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Paper Topic:

In re Gault supreme court case






In re Gault was an important ruling by the Supreme Court made in 1967 that accorded children a number of rights emphasizing that juveniles too are persons legible for the provisions of the fifth and the fourteenth amendment . In the landmark ruling , one of the most important rights given to the juveniles is the right to attorney as stipulated in the US Bill of Rights

The case involved Gerald Gault , who by then was age 15 years

old . He had been arrested and charged in court for making an indecent call to his neighbor . The court reached a verdict noting that his actions were tantamount to disruption of peace . Gerald Gault was committed to the Arizona State Industrial School up to the time he would reach the majority age of 21 years . In the time of trial , Gault never met the accuser and did not hear any of the testimony against him as no witnesses were was sworn . The accuser too did not appear in court

Compared to today , but as stipulated by the law then , Gault 's case had a number of inconsistencies . By then , juveniles were not allowed access to the same procedural protections offered by the courts to the adults . It is to be noted though that this was in line with the practices of the juvenile justice system which was committed to reforming juveniles as opposed to punishing them . By then , it was believed that should the court apply the procedure and constitutional rights accorded to the adults , it would fail in its reformative role . The Supreme Court ruling changed all this

The United States Supreme Court examined the case and pointed out a few inconsistencies noting that the juvenile court must adhere to standard procedures extending a number of rights to the juveniles as is provided by the constitution . The Supreme Court noted that delinquents must be accorded rights such as reasonable notification of the charges against them , a right against self incrimination as stipulated in the Fifth Amendment , the right to cross examine witnesses giving evidence against them ' and most importantly a right to an attorney (Donald J et al , 2005

In this ruling the Court banished what had been set as a precedence for the last past century , a practice that had little regard for juvenile rights in criminal proceedings

The right to an attorney in criminal proceedings is a fundamental right as stipulated in the US bill of rights . It is a precedent that has been set since the 19th century and affirmed by the United States Supreme Court in the 1963 Gideon v Wainright landmark ruling . It is such an important right that some courts such as the New Jersey Supreme Court saw it fit to offer the right to attorney whenever the rights of a defendant are under threat , even in civil proceedings

Juvenile delinquents ' right to an attorney was a water shed decision as far as the children...

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