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In Re Gault

In Re Gault

The Background of In Re Gault

In Re Gault was a landmark decision issued by the United States Supreme Court that ultimately established that under the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, a juvenile involved in a delinquency hearing must be afforded similar due process rights as is afforded to an adult.

Through the In Re Gault decision, the United States Supreme Court stated that an individual involved in a delinquency proceeding must be awarded the right to timely notification of charges, the right against self-incrimination, the right to confront a witness, and the right to counsel.

On June 8, 1964, the Sheriff of Gila County, Arizona took Gerald Gault, a 15-year old boy, into custody without notifying the youth’s parents. Gault was apprehended after a neighbor complained of receiving offensive prank calls. Gault’s mother eventually located the young boy, but he remained in custody. The only notification the Gaults received was a letter regarding Gault’s future court date.

The Re Gault Trial

During the initial trial, neither the accuser, nor any witnesses, were there to testify against Gault. Gault was found guilty and was confined at the State Industrial School for the period of his minority. At the time, Arizona law did not permit an appeal process for juvenile cases. In response, Gault’s parents petitioned the Arizona Supreme Court for a writ of habeas corpus in order to obtain their son’s release.

The Arizona Supreme Court affirmed the lower court’s dismissal and found that the Arizona Juvenile Code and the Gault proceedings did not specifically violate the due process clause. The case was then appealed to the United States Supreme Court where, in an 8-1 decision, the Federal court ruled that Gault’s commitment to the State Industrial School was a blatant violation of the 14th Amendment.

The Supreme Court ruled in Gault’s favor because the young man had been denied the right to an attorney, had never been formally notified of the charges against him, had not been informed of his right against self-incrimination, and did not possess the opportunity to confront his accuser. The Supreme Court, through this ruling, stated that the purpose of the juvenile court was correction and not punishment.

The Case Profile of In Re Gault

The following is a case profile of the legal trial eponymously titled ‘In Re Gault’:

Date of the Trial: In Re Gault was argued on December 16, 1966;

United States Reports Case Number: 387 U.S. 1;

Date of the Delivery of the Verdict: In Re Gault was decided on May 15, 1967;

Legal Venue of In Re Gault: The United States Supreme Court;

Judicial Officer Responsible for Ruling: Chief Justice Earl Warren;

Verdict Delivered: The United States Supreme Court in In Re Gault stated that juveniles tried for crimes in a delinquency proceeding should have the right of due process as protected by the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution, including the right to confront witnesses and the right to counsel guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment.

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