Miami Law's Children & Youth Law Clinic celebrated a hard-fought victory last week, when the Florida Supreme Court adopted a rule abolishing the indiscriminate use of restrains (handcuffs, chains, irons, or straightjackets) on children in juvenile courtrooms. The victory is a capstone of several years of work by the Clinic, including the submission of expert affidavits prepared by Miami Law Professors Bruce Winick and Bernard Perlmutter in anti-shackling litigation in Florida and around the country and an amicus briefs filed by the Clinic in the Fourth District Court of Appeal and Florida Supreme Court.
In its opinion, the court specifically acknowledges therapeutic jurisprudence as one of the reasons favoring the adoption of the rule. Several Miami Law students worked with Perlmutter on the briefs, and one of Clinic's certified legal interns, 3L Mia Goldhagen, presented oral argument in the Supreme Court this past June.
The Florida Rules of Juvenile Procedure governs the procedures in the juvenile division of the circuit court in the exercise of its jurisdiction under Florida law. The new rule will require the removal of instruments of restraint, such as handcuffs, chains, irons, or straightjackets on a child during a court proceeding unless the court finds that the use of restraints is necessary to prevent harm, the child has a history of disruptive courtroom conduct, or the child is a flight risk.
The Children & Youth Law Clinic is an in-house, live-client clinic established in 1995 by the Law School. Supervised by two clinical instructors who are licensed Florida attorneys, the Clinic has a caseload of approximately 60 active cases, in which approximately a dozen student interns each semester provide direct legal services to clients in a range of legal matters. For more information, visit the Children & Youth Law Clinic webpage.