All children have the potential to succeed.

Amicus Work

An amicus curiae is a Latin phrase that means “friend of the court”. Agencies and individuals who are not a party to a case may be invited or volunteer to share their perspective with the courts through a legal brief or testimony. Because of TeamChild’s expertise representing youth, we are frequently asked to participate as an amicus in cases that may affect the legal rights of children. Here are some examples of TeamChild’s recent amicus work.  We encourage you to read the entire briefs for an in-depth analysis of these issues:

State v. Meneese (2011)

Topic Area: Juvenile and Criminal Justice

This case involves the legality of a search of a high school student’s backpack by a School Resource Officer (SRO) in the Bellevue School District. The case is of particular concern to many of the youth TeamChild serves because of the significant increase in the use of law enforcement personnel on public school campuses over the past decade and the connections between this trend and the School to Prison Pipeline.  TeamChild authored this Brief in support of the youth appellant in State v. Meneese before the Washington State Supreme Court. TeamChild was one of multiple Amicus on this case which included the Seattle Young People’s Project (SYPP), the ACLU of Washington, the Washington Defender Association and the Korematsu Center at Seattle University School of Law.

Amicus Brief, State v. Meneese 2011 (PDF)

In Re the Dependency of MSR and TSR (2011)

Topic Area: Child Welfare and Right to Counsel for Youth

This case concerns the termination of parental rights of two preteen children. The children were not provided counsel at the termination of parental rights proceeding. Many of the children TeamChild works with have been involved in the child welfare system and have an important stake in being able to truly participate in the dependency court process.  This process decides who they will live with, what contact they will or won’t have with family members and the services and supports they will need to be successful in their lives. TeamChild believes that children deserve to have a voice in this life changing process. TeamChild collaborated with a number of other advocacy organizations and co-authored an Amicus Brief in the case of In Re The Dependency of MSR and TSR before the Washington State Supreme Court.  TeamChild was joined by the ACLU of Washington, the Washington Defender Association, The Defender Association and Society of Counsel Representing Accused Persons.

Amicus Brief, In Re the Dependency of MSR and TSR 2011 (PDF)

In Re the Termination of D.R. and A.R. (2011)

Topic Area: Child Welfare and Right to Counsel for Youth

When the State seeks to terminate a parent’s rights to care for their child, it is likely that the child has already been in foster care for sometime and that they have been a victim of abuse or neglect.  TeamChild and the young people we work with believe that it is essential for a child who may be either returned to an unfit parent or become a permanent ward of the state to have a voice in this life changing court process. The children who were the subject of In Re the Termination of D.R. and A.R did not have that opportunity to be heard. Decisions about whom they would live with, where they would go to school and whether or not they would have any contact with their siblings or extended family were all made by the court without ever hearing from the children whose lives were most affected. TeamChild co-authored an Amicus Brief to the Washington State Supreme Court in this case in support of the importance for children to have the assistance of trained legal counsel in dependency matters.  TeamChild was joined by the Center for Children and Youth Justice, Society of Counsel Representing Accused Persons, The Washington Defender Association and The Defender Association.

Amicus Brief, D.R. and A.R. case (PDF)

Bellevue School District vs E.S. (2009)

Topic Area: Education and Right to Counsel for Students

Many TeamChild clients have been subject to truancy petitions in juvenile courts for missing school.  These young students were forced to navigate this legal process without the assistance of trained legal counsel. Some were incarcerated for extended periods of time, further interrupting their education. In this case, the Court of Appeals decided that due process requires that students who are subject to truancy proceedings have a strong right to counsel.  Bellevue School District appealed this decision to the Washington State Supreme Court and TeamChild authored an Amicus Brief in support of a student’s right to counsel in these proceedings. TeamChild’s brief argued that a child’s right to education is at stake in all stages of the truancy process and that without effective counsel at the initial truancy hearing, children are denied a meaningful opportunity to be heard. TeamChild was joined on this case by The Committee for Indigent Representation and Civil Legal Equality and the Children and Family Justice Center. The Washington State Supreme Court ruled that the Due Process Clauses of the US and Washington Constitutions do not require that children be represented by counsel at an initial truancy hearing.

Amicus Brief, Bellevue vs. E.S. (PDF)