options to mitigate this potential harm. Federal law provides a number of such options, including
testimony through closed-circuit television, videotaped deposition, and clearing the courtroom
prior to the child’s testimony.62
GALs may also request protective orders for any evidence regarding the child that would
otherwise be publicly available, and should vigilantly challenge the defendant from accessing
confidential information about the child witness during the discovery process.63 In Washington,
D.C. for example, attorneys representing adult defendants may apply to inspect the case records
of juvenile victims in those cases.64 GALs should request notice and the opportunity to be heard
if such an application for inspection is filed, and then motion the court accordingly to avoid
“The [GAL] may perform a variety of roles, including those of independent investigator,
advocate, and advisor to the child.”66 In some instances, “[ i]f the same child is involved in more
than one court proceeding (e.g., a child protection case and a criminal case), the [GAL] may also
serve the important purpose of bridging the gap between the various courts.”67 The GAL may, at
times, be the only professional working with the child who is able to advocate in multiple
forums.68 Where a CSEC victim is put at increased risk by testifying against his or her
perpetrator as a witness, GALs may have the knowledge and skills to help develop a safety plan
with the client, to involve the appropriate caregivers and clinicians to develop such a plan, or to
make requests for court orders as needed to ensure the client’s safety.
D. Developing a Case Theory
Successful child advocacy is rooted in a strong and persuasive case theory.69 “The theory
of the case is your explanation of what has happened and why – it is the lawyer’s ‘depiction of
the child and her world, to convince the Powers that Be to honor the child’s objectives.’”70
Although developing a case theory and theme is traditionally undertaken during trial preparation,
child advocates should apply and refine their case theories at all stages of the case, both inside
and outside of the courtroom.
For cases involving the commercial sexual exploitation of children, developing a case
theory will reframe the narrative of the child’s life from what other involved professionals and the
court may already perceive it to be. Because these youths often come to the attention of the courts
as offenders rather than victims, they will likely be viewed as such.71 The common risk factors
62 18 U.S.C.A. § 3509(b), (e) (West 2014).
63 Id. § 3509(d).
64 D.C. ATTORNEY PRACTICE STANDARDS, supra note 39, at 26.
65 For example, in Washington, D.C., a Brown Motion is the appropriate method to make such a request. See Brown v. United States,
567 A.2d 426, 428 (D.C. 1989) (requiring prior leave of court before any subpoenas may be served for the production of material
covered by statutory doctor-patient privilege).
66 CHILD WELFARE INFO. GATEWAY, U.S. DEP’T HEATH & HUM. SERVS., The Court System and Child Abuse and Neglect, in
WORKING WITH THE COURTS IN CHILD PROTECTION (2012), available at
68 This observation is based on the authors’ experience.
69 See ABA STANDARDS, supra note 47 (RULE B-1(6)) (including “develop[ing] a theory and strategy of the case” as a child attorney’s
70 CHILD WELFARE LAW AND PRACTICE: REPRESENTING CHILDREN, PARENTS, AND STATE AGENCIES IN ABUSE, NEGLECT AND
DEPENDENCY CASES 531 (Marvin Ventrell & Donald N. Duquette, eds., 2005) (quoting JEAN KOH PETERS, REPRESENTING CHILDREN
IN CHILD PROTECTIVE PROCEEDINGS: ETHICAL AND PRACTICAL DIMENSIONS 147 (1997)).
71 The authors note that another important step in advocating for these children is determining whether or not the local court system
has been educated and engaged in preventing the commercial sexual exploitation of children. In the authors’ jurisdiction, the District
of Columbia, the local court has established a committee of stakeholders that meets on a bi-monthly basis to address the issue of
CSEC youth who come through, and between, the family and juvenile courts. Forming such a multi-disciplinary task force is a helpful
best practice that curbs the tendency for various public systems – such as child welfare, juvenile justice, mental health and education –
to silo their work. See REBECCA EPSTEIN & PETER EDELMAN, BLUEPRINT: A MULTIDISCIPLINARY APPROACH TO THE DOMESTIC SEX