Effectiveness of Participation as a Defendant: The Attorney-Juvenile Client Relationship
Publication Date: March 2003
Special Collection: John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
Keywords: Behavioral development; Youth offenders; Adjudicative competence; Juvenile justice
Recent changes in the processing of juveniles in the justice system place greater significance on children's capacities to participate in legal contexts. Effective participation as a defendant encompasses abilities beyond those legally required for adjudicative competence, which may nevertheless influence the quality and nature of a defendant's participation in the trial process. Based in developmental judgment theory, the current study compares 203 juveniles and 110 adults detained pre-trial using a hypothetical attorney-client vignette to examine how psychosocial factors are reflected in decision-making processes and link to decision outcomes and effective participation within the attorney-client relationship. Age-related differences in legally relevant decision-making processes and outcomes are identified, and implications for policy are made.