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.

The 12th Annual Zealous Advocacy Conference began on a strong note with David Domenici speaking about the success he has had with the Maya Angelou Academy that serves D.C.’s incarcerated youth.  The most interesting fact to me was how significant the correlation between education and incarceration is.  Male high school dropouts are 47 times more likely to be incarcerated than college graduates!

We are now hearing from Diane Vines of the Child Trauma Academy and the Children’s Assessment Center in Houston about brain science.  The brains of bused and neglected youth do not develop well and attachment does not form correctly.  As most parents realize, teens brains are not like adults.  Teens make poor decisions, especially those whose brain development was stunted by their abuse and neglect.

The almost 100 attorneys packed into this University of Houston Law Center classroom are enthralled.  Can’t wait for the legislative update from Kim Dvorchak of the Colorado Juvenile Defender Coalition coming soon!

Seats are Still Available at this Weekend’s Zealous Advocacy Conference

The 12th Annual Zealous Advocacy Conference, with this year’s theme of Zealous Advocacy: It’s Common Sense, still has a few seats remaining. Registration is available for $200, a bargain considering the materials and speakers who will be presenting this weekend.

The Zealous Advocacy Conference is an annual training seminar organized by the Center for Children, Law & Policy and the Southwest Juvenile Defender Center. The conference is the premier professional development training for juvenile public defense attorneys practicing in the Southwestern United States. Our theme this year is Zealous Advocacy: It’s Common Sense. We’ve put together a stellar lineup of presenters and we are confident that this will be our best conference yet.

Please see conference information below and on our Conference Registration page. The conference will take place on the University of Houston Law Center campus.

Please contact us with any questions or concerns at


  • Date: Thursday, May 16 & Friday, May 17, 2013
  • Location: University of Houston Law Center (click for address & directions)
  • Price: $200
  • CLE Hours: likely 13 hours with 3 ethics hours (pending)
  • Conference Hotel: Out-of-town attendees can book rooms at the University of Houston Hilton Hotel (832- 531-6300), located on the UH campus.

Keynote Speaker: David Domenici

David Domenici

Co-founder, Maya Angelou Public Charter Schools
Senior Fellow, Center for American Progress
Director, Center for Educational Excellence in Alternative Settings

David co-founded and served as the founding principal of the Maya Angelou Academy-the school located inside the District of Columbia’s long-term, secure juvenile facility-from 2007 to 2011.

He designed the key elements of the school model, including short, thematic units aligned with state standards, incentive programming based on the Positive Behavioral Intervention and Supports framework, a technology-enhanced instruction and learning platform, and a set of technology tools designed to enhance communication between school and correctional staff.

The Maya Angelou Academy’s success has been widely recognized. Retention rates (the percentage of students remaining in school or holding jobs after release to the community) have doubled since the Maya Angelou Academy began serving D.C.’s incarcerated youth.

Other Presenters Include:

  • Professor David Dow
    University of Houston Law Center
  • Hon. Angela Ellis
    Associate Judge, 315th District Juvenile Court of Texas
  • Professor Sally Terry Green
    Texas Southern University Thurgood Marshall School of Law
  • Professor Michael Lindsey
    Southern Methodist University
  • Professor Ellen Marrus
    University of Houston Law Center
  • Chris Phillis
    Director, Maricopa County Office of the Public Advocate
  • Miriam Riskind
    Isenberg & Riskind
  • Hon. Michael Schneider
    Presiding Judge, 315th District Juvenile Court of Texas
  • Professor Joseph Tulman
    University of the District of Columbia, David A. Clarke School of Law
  • National Juvenile Defender Center (NJDC) Training Team

HOW DO I REGISTER?: You can register starting TODAY and get more information at the Center for Children, Law & Policy Conference Registration page.

More information on CLE hours, presenters, and the payments can be found on the Conference Registration page.