September 9, 2014

New Groundbreaking Book for Juvenile and Family Court Judges

Reasonable Efforts: A Judicial Perspective (2014, hardcover, 461 pages)book cover
by Judge Leonard Edwards, publication made possible by the generous support of the Casey Family Programs and Philanthropic Ventures Foundation.

From the Foreword by the Hon. Michael Nash, Presiding Judge of the Los Angeles Juvenile Court:

“… Two goals of this book are to encourage judges and attorneys to be more assertive in their oversight of social service agencies and to examine the ‘reasonable efforts’ issue earlier in the case. …

“As juvenile court judges, we must find that reasonable efforts have been made to prevent the removal of children from their families, that reasonable efforts have been made to give families a meaningful opportunity to reunify after the children have been removed, and that reasonable efforts have been made to secure permanency for children. These findings must be made within the context of every case, taking into consideration the individual strengths and needs of every family and its members. The issues are varied and often complex. …

“For decades, Judge Edwards has been the conscience and the voice for juvenile court judges nationwide. He has helped define and shape our role more than any other juvenile court judge ever. Once again he has raised his voice to emphasize the importance of this part of our role in more depth than has ever been done before. State by state Judge Edwards reviews the statutory scheme on reasonable efforts, the existing case law on the subject and offers commentary from judges and other child welfare system stakeholders. …”

Contents include:

  1. Legislative History
  2. Federal Law and Child Welfare
  3. What is the Definition of Reasonable Efforts
  4. Aggravated Circumstances: When are Reasonable Efforts Unnecessary?
  5. The Indian Child Welfare Act and Active Efforts
  6. State Responses to the Reasonable Efforts Issue
  7. Recurring Factual Situations in the Trial Courts
  8. Challenges to Effective Use of the Reasonable Efforts Findings—Attorneys Representing Parents and Children
  9. Challenges to Effective Use of the Reasonable Efforts Findings—Judges
  10. Recommended Judicial Strategies
  11. Conclusion

Appendices—State-by-state analysis of statutes, case law, and commentary, forms, documents, benchcards, and more

For eBook version, download either:
.mobi file—can be opened in Kindle, including Kindle reader for PC. .epub file—can be opened in various eBook readers, including iBooks on iPad, and Adobe Digital Editions reader for PC.

Juvenile and family court judges and attorneys may request a hardcopy of the book by writing to:

The National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges
Attention: Cheryl Davidek
P.O. Box 8970
Reno, NV 89507

There is no charge for the book, but there will be a small charge for shipping and handling.

September 15, 2012

NEW BOOK for Juvenile and Family Court Judges

by Judge Leonard Edwards, Retired
Available from
See a brief video interview on this topic.]

BOOK REVIEW by Judge Margaret Henry

Juvenile Court is different and so are the ethics that apply to the judges who sit in Juvenile Court. I recall at an ethics training by CJER early in my Juvenile Court judicial career the instructor saying, “A judge may not accept a gift from any party, ever. No exceptions.” My hand shot up. She looked at me and repeated: “No exceptions.” I said: “What about a picture from an 8 year old autistic boy who is a dependent appearing in front of me?” She stared at me for a few seconds, and then said, “OK. There is an exception.”

There was nothing in writing at that time—more particularly, nothing in Judge David M. Rothman’s California Judicial Conduct Handbook that supported the position of an exception. Judge Rothman’s book is, of course, the gold standard of judicial ethics books. As comprehensive as it is, it does not detail the distinctions in the role of the Juvenile Court judge.

Judge Edwards’ new book explains the unique role of the Juvenile Court judge in the context of discussions of ethics. The book takes a very different approach, in structure and content, from California Judicial Conduct Handbook. Judge Edwards’ book uses hypothetical scenarios that Juvenile Court judges may encounter in their work on the bench, identifies practice and ethical issues, and proposes approaches, offering advice and solutions to the judicial officer. The focus is on practical, ethical issues that the Juvenile Court judicial officer encounters.

The book is well indexed and organized. It is divided into three parts: Running the Juvenile Court, Ex Parte Communications, and Working Off the Bench. Each has approximately 30 sections with several scenarios. The Table of Contents can be used to find an exact discussion of an issue facing a Juvenile Court judge.

The author of this book explains the unique role of the Juvenile Court judge and that judges must not shy away from the responsibilities that come with the role. The Introduction to the book should be mandatory reading for all new judges to the Juvenile Court. Experienced juvenile judges will read the Introduction and think, “Exactly. That explains the difference in our role.”

This is a book for specialists—Juvenile Court judges. It should be kept in easy reach of each of us in chambers, right next to the California Judicial Conduct Handbook.

August 14, 2016

Helping Pregnant Women Gain Early Treatment

Editorial by Leonard Edwards and Balaji Govindaswami, special to the San Jose Mercury News on August 12, 2016.

August 7, 2016

Why Should Indian Children be Treated Differently?

Why Should Indian Children be Treated Differently?
The NACC Guardian, Vol 38 · No 06 (August 2016), a publication of the National Association of Counsel for Children.

Attacks on implementation of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) have recently been in the headlines. Several critics of the ICWA have stated that Indian Children should not be treated differently in child welfare and adoption proceedings.

Despite these attacks, there are compelling reasons why the ICWA should be fully implemented. This article outlines some of the reasons for full implementation and argues that there are important reasons why Native American children should receive special treatment in the courts.

June 19, 2016

Child Advocates of Silicon Valley’s 30th Anniversary

Judge Edwards with CASA of Silicon Valley Exec. Director Karen Scussel

(Los Altos Town Crier, June 15, 2016)
Los Altos Hills resident Judge Leonard Edwards, pictured with Child Advocates of Silicon Valley Executive Director Karen Scussel, was among six CASA Heroes and Legends recognized May 21 at the organization’s 30th anniversary gala.

See the article.

February 23, 2016

Reluctant Mother: a courtroom dramatization

A Judge Questions a Reluctant Monther about Paternity

September 20, 2015

California Tribal Court–State Court Forum

The California Tribal Court–State Court Forum has issued its September 2015 E-Update.

July 20, 2015

Using the Reasonable Efforts Tool to Improve Outcomes for Children and Families

J. Robert Lowenbach, a retired Colorado district judge and currently a consultant on child trauma and court improvement, cites Reasonable Efforts: A Judicial Perspective in the National Association of Counsel for Children (NACC)’s The Guardian (Oct./Nov. 2014, reprinted by permission) as a resource for child advocates.

May 18, 2015

Inside the secret court that helps victims of drug abuse keep their families together

This is a recent article on the London Family Drug and Alcohol Court (FDAC), which has been pioneering a new approach to child protection cases in which one or both parents have drug or alcohol problems.

May 18, 2015

Guidelines for State Courts and Agencies in Indian Child Custody Proceedings

These updated guidelines provide guidance to State courts and child welfare agencies implementing the Indian Child Welfare Act’s (ICWA) provisions in light of written and oral comments received during a review of the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) Guidelines for State Courts in Indian Child Custody Proceedings published in 1979. They also reflect recommendations made by the Attorney General’s Advisory Committee on American Indian/Alaska Native Children Exposed to Violence and significant developments in jurisprudence since ICWA’s inception.

March 19, 2015

Reasonable Efforts: A Judicial Perspective

Addressing the Bar Association of San Francisco on February 18, 2015

March 9, 2015

Family Drug and Alcohol Court in the UK

Family Drug and Alcohol Court, initiated in England in 2008, has been extended throughout England and Wales. The Feb. 18, 2015 news article posted on the UK Family Law Week site is available here.

February 5, 2015

Reasonable Efforts Revived

Reasonable Efforts: A Judicial Perspective is noted as a resource on the Intensive Family Preservation Services (IFPS) blog. IFPS provides intensive, in-home crisis intervention, counseling, and life-skills education for families who have children at imminent risk of placement in state-funded care.

December 17, 2014

AP IMPACT: Abused kids die as authorities fail to protect

The Associated Press has published results of its six-year, multi-state study of child fatalities while in protective services—a disturbing report for juvenile court judges.

December 4, 2014

ACEs Too High

The ACEs Too High website grows out of research by Centers for Disease Control and Kaiser Permanente showing that “Adverse Childhood Experiences” (abuse, neglect, parental divorce, etc) correlates closely with chronic illness in adulthood, including autoimmune disorders, heart disease, some types of cancer, COPD, as well as depression and other mental health conditions.

The ACE study is described on the CDC’s website. A video trailer can be seen on the ACEs Too High Resources page.

November 4, 2014

Book Review of The Role of the Juvenile Court Judge: Practice and Ethics

The Hon. Janice M. Rosa (ret.) reviews Judge Edwards’ book The Role of the Juvenile Court Judge: Practice and Ethics.
October 2014,  Family Court Review: An Interdisciplinary Journal

November 4, 2014

Reaching Your Peak: Reasonable Efforts and Children’s Attorneys

A brief op-ed piece posted on the National Association of Counsel for Children (NACC) Blog
November 3, 2014, NACC Blog

November 2, 2014

Dui Hua, China’s Supreme Court Hold 4th Juvenile Justice Exchange

Judge Edwards was the principal participant on the US side when the Dui Hua Foundation held its fourth US-China juvenile justice exchange with the Supreme People’s Court (SPC) in Beijing on October 13–14, 2014. Records sealing was the focus of the exchange.
October 24, 2014,  Dui Hua Foundation website


July 31, 2014

More on the 1964 Mississippi Summer Project

Local judge teaches lesson in civil rights at Los Altos Rotary Club
July 30, 2014, Los Altos Town Crier

July 28, 2014

Just Published on The Judges’ Page—Family Drug Treatment Courts Articles

Just published—Over 20 articles concerning Family Drug Treatment Courts
Summer 2014, The Judges’ Page Newsletter, The National CASA Association

The Judges’ Page Newsletter of the National CASA Association has just published about 20 articles on Family Drug Treatment Courts. I organized the articles, worked with the authors, and contributed two articles of my own.

June 23, 2014

Recalling the 1964 Mississippi Summer Project

Mississippi Summer of 1964: A Santa Clara County judge recalls voting rights struggle
6/19/ 2014,  San Jose Mercury News

December 12, 2013

Dependency Advocacy Center in Santa Clara

This short video describes the Mentor Parent Program, a unique service provided by the Dependency Advocacy Center in Santa Clara County in its representation of parents in juvenile dependency cases.

November 5, 2013

Judicial Leadership in the Juvenile Court

Have you ever wondered why some courts work so well and others do not? Or why some communities seem to respond to delinquent youth more effectively than others? Chances are that the individual juvenile court judge or judges are responsible for the successes. Judicial leadership in the juvenile court can produce remarkably positive results both in and out of the courtroom…post continues on the National Council on Crime and Delinquency blog

June 27, 2013

Understanding the Indian Child Welfare Act

The video was developed by the Mississippi Administrative Office of Courts/Court Improvement Program in consultation with the National Resource Center on Legal and Judicial Issues and the National Resource Center for Tribes as an ICWA educational resource for judges, courts, child welfare, and judicial educators. It is the culmination of the ongoing collaboration between the Mississippi Courts, Child Welfare Agency, the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, and various National Resource Centers, which specifically focus their expertise on educating non tribal entities on the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) and other issues related to Native American values.

June 3, 2013

Judge Edwards speaks to the Family Court Bar in Tokyo, Japan: May 20, 2013

January 28, 2013

Op-ed: Suspensions hurt kids, schools and don’t improve safety

Op-ed: Suspensions hurt kids, schools and don’t improve safety
1/25/2013, San Jose Mercury News

Related article: Out-of-School Suspension and Expulsion
American Academy of Pediatrics, Council on School Health Policy Statement

Related video clip: Ramiro Rubalcaba addressing the California Statewide Hearing on Understanding the School Discipline Issue, Sept. 12, 2012, sponsored by California Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, California Attorney General Kamala Harris, and The California Endowment (Health Happens Here in Schools)

January 20, 2013

Ethics and the Juvenile Court Judge – Interview with Judge Leonard Edwards

An interview by a representative of the American Bar Association’s Child Law Practice. In it Judge Edwards explains why he wrote his most recent book, “The Role of the Juvenile Court Judge: Practice and Ethics.”

January 9, 2013

Working With Juvenile Court Judges in Morocco

A report on my recent trip to Morocco to train juvenile court judges, published in the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (PDF version for print)

August 25, 2012

Alternative Dispute Resolution

[Related material available under VIDEO CLIPS]

ADR in Juvenile Dependency Cases
Summer 2013, The Bench, the official magazine of the California Judges Association

Moving Cases from Juvenile to Family Court: How Mediation Can Help
536 UC Davis Journal of Juvenile Law & Policy Vol. 16:2 (Summer 2012)

Guidelines for Child Protection Mediation
2012, Association of Family and Conciliation Courts

Child Protection Mediation – A 25-Year Perspective
January 2009, Family Court Review

Effective Child Protection Mediation and Domestic Violence
October, 2008, Judge’s Page Newsletter, National CASA Association

Juvenile Court Corner: Dependency Mediation in Child Protection Cases
Summer 2008, The Bench, the official magazine of the California Judges Association

Comments on the Miller Commission Report: A California Perspective
Summer 2007, vol 27, no 4, Pace Law Review, 101

The Transition to Group Decision Making in Child Protection Cases: Obtaining Better Results for Children and Families
Winter 2007, Juvenile and Family Court Journal

The Mediation Miracle
Spring 2006, California Courts Review

Mediation in Child Protection Cases
2004, Journal of the Center for Families, Children & the Courts

Mediation in Juvenile Dependency Court: Multiple Perspectives
Fall 2002, Juvenile and Family Court Journal

Domestic Violence and Mediation: A Dialogue

This article is a response to an article written by William Howe and Hugh McIsaac that questions their recommendations that court-based mediation not be used when certain types of persons appear in court. We assert that it will be very difficult for the court to identify these people. Further, we argue that mediation practice has advanced so far that even these persons (those with serious issues of domestic violence, substance abuse, and mental health) should be given an opportunity to participate in mediation before being referred to the adversarial court process.

Part 2: RESPONSE by William J. Howe and Hugh McIsaac
This is a response to “A Comment on William J. Howe and Hugh McIsaac’s Article ‘Finding the Balance’

Part 3:  SURREPLY by Hon. Leonard Edwards, Steve Baron, and George Ferrick
This is a follow-up to our previous “Comment” responding to an article by William How and Hugh McIsaac.

August 25, 2012


Judicial Leadership and CASA/GAL Programs
Spring 2016, The Judges’ Page Newsletter, The National CASA Association

Promotional Video produced by CASA of Santa Cruz (2015, 5:48 min)


Ethical Issues Involving Juvenile Court Judges and CASA
Judge Leonard Edwards and Cory Pohley, Director, California CASA
December 3, 2013, delivered at Beyond the Bench, Anaheim, CA

CASA Programs and Judicial Ethics
July 2013, The Judges’ Page Newsletter, The National CASA Association

Books Every CASA Library Should Have

The Judicial Role in Creating and Supporting CASA/GAL Programs

Starting a CASA Program in Israel
Winter 2011, The Bench, the official magazine of the California Judges Association

Juvenile Court Corner: Why is CASA So Important For Our Juvenile Courts?
Summer 2009, The Bench, the official magazine of the California Judges Association

Court Improvement in Child Abuse and Neglect Cases: A Historical Perspective
March 2011, Judge’s Page Newsletter, National CASA Association

Effective Child Protection Mediation and Domestic Violence
October, 2008, Judge’s Page Newsletter, National CASA Association

CASA Volunteers and the Education of Foster Children
June 2005, Judge’s Page Newsletter, National CASA Association