Juvenile Courts in the United States

By Herbert H. Lou | Go to book overview

Chapter V
ORGANIZATION OF THE JUVENILE COURT

1. THE JUDGE

a. Method of Selection

THE method of selection of juvenile-court judges depends upon whether the court is a separate court or a part of some other court system. The judges of the courts separately created by law are variously appointed by a juvenile-court commission, general assembly, governor, mayor or city council, or other governing body of city, or elected by popular vote. The appointment by the governor, as in Boston, Wilmington, Montgomery, Birmingham, Jersey City, Newark, and four counties in Florida, is believed to be an ideal method. When the juvenile court is a part of some other court system and the separation from the other is less complete, as in most rural counties, the judge of the county, circuit, district, or any other court, of which the juvenile court is a part, generally acts as the juvenile judge as a result of his election or appointment to that office. In certain of the states, where the juvenile court is more completely separated from the court of which it is a branch, and one or more judges give more or less full time to juvenile work, as in most large cities, the judge of the juvenile court is assigned to that work by his associate judges; in other states, the judge is elected by vote of all the judges of all the courts of record in the locality. In some places the juvenile judge is designated or appointed by another judge, usually of the superior court, who has been given power to make the selection. In North Carolina, the clerk of the superior court is the judge of the county juvenile court except in cities with a population of 10,000 or more, which maintain separate juvenile courts or, by special arrangement, joint city and county courts with the judge of the county court presiding.

In discussing the methods of selecting juvenile judges, two considerations naturally enter. Which method is likely to secure the best qualified men? Which method is more likely to banish polictics from juvenile courts? Popular election does not seem to be a satisfactory method of selection if expert knowledge and special qualifications are required of the judges. The method of assignment is more or less subject to

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