The 2018 Edward Ross Lecture in Litigation

March 20, 2018

Children’s Rights Litigation in The Age of Trump: “The Fierce Urgency of Now”

Marsha Levick, Deputy Director and Chief Counsel, co-founded Juvenile Law Center in 1975. Throughout her legal career, Levick has been an advocate for children’s and women’s rights and is a nationally recognized expert in juvenile law. Levick oversees Juvenile Law Center’s litigation and appellate docket. She has successfully litigated challenges to unlawful and harmful laws, policies and practices on behalf of children in both the juvenile justice and child welfare systems.  Levick also spearheaded Juvenile Law Center’s litigation arising out of the Luzerne County, Pennsylvania juvenile court judges’ corruption scandal, known as the “kids for cash” scandal, where Juvenile Law Center successfully sought the expungement and vacatur of thousands of juveniles’ cases before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, and is pursuing civil damages for the children and their families in a federal civil rights class action.

Levick has authored or co-authored numerous appellate and amicus briefs in state and federal appeals courts throughout the country, including many before the US Supreme Court, and has argued before both state and federal appellate courts in Pennsylvania and numerous other jurisdictions. Levick co-authored the lead child advocates’ amicus briefs in key recent United States Supreme Court cases, including Roper v. Simmons (juvenile death penalty unconstitutional under the Eighth Amendment); Graham v. Florida (life without parole sentences for juveniles convicted of non-homicide offenses unconstitutional under the Eighth Amendment); J.D.B. v. North Carolina (a juvenile’s age is relevant to the Miranda custody analysis under the Fifth Amendment); and Miller v. Alabama (mandatory sentences of life without parole for juveniles convicted of homicide offenses unconstitutional under the Eighth Amendment). Levick also served as co-counsel in Montgomery v Louisiana, where the Supreme Court ruled Miller retroactive throughout the country. Levick is a frequent speaker and lecturer on children’s rights nationwide, and has also co-authored numerous scholarly articles on children’s rights.

Levick serves on the boards of the Louisiana Center for Children’s Rights and the Southern Poverty Law Center, and is a member of the Dean’s Council, Indiana University School of Public and Environmental Affairs. Levick has received numerous awards for her work, including:

  • Temple University’s Women’s Law Caucus Professional Achievement Award (2006)
  • Pennsylvania Bar Association Child Advocate of the Year Award (2008)
  • Foundation for the Improvement of Justice Award (2009)
  • Philadelphia Bar Association’s Andrew Hamilton Award (2009)
  • Philadelphia Inquirer Citizen of the Year (2009) (co-recipient)
  • American Association for Justice Leonard Weinglass Award (2010)
  • American Bar Association Livingston Hall Award (2010)
  • Rutgers-Camden Black Law Student Association Champion of Justice Award (2010)
  • The Legal Intelligencer, Women of Distinction (2010)
  • Clifford Scott Green Bill of Rights Award, Federal Bar Association, Philadelphia Criminal Justice Section (2010) (co-recipient)
  • Good Shepherd Mediation Program Shepherd of Peace Award (2010)
  • Philadelphia Bar Association, Criminal Justice Section Thurgood Marshall Award (2011) (Co-recipient)
  • Friends Select School, Distinguished Alumnae Award (2011)
  • Arlen Specter Award, The Legal Intelligencer (2013)
  • Philadelphia Award (2015)

Levick was a finalist for The Legal Intelligencer 2016 Attorney of the Year. Levick is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and Temple University Law School. Levick is currently an adjunct faculty member at Temple University Beasley School of Law.