Free Judicial History Essay Sample
IN RE GAULT CASE BRIEF
In Re Gault 387 U.S. 1 (1967)
The case was first tried under the Arizona Juvenile Code by a juvenile judge who ordered the appellant’s 15-year old son committed to a juvenile detention home until he turns 21 for making lewd calls. The appellants applied for a writ of habeas corpus in the Superior Court, which dismissed it. The Arizona State Court affirmed the dismissal on the grounds that the Arizona Juvenile Code was presumed to have already incorporated due process requirements.
Gerald Gault was 15 years old when he and his friend were picked up by the police after a neighbor reported receiving lewd calls from the Gault residence. No notice was left for his parents who were at work or any effort to inform them of their son’s detention was made. Neither did they receive a copy of the petition. During the hearing the following day and on a subsequent hearing, the complainant did not show up and the procedure during those hearings did not include recording of transcripts and swearing of witnesses. On the second hearing, the charge was listed as lewd phone calls in the report of the probation officers, but the appellants did not receive a copy of the report. The judge ordered Gault to be placed in a detention home until he reaches the age of 21.
Whether or not the proceeding before the juvenile judge under the Arizona Juvenile Code should abide by the due process rights that are afforded to adults?
Under the 14th Amendment, states are proscribed from passing laws that reduce the fundamental rights and liberties of citizens. The relevant part of the provision states “No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws” (s 1, 14th Amendment).
Analysis and Reasoning
The Court held that the rights enshrined under the 14th Amendment and the Bill or rights apply equally to both adults and children. The due process clause, therefore, must apply in proceedings determining whether a juvenile is delinquent with a possible sentence of commitment to a state institution. The Court held that being a minor “does not justify a kangaroo court.” The objective of establishing juvenile courts, according to the Court, is to protect and benefit children by shielding them from the rigid technicality and unnecessary publicity in the adult trial system. However, in the Gault case, the absence of due process had disadvantaged him because it resulted in his commitment for 6 six years, far worse than the 2 months and $50 fine he would have gotten had he been tried as an adult under §13-377 of the Arizona Criminal Code. That section punishes any person who uses vulgar, abusive or obscene language in the presence of a woman or child, the same charge leveled against Gault. Citing Kent v United States, 3 83 U.S. 541, 562 (1966), the Court reiterated that waiver by a juvenile court to adult court jurisdiction must “measure up to the essentials of due process and fair treatment.”
The Court held that the proceedings before the juvenile judge violated the due process clause of the 14th Amendment. Considering that Gault’s liberty was at stake in the event of a finding of delinquency, the judge should have followed certain procedural safeguards. The Court, thus, reversed the Arizona State Court and remanded the case for further proceedings.
In Re Gault 387 U.S. 1 (1967)