The Juvenile Court Act and Juvenile Justice Procedures – Midterm Essays [NAME]
[CLASS-SECTION] – Juvenile Delinquency
There have been many significant rulings made by the Supreme Court involving juvenile rights in the juvenile court system which attempt to balance parens patriae and juvenile rights. The cases involving Morris Kent, Jr., Gerald Gault, Samuel Winshhip, and McKeiver stand out as most significant in the effort to strike this delicate balance. The 1961 Case of Morris Kent, Jr. (“Kent”) (in re Kent, 383 U.S. 541 (1966) involves juvenile rights to a full investigation before a determination of waiver of trial is made. Kent confessed to the crime of rape and robbery and the judge automatically waived his case to criminal case without investigation or verification of the facts. Kent’s lawyer argued that the waiver was invalid without a proper investigation being conducted, thus, the waiver violated Kent’s due process rights as guaranteed by the fourteenth Amendment. Upon appeal Kent lost, as the appeals court stated the ruling in juvenile court was not a violation of his juvenile rights. The Supreme Court disagreed. They overturned the ruling of the appellate court, ruling the waiver invalid, and stated that Kent was “entitled to a hearing . . . In other words, Kent or his counsel should have had access to all records involved in making the decision to waive the case, and the judge should have provided written reasons for the waiver” (Cox, Conrad & Allen, 2003, p. 10). The case of Gault v. Arizona, 387 U.S. 1, 13 , 1436 (1967), furthered the juvenile rights afforded through the Kent case by questioning parens patriae (Cox, Conrad & Allen, 2003, p. 10). “In this case, and in the Kent case, the Court raised serious questions about the concept of parens patriae or the right of the state to informally determine the best interests of juveniles” (Cox, Conrad & Allen, 2003, p. 10). Gerald Gault (“Gault”) was a 15 year old accused of making an obscene phone call to a neighbor. Aside from the fact that the neighbor never appeared in court to make any statement against Gault, and there was no other evidence indicating Gault was guilty, Gault was sentenced to juvenile detention until he reached legal maturity. During this so-called trial, Gault’s due process rights were consistently violated. He and his parents were not told what the charges were, “they were not made aware of their right to counsel, of their right to confront and cross-examine witnesses, of their right to remain silent, of their right to a transcript of the proceedings or of their right to appeal” (Cox, Conrad & Allen, 2003, p. 10). The Supreme Court found that “in hearings that may result in institutional commitment, juveniles have all of these rights (in re Gault)” (Cox, Conrad & Allen, 2003, p. 10). The juvenile courts were changing as juveniles were gaining ground, being granted more of the rights and protections that are afforded adults. The case of Samuel Winship established that the standard of proof would be the same in juvenile court as it was (is) in adult court. Samuel Winship was accused of stealing money from a woman’s pocketbook (in re Winship, 397 U.S. 358 (1970)). The state petitioned New York family court to have Winship declared a juvenile deli sent to a training school. The family court did just that. The appeals court judge acknowledged proof of Winship’s guilt might not have been establish beyond a reasonable doubt at his trial, but rejected the contention that such proof was required by the Fourteenth Amendment. The Supreme Court again disagreed. The Court “decided that in juvenile court proceedings involving delinquency, the standard of proof for conviction should be the same as that for adults in criminal court—proof beyond reasonable doubt” (Cox, Conrad & Allen, 2003, p. 10). McKeiver v. Pennsylvania, 403 U.S. 528 (1971) involved the question of whether juveniles should be extended...
References: Louisiana State University (2006). In re Winship. Paul M. Herbert Law Center. Retrieved 22 Nov 2006 from http://biotech.law.lsu.edu/cphl/articles/hastings/hastings-2_-2.htm
Siegel, L., & Welsh, B. (2005). Juvenile delinquency: the core. 2nd ed. Belmont, CA: Thomson Wadsworth.
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