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Professors Receive Grant from American Bar Endowment

Posted in: Homepage News and Events, Justice Studies, Psychology, Research

photos of Tarika Daftary-Kapur and Tina Zottoli and a logo of American Bar Endowment below

Dr. Tarika Daftary-Kapur, Associate Professor of Justice Studies, and Dr. Tina Zottoli, Associate Professor of Psychology were recently award a grant from the American Bar Endowment under their Opportunity Grant Program, for a project, entitled, “Competency of adolescent defendants to enter guilty pleas: Development of a rapid screening tool for attorneys.” This is a very competitive program. Drs. Daftary-Kapur and Zottoli, along with their graduate students Kimberly Echevarria and Aliya Brimbaum, will work on developing a screening tool, the Rapid Competency Screen (RCS), that attorneys can use to help identify youth whose capacity to make plea decisions may be impaired. The current grant will allow for the development of a pilot version of the tool, as well as a best practice guide for attorneys on effective communication with justice system involved youth.

According to Dr. Zottoli, “The purpose of the RCS is to give attorneys a relatively efficient way to determine whether a formal competency examination may be necessary, or how best to communicate complex information to an otherwise competent client in a developmentally appropriate manner.”

“We are very excited for this opportunity, and hope that the development of the RCS will help to improve attorney-client communication, identify deficits in understanding, and provide attorneys with a tool to assist in the remediation of client understanding of the plea process,” said Dr. Daftary-Kapur.

According to their website, The American Bar Endowment opportunity grants program “supports new, boots-on-the-ground, innovative programs and projects that serve the immediate and critical legal needs of the public and are of importance to the legal profession and its concerns for access to justice.”