Top Juvenile Justice Lawyer and Advocate Joins the Case of the Elkhart 4


As we have already reported the Juvenile Law Center filed an amicus curiae in support of the appeals of Levi Sparks and Blake Layman. The Court of Appeals for Indiana approved this week an amendment to the amicus curiae submitted by the Juvenile Law Center in support of Layman and Sparks. What is significant about this amendment is that is was signed by lawyer Marsha Levick. Ms. Levick has also been approved by the Court of Appeals to be a lawyer in this case even though she is not licensed to practice in Indiana.

When it comes to cases involving juvenile law Marsha Levick is one of the most influential lawyers in the United States. Ms. Levick c0-founded the Juvenile Law Center in 1975.  Ms. Levick currently is the Deputy Director and the Chief Counsel for the organization.    The Juvenile Law Center’s website describes itself as,

the oldest non-profit, public interest law firm for children in the United States. Founded in 1975 by four new graduates of Temple Law School in Philadelphia, Juvenile Law Center has become a national advocate for children’s rights, working across the country to enforce and promote the rights and well-being of children who come into contact with the justice, child welfare and other public systems.

Ms. Levick is also a professor of Law at The University of Pennsylvania Law School.

In her career Ms. Levick has written numerous amicus curiae supporting juvenile defendants including co-authoring the lead child advocate briefs in some of the most important recent Supreme Court of the United States decisions including Roper v. Simmons (abolished the death penalty for juveniles), Graham v. Florida (abolished life without parole for non-homicide offensives), J.D.B v. North Carolina and Miller v. Alabama (abolished mandatory life without parole for juveniles).

By becoming personally involved in the case Ms. Levick is bringing her years of experience advocating for juveniles nationally to the case of the Elkhart 4. Her personal involvement in this case demonstrates the importance of the issues being argued in these appeals. For those supporting the Elkhart 4 the addition of Ms. Levick to the appeals is a very significant development in the case.

In other news the State of Indiana has submitted their brief responding to the briefs submitted by the lawyers for Layman and Sparks. According to Indiana Court of Appeals rules each brief should be thirty pages and no more than 14 000 words. The Court of Appeals approved the states request to file an extended brief and increased their word count to 21 000. This is a good decision because it gives the state the opportunity to respond to the four briefs filed by the lawyers for Blake Layman, Levi Sparks, Juvenile Law Center and the Indiana Public Defenders Council. Given the substantive legal issues this case brings up it was important that the State had the opportunity to respond to the arguments forwarded in those four supportive briefs.

Now the lawyers for Layman and Sparks have their opportunity to respond and then the state will be provided with an opportunity to respond. We will continue to update our readers as the appeals progress.


Rules of the Indiana Court of Appeals

Juvenile Law Center

Biography of Marsha Levick


  • Linda Iavagnilio

    This is really exciting and gives alot of hope for their future.So proud of all of you who refuse to give up!!! Linda I

    • I agree Linda that this is exciting, but be cautious. Appeals are often tricky and most appeals are not successful. In Indiana approximately 86% of appeals are refused. That being said, given the facts of this case the the support from the legal and academic communities there is good reason to be hopeful and optimistic.