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Marsha Levick
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 Roper v. Simmons, where the U. S. Supreme Court struck the juvenile death penalty under the Eighth Amendment; Graham v. Florida, where the U. S. Supreme Court struck life without parole sentences for juveniles convicted of non-homicide offenses under the Eighth Amendment; J.D.B. v North Carolina, where the U.S. Supreme Court ruled for the first time that a juvenile’s age is relevant to the Miranda custody analysis under the Fifth Amendment; and Miller v. Alabama, where the Supreme Court banned mandatory sentences of life without parole for juveniles convicted of homicide offenses. Levick is a frequent speaker and lecturer on children’s rights nationwide, and has also co-authored numerous scholarly articles on children’s rights, including zero tolerance policies, girls in the juvenile justice system, juveniles' right to effective counsel; the emergence of a juvenile Eighth Amendment standard; and the emergence of a ‘reasonable juvenile’ standard in criminal law.

Levick serves on the boards of the Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana; Southern Poverty Law Center; the Dean's Council, Indiana University School of Public and Environmental Affairs; the advisory board of Rutgers-Camden Law School's Juvenile Justice Clinic; and the advisory board of Bureau of National Affairs Criminal Law Reporter.

Levick is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and Temple University Law School. Levick is currently an adjunct faculty member at both the University of Pennsylvania Law School and Temple University Beasley School of Law.

Entries by Marsha Levick

Celebrating the 10th Anniversary of Roper v. Simmons: One Small Step for Christopher Simmons, One Giant Step for Juvenile Justice Reform

(0) Comments | Posted March 2, 2015 | 1:00 PM

"The Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments forbid imposition of the death penalty on offenders who were under the age of 18 when their crimes were committed. The judgment of the Missouri Supreme Court setting aside the sentence of death imposed upon Christopher Simmons is affirmed." Supreme Court of the United States,...

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Mark Wahlberg Has a Problem, and He's Not the Only One

(2) Comments | Posted December 18, 2014 | 1:18 PM

By: Marsha Levick, Deputy Director & Chief Counsel, Juvenile Law Center
and Scott Budnick, Film producer and Founder, The Anti-Recidivism Coalition (ARC)

Mark Wahlberg has a major problem stemming from his days as a minor. Now 43, he is asking Massachusetts' Governor Deval Patrick for a...

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A "Coloring Book" Standard for the Care of Children in Adult Jails?

(0) Comments | Posted October 22, 2014 | 3:56 PM

A 10-year old child was recently arrested and charged with murder in Pennsylvania. Under existing state law, this little boy must be charged as an adult, although he can petition the criminal court judge to have his case transferred to juvenile court. This 10-year old child is currently being held...

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As Another Young Boy Commits Suicide in an Adult Prison, We Must Rethink the Prosecution of Children as Adults

(67) Comments | Posted September 23, 2014 | 12:48 PM

Zachary Proper, age 15, committed suicide two weeks ago in an adult prison in Pennsylvania. There has been little media coverage of his death, suggesting a disturbing complacency about suicide by youth who would rather take their own lives than endure decades in jail.

How did Zachary end up...

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Reflections on Justice After Ferguson, MO: When Will Youth of Color Receive the Same Due Process as Officer Darren Wilson?

(7) Comments | Posted September 2, 2014 | 3:02 PM

Co-authored with Mae C. Quinn, Professor of Law
Washington University School of Law
St. Louis, Missouri


It's been several weeks since Michael Brown was shot by Officer Darren Wilson. The investigation and grand jury proceedings continue as community members in Ferguson,...

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Between Hope and Despair, Waiting for Meaningful Implementation of Miller v. Alabama

(0) Comments | Posted June 24, 2014 | 3:57 PM

Co-authored with Jody Kent Lavy and Ashley Nellis

Joe Ligon is a 75-year-old inmate who was condemned to die in a prison in Philadelphia over six decades ago for a murder he witnessed, but did not commit. With no disciplinary infractions and serious health issues, including cancer, he...

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It's About Education, Stupid!

(0) Comments | Posted April 28, 2014 | 4:48 PM

In a recent editorial, the New York Times decried our failure to educate incarcerated youth placed in juvenile justice facilities. Citing a recent report by the Southern Education Foundation, the editorial noted "nearly two-thirds of the young people who were confined in 2010 were confined for nonviolent offenses... and that...

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The Solitary Confinement of Children: Child Abuse by Any Other Name

(2) Comments | Posted March 18, 2014 | 9:17 AM

As a lawyer, I have advocated for the rights of children for nearly 40 years. I have successfully challenged policies and practices that harm children across the United States and written briefs in cases before the United States Supreme Court that helped to upend prevailing notions about children, crime and...

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No Tolerance for Zero Tolerance

(0) Comments | Posted March 7, 2014 | 2:17 PM

For the last 15 years, the United States has had a love affair with "zero-tolerance policies" and this week's Ohio headlines citing the suspension of 10-year-old Nathan Entingh for pretending to use his finger as a gun is a prime example. Politicians loved it, schools loved it, parents...

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