Office of Juvenile Defense Services (OJDS)

Court proceedings which involve children and adolescents facing juvenile delinquency charges in New Jersey operate under special rules and present legal and social issues and opportunities that can be different from those arising in adult criminal cases.  For example, juvenile delinquency cases are heard in Family Court where the judge has jurisdiction over both the child and the child's family members; the proceedings are typically closed to the public; and the judge has a wide range of dispositional options available to fulfill the rehabilitative goals of the NJ Code of Juvenile Justice.

A study commissioned by the NJOPD in 1999 resulted in the establishment of the Office of Juvenile Defense Services (OJDS) within the NJOPD, whose primary purposes are to provide a specialized and coordinated approach to representing juveniles and to function as a central information clearinghouse.  The Director of the OJDS directs a variety of programming initiatives such as: developing specialized training for public defender attorneys who represent juvenile clients; disseminating information on relevant developing case law, resources and research; and creating opportunities for juvenile defenders to exchange information and ideas.

In addition to assisting the Public Defender in planning and implementing agency-wide policy and practice, the Director of the OJDS is the Public Defender's designee on numerous statewide juvenile justice committees.

The OJDS is located in NJOPD headquarters in the Richard J. Hughes Justice Complex in Trenton, New Jersey.  The current Director of the OJDS is First Assistant Public Defender Joseph J. Russo.

 Contact the OJDS at either 609-292-7087 (Telephone) or 609-292- 777-4496 (Fax).