Archive for ‘News & Commentary’

June 17, 2022

Reasonable Efforts: A Judicial Perspective, 2nd Edition, Book Announcement

Reasonable Efforts: A Judicial Perspective, 2nd Edition, is made possible by the generous support of Casey Family Programs and is published by the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ), the nation’s largest and oldest judicial membership organization.

May 10, 2022

Guest Interview podcast on The Imprint, Youth & Family News

Judge Len Edwards joins The Imprint, an independent daily news outlet focused on the nation’s child welfare and youth justice systems, to talk about the “reasonable efforts” standards in child welfare policy, his book on that topic, the rise of relatives in the system, and the future of the Indian Child Welfare Act. 

May 9, 2022 Podcast Episode

January 13, 2021

Opinion: At-risk infants need our attention now more than ever

Opinion Section, Wednesday, 1/13/2021, The Mercury News

December 23, 2018

Let’s Outlaw Spanking Young Children in California

Editorial by Leonard Edwards, special to the San Jose Mercury News on December 23, 2018.

December 19, 2018

Evaluation of Los Angeles County’s Upfront Family Finding Pilot

Child Trends, the nation’s leading nonprofit research organization focused exclusively on improving the lives and prospects of children, youth, and their families, has published a study on Los Angeles County’s Upfront Family Finding Pilot program. The pilot has resulted in remarkable results for relative placement.

May 6, 2018

Op-Ed on Judicial Independence

Other Voices: Why Judge Persky should not be recalled
April 25, 2018 Op-Ed piece in the Los Altos Town Crier

January 28, 2018

Resilience Trailer

Resilience Trailer – KPJR Films from KPJR FILMS LLC on Vimeo.

May 16, 2017

Access Denied: National Snapshot of States’ Failure to Protect Children’s Right to Counsel

Access Denied: A National Snapshot of States’ Failure to Protect Children’s Right to Counsel (May 2017)
A new publication of the National Juvenile Defender Center (NJDL)

February 5, 2017

County needs to help kids whose moms are in jail

County needs to help kids whose moms are in jail
Editorial by Leonard Edwards and Susan Eilenberg, who is a trustee of the San Jose Unified School District and member of the Santa Clara County Commission on the Status of Women. They wrote this for the San Jose Mercury News, February 3, 2017.

In response, a letter to the Editor:
SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS: February 7, 2017

Thanks to Judge Len Edwards and Susan Ellenberg for highlighting the need “to help kids whose moms are in jail” (Opinion, Feb. 3). Studies show parental incarceration has a profound impact on children due to the trauma of separation, the secrecy that often surrounds it, the stigma the child feels, and the financial hardships that can result in lifelong poverty. There is also data to show that a father’s incarceration has a particularly negative influence on boys who are more likely to have increased juvenile delinquency and are less likely to complete college.

We need to implement Edwards’ and Ellenberg’s recommended steps to decrease incarceration of mothers. We also need to design a support system for families affected by incarceration that includes programs to encourage parentchild connection, social-emotional support for children, and financial supports that relieve the chronic stress of having a missing wage-earner.

Dana Bunnett
Director, Kids in Common Planned Parenthood Mar Monte

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.

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 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

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

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 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 9, 2012

News Release & Commentary

                                                                         For immediate release
Contact: Cheryl Davidek
(775) 784-1652                                                                                                        August 6, 2012

Judge Michael Nash Named President of

National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges

      Judge Michael Nash, Presiding Judge of the Juvenile Court in the Los Angeles Superior Court, was installed as President of the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ) during the organization’s annual conference held July 15-18, 2012 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Judge Nash will be leading a Board of 29 juvenile and family court judges from across the country, and a membership of nearly 2,000 judicial officers and related system professionals. Under his leadership, the NCJFCJ will continue efforts to improve system practice in the handling of cases involving children and families through research, training of judges and others, technical assistance to systems, and through shaping national policy.

First appointed to the Los Angeles Municipal Court bench in 1985, Judge Nash has served on the Los Angeles Superior Court bench since 1989. Judge Nash has been a juvenile court judge since 1990 and has served as the Presiding Judge of the Los Angeles Juvenile Court or Supervising Judge of the Dependency Court since 1995. Judge Nash also serves as a Lead Judge in NCJFCJ’s Child Victims Act Model Courts Project, implementing strategies designed to improve the courts’ handling of child abuse and neglect cases.

A graduate of the University of California at Los Angeles and Loyola Law School, Judge Nash was Deputy Attorney General in the California Attorney General’s Office from 1974-1985, and was co-prosecutor in the notorious Hillside Strangler trial in 1981-83.

He is a past member of the California Judicial Council, a member of and past Chair of the Juvenile Court Judges of California (JCJC), a member of the California Judicial Council’s Family and Juvenile Advisory Committee and a member of California’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Children in Foster Care.  He is also a member of the California Child Welfare Council. Judge Nash has received numerous awards including being named Juvenile Court Judge of the Year by the Juvenile Court Judges of California in 1997 and 2006 Judge of the Year by the National CASA Association.

Founded in 1937, the Reno, Nevada-based National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, the nation’s oldest judicial membership organization, is focused on improving the effectiveness of our nation’s juvenile and family courts. A leader in continuing education opportunities, research, and policy development in the field of juvenile and family justice, the NCJFCJ is unique in providing practice-based resources to jurisdictions and communities nationwide.


Judge Nash’s inauguration as President of the NCJFCJ is good news for the organization.  Judge Nash has been the longest serving Presiding Judge of the Juvenile Court in the history of the Los Angeles Superior Court.  He presides over the largest juvenile court in the United States, if not the world.  His initiatives have resulted in significant changes in child welfare  including a reduction of children in foster care, the closing of the MacLaren Children’s Center, the creation of National Adoption Day, and numerous policy and procedural innovations.  Most recently Judge Nash “opened” the juvenile dependency courts, issuing a court order declaring that all dependency hearings are presumptively open, but giving the judicial officer the discretion to close a particular hearing upon a proper showing.  While this court order was hotly contested, after several months it appears that no harm has come to any child while at the same time the public has had a much clearer picture of what happens in juvenile dependency court.