Juvenile Justice Center Welcomes Rhyzan Croomes
Rhyzan Croomes ‘19 is the Supervising Staff Attorney at LMU Loyola Law School’s Juvenile Justice Clinic, where she represents L.A. County youth in criminal defense proceedings. The Juvenile Justice Clinic, part of the Center for Juvenile Law & Policy in the Loyola Social Justice Law Clinic, provides holistic, client-centered advocacy for youth involved in the juvenile justice system.
For Croomes, the new position is a homecoming of sorts. She received her J.D. from Loyola Law School with a Criminal Justice Concentration and a Public Interest Concentration. While at Loyola, she participated in the Juvenile Justice Clinic, was on the board for a non-profit organization called The Skid-Row Project, was the president of the Black Law Student Association, was the Chair for the National Lawyers Guild and was the 2019 recipient for the Dean’s Service Award as well as the Alumni Association Award.
“I developed my passion for juvenile justice as a student in the Center for Juvenile Law & Policy, where I was able to gain important knowledge on childhood development and the benefits of rehabilitation versus retribution," said Croomes. "It has been so rewarding to return to the CJLP to keep advancing its mission."
Already, Croomes has had her work cut out for her. Since starting in 2021, she has had a full court schedule representing clients. So far, her work has resulted in the complete dismissal of a case for an innocent client who was mistakenly arrested and is now able to continue their higher education; and the successful completion of the case of a client who spent nearly 1.5 years in juvenile hall fighting a transfer case to adult court. Because of her advocacy, and working with the newly elected district attorney, the client went from facing life in prison if transferred to adult court to admitting to a non-serious felony and receiving a disposition of home on probation. He is now ready to complete probation and will be eligible for AB12 (extended foster care benefits) until age 21, which will help him secure housing and other supportive services.
Croomes brings back to the CJLP significant real-world experience as a commited defender. She worked at Los Angeles Dependency Lawyers as a dependency attorney, helping adults navigate the system and fight to get their children back from DCFS custody. She then continued her career in private practice, focusing on defense of both adults and youth. In addition to her experience as a defender, she is also a board member for the Center for the Empowerment of Families, a non-profit organization that focuses on providing mental health services for indigent youth.
Croomes was selected as a 2021 – 2022 Ambassador for Racial Justice as part of a joint program with Georgetown Law and the National Juvenile Defender Center. At CJLP, Croomes works with professors, experts, and attorneys in the first-of-its-kind independent Forensic Gang College that prepares individuals who have personal gang knowledge, to provide court testimony explaining what drives young men and women to join gangs.
“I look forward to continuing the fight against oppressive systems and being present on the day when there is widespread understanding that children deserve to live their lives as children, regardless of their race or socio-economic background,” said Croomes.