Juvenile justice advocates are rallying against the arrest of their colleague, James Aye, in Philadelphia Family Court last month. They are urging for increased transparency within the juvenile justice system.

Aye was arrested on September 13 for refusing to leave a courtroom where a client from the youth nonprofit YEAH Philly was facing charges. Kendra Van de Water, co-founder of YEAH Philly, emphasized that the client had requested Aye’s presence, asserting a young person’s right to trusted adult support during legal proceedings, a sentiment echoed by City Councilmember Jamie Gauthier.

Gauthier described court watching as a long-established legal tool and criticized Aye’s arrest as a community disappointment.

Advocates and elected officials, including Van de Water and Gauthier, gathered in LOVE Park, across from the Family Court building, to show support for Aye.

Former juvenile court attendee Humz Johnson credited YEAH Philly with helping him exit the system successfully and highlighted the organization’s consistent advocacy during challenging court hearings.

Leem Washington shared his own success story, emphasizing how YEAH Philly’s presence and guidance empowered him to overcome challenges within the juvenile justice system.

Confidentiality rules within the juvenile court system often complicate the right to courtroom support, prompting youth advocates to demand clearer guidelines. State Rep. Rick Krajewski stressed the importance of adult support for youth in court, acknowledging the fear and isolation young individuals often experience during legal proceedings.

James Aye is scheduled for a hearing in adult court on obstruction of justice and other charges in two weeks, while the First Judicial District has declined to comment on the matter.