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Juvenile Justice Symposium: Fall 2016 Law Review Symposium (Sept. 29 - 30, 2016)  

Last Updated: Aug 23, 2017 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

Friday 10:30 a.m. Session Print Page

Juveniles in the Courts

John D. Elliott presented on the topic: Shorter Criminal Sentences For Youth

Mark Vargo presented on the topic: New Implementation of the Teen Court Diversion Program for Older Youth (18+)


John D. Elliott

John D. “Jay” Elliott is an attorney in Columbia, South Carolina.  He has represented children and young people in the courts of South Carolina for over 30 years.  He started out in law enforcement, and has been a student of the criminal justice system for nearly 40 years.

He has received two national awards for his legal work in the public interest – the American Bar Association Pro Bono Publico award for his work in advancing the legal rights of children, and the ABA John Minor Wisdom award for his work on death penalty appeals and other significant criminal litigation.

In private practice, he has been plaintiff’s counsel in litigation challenging conditions for children in the state’s child welfare, juvenile justice and mental health systems.  He is a former chair of the South Carolina Commission on Appellate Defense, and was a member of the state Commission on Indigent Defense, instrumental in the enactment of legislation establishing a statewide, unified public defender system for South Carolina.  He is also a member of the advisory board of the Southern Juvenile Defender Center.


Mark Vargo

Mark Vargo, Pennington County State’s Attorney (South Dakota)

Princeton University, A.B., Politics  ‘85

Georgetown University Law Center, J.D., cum laude  ‘88

Mark began his prosecutorial career working as an Assistant State Attorney for Janet Reno in Dade County, Florida, where he was the Deputy Chief of the Traffic Division, a felony prosecutor and a member of the Robbery Unit, which was formed to combat an epidemic of tourist robberies.

From there, relying upon his wife’s description of Rapid City as “the banana belt,” he moved to South Dakota, where he served as a Deputy State’s Attorney for three years, served in the Rapid City United States Attorney’s Office for 15 years, and then, in 2012, was elected as Pennington County State’s Attorney. 

In his copious free time, he has also been a professor of Rhetoric, an instructor for prosecutors around the world, including Tbilisi, Georgia, and Vladivostok, Russia.  He presided over the merger of two youth soccer organizations in Rapid City, an accomplishment he swears has prepared him if called upon to broker peace in the Middle East.  He was also the coach of the Rapid City Stevens Speech and Debate team for seven years.


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