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Criminal Defense Clinic Fall 2017 Updates

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Sturm College of Law

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This year, Associate Professor Robin Walker Sterling is teaching and researching as a Visiting Professor and Fulbright Scholar at the University of Ghana School of Law in Accra. Walker Sterling is the first clinical professor at Denver Law to receive a Fulbright award.

As a Visiting Professor at the University of Ghana School of Law, Walker Sterling is presenting a series of lectures as part of the Gender and the Law course and is teaching a seminar on juvenile justice issues to Ph.D. students. “I am so lucky to work with this group of students, who are from all over the continent – I have students from Ghana, Rwanda, South Africa, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Teaching them has really helped me advance my thinking about juvenile justice, the tie between our country’s recent move away from rehabilitative principles and the erosion of informal social institutions, and the ways that juvenile system stakeholders can reify the commonsense notion that system-involved children should not be treated the same as system-involved adults. I hope they are learning from me as much as I am learning from them.”

Walker Sterling is also working with members of the law school faculty and other system stakeholders to revise the group of laws that make up Ghana’s Children’s Code. Beginning in mid-October, Walker Sterling be part of a team that will travel around the country, including to the Volta and Ashanti Regions, to talk with juvenile system stakeholders about what parts of the current laws work well in their jurisdictions, what parts do not, and how the system might be improved. The team will synthesize this data into a report that contains comprehensive recommendations for revisions. The goal is that, by June 2018, the team’s recommendations will have been translated into legislation that Parliament has passed. “I am thrilled at this chance to have such a lasting impact on juvenile justice in Ghana, and to work with such a talented and committed group of scholars, advocates, and lawyers.”

Walker Sterling’s research will examine ways in which recent adolescent brain development findings have been incorporated into Ghana’s juvenile justice system, and will explore the intersectionality of race and age as applied to black youth. “So far, my time here in Ghana has been wonderful, in ways both large and small. I am so grateful to my home faculty at Denver Law for their incredible support, to the faculty at the University of Ghana School of Law, who could not be more welcoming, and to my students, who could not be more intellectually open and generous. And I’m also grateful to everyone here who has been very patient with my accent.”