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Law Clinic professor honored for work with juveniles

November 9, 2012

Majeeda Snead, J.D. ’84, clinical professor in the Stuart H. Smith Law Clinic and Center for Social Justice at Loyola University New Orleans’ College of Law, was honored Oct. 20 with a 2012 Justice of Youth Award from the Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana. The award recognizes her work over the past four years with a juvenile charged with murder and armed robbery in New Orleans.

“As an attorney, Majeeda represents the highest aspirations of our profession. Her tireless and zealous advocacy literally saved a young teenager’s life. As a clinical professor, she has inspired countless law students. One need only look at the number of her students in attendance at JJPL’s gala to see her profound impact,” said Carol Kolinchak, legal director and managing director of JJPL, who presented Snead with her award.

The high profile 2009 case revolved around a French Quarter bartender who was murdered in a botched armed robbery. Although two other 15-year-olds charged were transferred to adult court, Snead was contacted by the father of the third suspect, only 14 at the time of the crime.

Snead was keenly aware of the limited legal resources available to indigent defendants in general and in particular to those in juvenile court.

“This afforded a great opportunity to have my students involved in a holistic way of representation which requires one to not only consider the acts of a child but also consider how the effects of adolescent brain development contributes to adolescent behavior,” Snead said.

The representation focused not only on investigating and addressing the very serious charges alleged but also looking into the suspect’s family history, educational background, and working with several psychiatrists, psychologists, educational specialists, social workers and community activists.

Snead and her students worked to prevent the juvenile from being removed and housed with adult prisoners and tried in adult court.

“After accomplishing that goal, we also worked to make sure the educational services available to him while in detention included tutors to help remediate his limited academic performance. Finally, we worked on a reintegration plan to provide the youth with opportunities to continue with his academic pursuits, job training and counseling upon release,” Snead said.

“While it was never alleged that he was the shooter and he consistently denied any involvement, we successfully negotiated a plea agreement wherein the juvenile was allowed to plea nolo contendere and work toward a GED and a trade,” Snead said.

On Oct. 12, 2012, the court issued a ruling after hearing five days of testimony and found the juvenile had satisfied the terms of the plea agreement over the state’s objection and granted his release, two days before his 18th birthday and three years earlier than the age 21 timeframe as required by law. Although the juvenile has been released, the state has filed a notice of intent to seek an appeal.

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