District Attorney, Palo Alto Weekly to host juvenile justice town hall

Forum to explore juvenile crimes, school safety issues

The Palo Alto Weekly is co-sponsoring a free discussion on how juvenile crimes are handled by the police and District Attorney with the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office on Monday, Sept. 18, in Palo Alto.

"Your Kids and the Law" will feature two speakers: LaRon Dennis, supervising deputy district attorney for the county's Juvenile Justice Unit, and Nate Wandruff, an investigator with the District Attorney's Office and a former Mountain View police officer.

Palo Alto Weekly education writer Elena Kadvany will moderate the panel and Chief Assistant District Attorney Jay Boyarsky will give welcoming remarks.

In a statement, District Attorney Jeff Rosen said his office wanted to hold the forum to dispel some of the confusion around the juvenile justice system.

"The juvenile justice system can seem like a black hole," he said. "Some young people go into it. Little information comes back out. What happened?"

He said he asked Dennis, Wandruff and Boyarsky to "talk about how we have fought to make the system more transparent" and to "discuss and answer questions about the right balance between rehabilitating a young offender and protecting the public."

Prior to joining the District Attorney's Office, Dennis worked in the juvenile and criminal justice systems in a range of capacities: as an adjunct professor teaching juvenile law; as a consultant training justice system partners on the use of risk assessment tools and the implementation of evidence-based practices; as a delinquency law and policy attorney for the California Judicial Council; as a senior program associate at the Berkeley Center for Criminal Justice at the University of California at Berkeley Law School; and as a deputy legislative counsel for the Office of Legislative Counsel in Sacramento.

Dennis is also contributing author for "Seiser & Kumli on California Juvenile Courts Practice and Procedure," California's leading treatise on juvenile law.

Wandruff has spent more than 20 years working in law enforcement. As a county investigator, he is currently working with the Domestic Violence Unit, the Firearms Training Unit and the Officer-Involved Incident Team. As a Mountain View police officer, he investigated numerous cases involving juveniles.

The panelists will explore topics such as how decisions are made to prosecute, what is public information and what isn't in juvenile crimes, how juvenile court proceedings work and how crimes on school campuses are handled, among others.

"When the public knows about the juvenile justice system, then the public can make the juvenile justice system better," Rosen said.

Panelists will not be able to discuss specific cases due to the confidentiality of juvenile court proceedings.

After a discussion, the panelists will take questions from the audience.

The forum will take place from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at the Mitchell Park Community Center, 3700 Middlefield Road.


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2 people like this
Posted by @PAFreePress
a resident of another community
on Sep 13, 2017 at 5:32 pm

10 Supreme Court Cases Every Teen Should Know Web Link

6 people like this
Posted by @PAFreePress
a resident of another community
on Sep 14, 2017 at 4:33 am

Justices say age counts when child suspects are questioned Web Link

What is absent from this panel of legal minds, a criminal defense attorney. Police and prosecutors work together on convictions and in reality are no friends of the innocent. Especially our most venerable teenagers. No one should speak to the police without an attorney present under any circumstance. Police can and will lie using coercion tactics which is constitutionally personable. Don't take this information me, do your own homework.

1 person likes this
Posted by @PAFreePress
a resident of another community
on Sep 14, 2017 at 11:59 am

[Portion removed.]

Again, and I cannot stress the importance of all parents having a sit discussion on dealing with police in gerenral. And to never, ever discuss anything with the police especially if your suspect of an investigation. Learn from the Jorge Hernandez case and well documented others....

Like this comment
Posted by @PAFreePress
a resident of another community
on Sep 15, 2017 at 7:47 pm

[Portion removed.]

We all need to face the facts that our criminal justice system is in a complete state of disarray. How are Juvenal courts cases handled today? The litmus test can be found here: Web Link

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