OJA Names Juvenile Justice Advocate as General Counsel
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Office of Juvenile Affairs (OJA) interim Executive Director Rachel Holt today announced she has hired Benjamin C. Brown as the agency’s general counsel.
Brown, of Warr Acres, has been a practicing attorney for nearly 30 years. He has served as public defender for both Oklahoma County and the Oklahoma Indigent Defense System (OIDS). He has spent most of his time during his career as a trial lawyer representing adults and children and advocating for change for those involved in the adult and juvenile justice system in Oklahoma.
Brown began his new duties Monday, June 29.
Holt, who was named OJA’s interim executive director in March, has been serving as the agency’s senior general counsel since December 2017. Before that, she was an assistant attorney general assigned as OJA’s general counsel and prior to that she served as OJA’s deputy general counsel.
“Ben is the juvenile law expert and child advocate that OJA needs in this position at this time,” Holt said. “He is very knowledgeable in juvenile law, having taught classes to attorneys and judges and worked on statutory improvements to the state’s juvenile code. He’s also very familiar with our agency, having worked with OJA case workers and having served on OJA’s governing board.”
In 1998, when Oklahoma adopted the Youthful Act, Brown began representing children who were charged with crimes under those statutes.
“Representing these children was my introduction to the juvenile justice system and OJA,” Brown said. “Over the next 10 years I worked with these clients and with the OJA staff litigating whether these clients would be sentenced as juveniles or youthful offenders and placed in the custody of OJA or whether they would be sentenced as adults and supervised by the Department of Corrections. As a result of representing these clients, I became involved as an advocate for legislative change and improvement for juveniles and OJA.”
Brown in 2008 transferred from the adult division of the Oklahoma County public defender’s office to the juvenile division. During the next seven years, he represented children and adults involved with OJA and the Department of Human Services. He also was appointed to task forces and legislative committees assigned with making recommendations for statutory improvements to the state’s juvenile code. In 2012, he was appointed to OJA’s governing board by then-Gov. Mary Fallin.
In 2015, Brown went to work for OIDS primarily representing adults charged in capital murder cases, but he also continued to represent juveniles charged with murder, served as a resource counsel to judges and other attorneys representing juveniles, monitored legislation, and served on committees dealing with juvenile justice issues.
“I have a passion to see that children are treated fairly, that society is protected, and that the juvenile justice system is able to complete its mission of becoming involved in the community and the lives of families and children to attempt to prevent them from becoming involved in the juvenile justice system,” Brown said. “For those children and families who do become involved in the juvenile justice system, they must be treated individually and fairly, and the juvenile must be provided the opportunity to receive proper treatment, education and rehabilitation which is evidence-based, effective and proactive.”
Brown earned bachelor’s degrees in political science and sociology from the University of New Mexico and his law degree from Oklahoma City University School of Law.