Last Day of Conference Begins with Frankie Guzman’s Story

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Frankie Guzman, a Soros Fellow at the National Center for Youth Law, starts off this morning’s session with his life story of overcoming years in juvenile prison in California and later attending Berkeley and UCLA Law.  Most striking to me was the disparity in armed robbery sentences that he received as a Hispanic man (15 years) and two white women he knew (2 weeks).  Even as experienced juvenile defenders it is good to have a reminder of the potential of our young clients.  How many other young offenders could grow up to become lawyers or doctors or social workers or whatever they desire, if only given a second (or third) chance?

Later today we will hear from Professor Joseph Tulman from the University of the District of Columbia about advocating for young client’s special education needs.

At lunch Mayor Annise Parker, the mayor of Houston, will be addressing conference attendees.  So many exciting sessions this afternoon!

Conference: Legislative Advocacy & the Origins of Murderers


After lunch, the 12th Annual Zealous Advocacy Conference continued with Kim Dvorchak giving an uplifting update on juvenile law legislative changes around the country, focusing on the ability of juvenile defenders to advocate for change in their home states.

Both David Domenici and Kim Dvorchak recommended the National Conference of State Legislatures: Trends in Juvenile Justice State Legislature 2001-2011 as a resource for the juvenile defenders attending.

Currently Professor David Dow of the University of Houston Law Center is describing the life of a real death row inmate to illustrate how murderers become murderers essentially by their life circumstances as children, which are quite often shockingly abusive.  The room is silent, hanging on Professor Dow’s story.  Everyone would love to stop murder before it happens by changing the circumstances of our most vulnerable and abused children.