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Children’s Advocacy Clinic

Did preschooler Susan Holmes lose her ability to smile, swallow, move, and communicate because her breathing tube was inserted in the wrong place during her trip to the emergency room? In a mock trial at Penn State Law with pediatric medical residents and law students the case hinged on the word “because.”
As details of the Sandusky allegations at Penn State continue to flood national media outlets, the Student Bar Association (SBA) at Penn State Law hosted a panel discussion and forum to attempt to clarify some of the legal issues involved in the case. Clinical Professor Lucy Johnston-Walsh ’97, director of the Children’s Advocacy Clinic, and the Honorable Kim Gibson ’75, U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania and adjunct faculty member, led the discussion.
In the wake of the allegations concerning Penn State employees released in the grand jury presentment last week, the Law School community has been struggling along with the rest of the University community and public to come to terms with the horrific details as they emerge. According to Dean Philip McConnaughay, "We feel deep sadness for the children involved, outrage at their alleged treatment, and shame over allegations that members of the University’s administration may have missed opportunities to expose and stop the alleged abuse."
Penn State medical and legal Professions join forces for mock trial.
Pediatric medical residents from Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital will visit the Law School to participate in “Treating Medical Errors: A Colloquium.” Penn State Law students will try elements of a civil medical malpractice case, with nurses and nursing students serving as jurors and residents serving as expert witnesses.
The Center for Children and the Law will host a panel discussion on October 21 titled "Impacting the Public Policy Process: Making Good Policy in Bad Economic Times." Panelists include Pennsylvania Senator Patricia Vance, Pennsylvania State Representative Stephen Bloom '87, and lobbyist Jay A. Layman '75.
At the request of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, Professor Michael Foreman, director of Penn State Law's Civil Rights Appellate Clinic and clinical professor, testified at the hearing on "Workplace Fairness: Has the Supreme Court Been Misinterpreting Laws Designed to Protect American Workers from Discrimination?" The hearing was held on Wednesday, October 7, at 10:00 a.m. in room 226 of the Dirksen Senate Office Building
Older adolescents in foster care are among society’s most vulnerable populations and have recently become a focus of attention across Pennsylvania. As part of an initiative of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s Office of Children & Youth and Families in the Court, a working group convened at the Penn State Law Children’s Advocacy Clinic has advocated for an improved local judicial procedure and providing training for social workers, attorneys, and foster youth. Communities across the state have led working groups to improve the process for youth transitioning to independence from foster care.
Since 1972, children in abuse and neglect matters have had a right to legal representation through the appointment of guardians ad litem. Effective legal representation and advocacy for children in the dependency system can make a huge difference in improving the chances that fair and accurate determinations are made. However, a lack of investment in supervision, training, and compensation of these child advocates continues to harm children.
The Penn State Children’s Advocacy Clinic recently teamed up with several organizations to draft legislation that would require county children and youth agencies to make every reasonable effort to place siblings together in foster care unless doing so is contrary to the safety and well-being of any sibling. Sponsored by State Representative Briggs (D-Montgomery), House Bill 2258: Keeping Siblings in Foster Care Together unanimously passed (49-0) in the Pennsylvania Senate on October 13, 2010, and was signed by Governor Ed Rendell on November 24, 2010.

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