSmile, simply go to from the web browser on your computer or mobile device and select The Colorado Juvenile Defender Center. You may also want to add a bookmark to to make it even easier to return for all future purchases.