Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Psychology & Higher Education

First Committee Member

Rebecca Nathanson

Second Committee Member

E. Michael Nussbaum

Third Committee Member

LeAnn Putney

Fourth Committee Member

David Tanenhaus

Number of Pages



Current law requires that juveniles be competent to stand trial prior to their involvement as defendants in court. According to Dusky v. US, a defendant must have a rational and factual understanding of the court proceedings to be deemed competent to stand trial. Past studies call into question whether juveniles at any age could meet the understanding element of the standard articulated in Dusky v. US (1960). Additionally, youth with disabilities have less knowledge than their typical peers. Besides a lack of legal knowledge, court related anxiety has also been found to have a significant effect on youths going to court. Currently there is no teaching intervention intended for use with youth and with youth with disabilities that influenced juveniles' legal knowledge enough to be used to investigate their competency ability, their developmental capacity to understand the legal system, and whether their court related anxiety level might be mitigated by knowledge of the legal process.

The purpose of this study is to evaluate the Juvenile Competency Court School curriculum, a teaching intervention intended for youths involved in juvenile justice proceedings. The study investigates whether the JCCS curriculum significantly increases youth' legal knowledge, competency to stand trial ability, and court related anxiety. Results from this study indicate that the JCCS curriculum significantly increased youths' legal knowledge and imply that the use of the JCCS curriculum may be beneficial for youths ages 11-17.


Anxiety; Anxiety in youth; Competency to stand trial; Courts – Study and teaching (Secondary); Disability; Juvenile Competency to Stand Trial; Law – Study and teaching (Secondary); Legal Knowledge; Youths; Youth with disabilities


Courts | Educational Psychology | Law | Special Education and Teaching

File Format


Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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