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Kenton Public Defenders Honored with State Award

Susie Bookser, a lawyer with the Public Defenders office on Scott Boulevard in Covington, was honored with the prestigious annual In re Gault Award from the Department of Public Advocacy, on June 18, 2013.
 
In notifying her of the award, Ed Monahan, the Public Advocate, said, “ You are being honored for your skill and advocacy in the courtroom, for making the Kentucky criminal 
justice system fair and humane for Kentucky’s youth and children, and for reminding us that neither the Fourteenth Amendment nor the Bill of Rights are for adults alone.”
 
A significant portion Ms. Bookser’s award-winning work has been focused on encouraging Kenton Family Court Judges to find alternatives to incarceration for children who are truant or runaways and to help Kenton County lose the dubious first place standing it held in recent years as the County that locked up more of these children than any other county in the Commonwealth, by a large margin. Ms. Bookser represented these children in court and collaborated with an engaged team of social workers, school staff, Kenton County Attorney staff, the Children’s Law Center and the Family Court Judges Mehling and Bushelman.
 
Working together, Kenton County is developing more effective and compassionate methods to keep our children succeeding in school and living responsibly in safe homes. 
 
Ms. Bookser joined the Public Defenders in 2006 at age 55, after a full first career dedicated to children and adults with disabilities. She has been employed in schools, residentialagencies and training facilities providing direct care to people, as well as acting as an advocate and educator. She has worked throughout Ohio, Colorado and Canada. She graduated fromNorthern Kentucky University, Chase College of Law.
 
Ms. Bookser has made Kentucky her home since 1985.
 
Background: In re Gault, a unanimous 1967 US Supreme Court decision, determined for the first time that children in court for delinquency and facing incarceration are entitled to certain procedural safeguards under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Ray Gault, age 15, was sentenced to and was serving a 6-year term of incarceration in a juvenile detention center for making an obscene phone call, a charge that an adult, if convicted, would have received a $50.00 fine and two months in a jail as a maximum sentence. Worse, Gault’s accuser never appeared in court to testify, it is not clear that Gault made any admissions of guilt, and no record of any of the hearings was made.
 
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