Experienced lawyers thought Christene Wood was out of her mind when she mounted an appellate challenge to a juvenile certification decision—a process that allows children as young as 14 to be tried as adults for felony offenses.

While Texas juvenile law is aimed at rehabilitating children, trial court judges usually approve prosecutors’ requests to try juveniles as adults for serious crimes, lawyers told Wood. And while certifying juveniles to stand trial as an adult is supposed to be the “exception” under Texas law, a certification ruling hadn’t been overturned by an appellate court in decades, they added.

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