A panel of judges has apparently made Washington the first state to rule that juvenile students accused of chronically cutting classes in public schools are entitled to a lawyer in their first court hearing.
The Washington State Court of Appeals ruled Jan. 12 that denying a juvenile the right to a lawyer from the outset violated constitutional requirements. Dan Donohoe, a spokesman for the King County prosecutor’s office, said the ruling was under review and no decision had been made on whether to appeal to the state supreme court.
If it stands, the decision could make Washington the first state in which a juvenile is entitled to counsel at the outset of court truancy proceedings that could lead to penalties, said Paul M. Holland, the director of the Ronald A. Peterson Law Clinic at Seattle University, which represented the student in the case.
A version of this article appeared in the January 21, 2009 edition of Education Week