Mia Tyminski

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The criminal legal system is no stranger to the concept of race-conscious ethics.2 However, discussions surrounding other conscious-based ethics in our criminal legal system are scarce. Conscious-based ethics explore the need to understand the hardships a specific group undergoes without blinding oneself to the characteristics of the group. Conscious-based ethics seek out methods that reflect the historical significance and identities of specific groups.

There is a need for LGBTQIA+-conscious practices in the criminal legal system, especially within the juvenile criminal legal system. Youth that identify within the LGBTQIA+ community are more likely to engage with the criminal legal system than heterosexual youth.3 Additionally, LGBTQIA+ youth in the criminal legal system are less likely to receive adequate mental health services.4 Implementing LGBTQIA+-conscious ethics within our juvenile criminal legal system may assist in dismantling the school-to-prison pipeline that so many children are forced into. Zealous advocates should be the first line of defense in ensuring that their young clients do not fall victim to the criminal legal system.

First, this paper defines race-conscious ethics as an example to better understand how LGBTQIA+-conscious ethics can be beneficial to our criminal legal system.5 Next, this paper considers the role of the zealous advocate, what it means to fight for one’s client, and other concerns one may have working with an LGBTQIA+ client in connection to Sections 1.2 and 8.4 of the Model Rules of Professional Conduct (“MRPC”).6 Third, this paper explores the need for LGBTQIA+-conscious ethics in criminal defense by analyzing cases with adult defendants that identify with the LGBTQIA+ community and exploring current LGBTQIA+-focused practices in public defenders’ offices and court systems in the United States.7 Then, this paper turns its attention to LGBTQIA+ youth in the criminal legal system, looking specifically at how and why it is within the role of the zealous advocate to consider the gender identity and sexual orientation of their younger clients.8 Finally, this paper examines the need to implement LGBTQIA+-conscious practices for youth so that the school-to-prison pipeline may be combatted.9

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Juvenile Law Commons



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