In Re Gault: Do Minors Have the Same Rights as Adults?

In Re Gault: Do Minors Have the Same Rights as Adults?

In Re Gault: Do Minors Have the Same Rights as Adults?

In Re Gault: Do Minors Have the Same Rights as Adults?

Synopsis

The impact and ramifications of cases argued before the Supreme Court are felt for decades, if not centuries. Only the most important issues of the day and the land make it to the nine justices, and the effects of their decisions reach far beyond the litigants. Under discussion here are five of the most momentous Supreme Court cases ever. They include Marbury v. Madison, Roe v. Wade, Dred Scott, Brown v. Board of Education, and The Pentagon Papers. An absorbing exploration of enormously controversial events, the series details, highlights, and clarifies the complex legal arguments of both sides. Placing the cases within their historical context (though they ultimately emerge as works in progress), the authors reveal each decision's relevance both to the past and the present. the result is a fascinating glimpse across the centuries into the workings of the Supreme Court and the American judicial system.

Excerpt

WHen a neIGHBor accused fifteen-year-old Gerald Gault of making obscene phone calls, the Arizona youth never dreamed the charge would lead to a six-year sentence in a juvenile detention center. The punishment for an adult convicted of making the same calls would have been a $50 fine or, at the most, two months in jail. But because Gerald was a minor—not yet eighteen years old— the laws of the time required that his case be handled in juvenile court, where a judge had the authority to decide his fate. No lawyer represented Gerald at the hearing on the charges against him. The neighbor never appeared in court and never testified against him. The proceedings were not recorded and were closed to the press. After a brief hearing, the judge in Gerald’s case found Gerald guilty of “immoral” behavior and ruled that he would have to stay in a detention center until he turned twenty-one.

The sentence was so outrageous that Gerald’s parents, with help from a local attorney, appealed the case to supe rior court. The case eventually made its way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

On May 15, 1967, the Court ruled for the first time that the Constitution protected the rights of children involved in the criminal justice system. The ruling guaranteed . . .

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