National Center for Youth Law


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At the Center — Oct-Dec 2010

Former NCYL Law Clerk Kate Walker Awarded Equal Justice Works Fellowship

Kate Walker

Kate Walker

Congratulations to Kate Walker who will join NCYL in Fall 2011 as an Equal Justice Works Fellow! Kate’s fellowship project will focus on the needs of sexually exploited minors in Alameda County, California. Kate, a law clerk at NCYL last summer, will graduate from the University of Iowa College of Law in the Spring. She is a student writer for the Journal of Gender, Race & Justice, and board member of Iowa’s Equal Justice Foundation. Following her first year in law school, she interned at the Alliance for Children’s Rights (ACR) in Los Angeles, focusing on special education issues. As a law clerk at NCYL, Kate worked with attorneys Patrick Gardner and Zahra Hayat on improving access to mental health services for California foster youth. She also assisted on the T.R. v. Dreyfus case in Washington State, and worked on a report for the Juvenile Mental Health Court in Alameda County. Kate earned her undergraduate degree in Public Policy Analysis with a focus on Psychology from Pomona College in Claremont, California. Kate’s Equal Justice Works Fellowship is being sponsored by Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP.


Erica Turcios, Aliza Kaliski, and Sara Madge Pass the Bar

Congratulations to Deferred Associate Erica Turcios and Of Counsel Aliza Kaliski, who have both passed the California Bar, and Sara Madge, who passed the Massachusetts Bar!

Sara Madge joined NCYL in September 2010 as a deferred associate from the Boston office of Ropes & Gray LLP. Her work at NCYL focuses on the rights of adolescents to access health care and mental health treatment. Sara earned her undergraduate degree in Classics from the University of Southern California in 2003, and her law degree from Harvard Law School in 2010.

Erica Turcios joined NCYL in October 2010 as a deferred associate from the San Francisco office of Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP.  At NCYL, she is a member of the litigation team for TR v. Dreyfus, a civil rights lawsuit against Washington state for failure to provide adequate care to children with serious mental health problems. She is also working on children’s educational rights issues, including ensuring that children have access to mental health services as part of their free, appropriate public education. Erica earned her B.A. from UC Berkeley in 2005, and her J.D. from University of Michigan Law School in 2010.

Aliza Kaliski is a volunteer attorney with NCYL, working on juvenile justice issues with staff attorneys Pat Arthur and Patricia Soung.  She graduated from UC Berkeley in 2001 with a double major in Political Science and Mass Communications, and a minor in Public Policy.  Aliza attended Northwestern University School of Law, graduating in 2005.  Until May 2010, she worked as an assistant appellate defender at the Office of the State Appellate Defender in Chicago, representing indigent adult and juvenile defendants on direct and collateral appeals from criminal convictions and adjudications. She joined NCYL in September 2010.


Director John O’Toole Appointed to CA Committee Working to Provide Critical Legal Counsel

John O'Toole

John O’Toole

NCYL Director John O’Toole was appointed by Chief Justice Ronald M. George of the California Supreme Court to serve on the Sargent Shriver Civil Counsel Act Implementation Committee.  The Committee was established by the California Legislature to develop pilot projects to represent low-income people on critical legal issues affecting basic human needs. The Committee will help develop one or more pilot projects in selected courts for three years. The Committee has already met several times, and is actively considering proposals received from more than 30 legal services providers in California. The legislature is exploring options to create “civil Gideon” projects so that poor people involved in civil disputes will have access to legal representation just as defendants in criminal cases do.

John O’Toole has also been selected to serve on the Civil Policy Group of the National Legal Aid and Defender Association (NLADA).  The Group meets twice a year and coordinates the NLADA’s policy positions. In addition, John was selected to chair the NLADA’s Support Center Section. In that capacity, he will facilitate discussions among the national and state support centers.


Policy Advocate Mikaela Rabinowitz Awarded PhD

Mikaela Rabinowitz

Mikaela Rabinowitz

Juvenile Justice Policy Advocate Mikaela Rabinowitz has completed her PhD in Sociology at Northwestern University, receiving her doctorate on Dec. 29.  Mikaela’s dissertation, “Holding Cells: Understanding the Collateral Consequences of Pretrial Detentions,” examines the effect of pretrial detention on defendants’ case outcomes and on their lives outside the criminal justice system.  Mikaela conducted statistical analysis of court records as well as interviews with detainees, finding that defendants who are detained are more than twice as likely to be convicted than defendants released on bond. Moreover, regardless of whether or not they are convicted, detainees face significant financial and emotional hardships as a consequence of their time jail.  
Mikaela works on NCYL’s Juvenile Justice Reform Project, advocating for reduced reliance on secure detention and greater use of community-based services for youth in trouble with the law. In helping conduct a recent evaluation in Arkansas, Mikaela found the state could reduce by 40 percent the number of youths committed to state custody by providing a range of community based services. She is also working on projects to reduce school-based referrals to the juvenile justice system, and to help California counties direct new state juvenile justice funds to support community based services for youth.


NCYL Welcomes Law Clerk Rama Tavva

Rama Tavva

Rama Tavva

Rama Tavva is in her third year at Harvard Law School, where she is an Executive Editor of the Journal of Law and Gender and serves on the board of the Women’s Law Association. Rama previously clerked with the US Attorney’s Office, working primarily on immigration and employment discrimination cases. Rama attended UC Berkeley as an undergraduate, receiving a joint degree in Political Science and History. While at UC Berkeley, Rama worked at the Family Violence Law Center in Oakland, CA helping survivors of domestic abuse find emergency resources. She also did outreach on consumer rights and language access issues for low-income families at the Law Center for Families, also in Oakland, CA. At NYCL, Rama will focus on improving special education services for foster youth, and increasing adolescents’ access to healthcare. A Bay Area native, Rama “is excited to escape the worst of the Cambridge winter and work with such a passionate and dedicated group of child advocates.”

Staff Attorney Christiana Geffen Macfarlane Leaving NCYL

NCYL bids farewell to Christiana Geffen Macfarlane, an attorney who worked on the Center’s Teen Health Law Initiative. Christiana is leaving NCYL to pursue further study in public health and to work on other public health projects.  Christiana began as a volunteer at NCYL in 2006, then became a staff attorney in 2009. Working with Senior Attorney Rebecca Gudeman, Christiana helped develop policies to increase youth’s access to health care and improve cooperation among agencies that serve high-risk children, including those in the foster care and juvenile justice systems. Specifically, she provided legal guidance to health care providers on minor consent, confidentiality, and child abuse reporting laws, and also advised health care providers, school administrators, and social workers on health and education privacy laws. In addition, Christiana worked with the ACLU and Planned Parenthood to bring California schools into compliance with state law mandating student release for confidential medical appointments. She attended Boston University School of Law and earned a Masters in Public Health from UC Berkeley. Good luck, Christiana! We will miss you!


Camile Roberts Departs NCYL

Camille Roberts, who joined NCYL in September 2009 as a deferred associate from Sidley Austin, has completed her tenure at NCYL and joined the litigation department in Sidley Austin’s Los Angeles office. Camille began work at the firm Jan. 3.

While at NCYL, Camille worked primarily on Henry A. v. Willden, a federal lawsuit to reform the child welfare system in Clark County (Las Vegas), Nevada. Camille researched legal issues, gathered evidence, drafted declarations, and acted as liaison to the name (child) plaintiffs’ representatives. Camille also represented several individual children in foster care in Nevada and California, helping with issues including Social Security benefits and foster care placement.


Mathea Falco leaves NCYL Board of Directors

Mathea Falco, president of Drug Strategies, a nonprofit research institute that promotes effective approaches to national drug policy, has left NCYL’s Board of Directors after more than four years of service. Many thanks to Mathea for her work on behalf of NCYL!