Lourdes Rosado ’95, a former Root-Tilden-Snow Scholar, and colleague Marsha Levick, attorneys at Philadelphia’s Juvenile Law Center, have been named by the Philadelphia Inquirer as 2009 Citizens of the Year for their role in exposing juvenile court judges’ involvement in an alleged criminal scheme in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania.

The Inquirer reported that the Juvenile Law Center’s involvement began when the mother of a teenager sent to a juvenile-detention facility contacted the organization. The 15-year-old girl had received a 90-day sentence for making fun of a vice principal at her school on MySpace, having pleaded guilty after county officials discouraged her and her mother from seeking legal counsel. Rosado, associate director of the Juvenile Law Center, worked with Levick to collect data showing that juvenile defendants in the county appeared in court without representation 10 times more often than the state average.

Rosado and Levick repeatedly sought redress at the state supreme court level, but were thwarted until the FBI charged two juvenile court judges, including the one who had sentenced the 15-year-old girl, with taking more than $1.3 million apiece from the operator of two juvenile-detention facilities in exchange for high-dollar contracts. The facilities received payment for each inmate.

A number of children were freed due to Rosado and Levick’s efforts. Last October, the state supreme court expunged the criminal records of more than 6,500 convicted juveniles in light of what it deemed a “travesty of justice.”

Posted on January 5, 2010