Landmark Juvenile Law Cases: Fourteenth Amendment – Parental and Children’s Rights

In Best Interest of the Child, children legal status, children's behaviour, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, Domestic Relations, family court, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fatherlessness, fathers rights, federal crimes, Freedom, judicial corruption, Liberty, motherlessness, mothers rights, National Parents Day, Non-custodial fathers, Non-custodial mothers, Parentectomy, Parents rights, state crimes on May 21, 2009 at 11:44 am

Landmark Juvenile Law Cases: Fourteenth Amendment

Goss v. Lopez, 419 U.S. 325 (1985)

The issue in this case was whether students who were suspended from high school for up to 10 days without a hearing were entitled to procedural due process pursuant to the Fourteenth Amendment. The district court found that the students were denied due process of law because they were suspended without a hearing prior to suspension or within a reasonable time after suspension and thus that the statute and regulation under which they were suspended was unconstitutional.

The U.S. Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the right to a public education was a property interest protected by the Due Process Clause and that students’ due process rights “could not be taken away for misconduct without adherence to the minimum procedures required by that Clause.” 419 U.S. at 574. The Court held that those procedures include “that the student be given oral or written notice of the charges against him and, if he denies them, an explanation of the evidence the authorities have and an opportunity to present his side of the story.” 419 U.S. at 581.

In re Gault, 387 U.S. 1 (1967)

The issue presented in this case was what procedures under the Due Process Clause must be followed in proceedings by which a determination is made about whether a juvenile is delinquent as a result of alleged misconduct. 387 U.S. at 13-14. A fifteen year old boy was arrested for making lewd telephone calls to a neighbor, while he was on probation for another offense. The parents, who were at work, were not notified that their son had been arrested, nor were they served with a petition filed by the officer that provided that the child was a “delinquent minor.” At the hearing, the complaining neighbor was not present, those testifying were not sworn in and no transcripts or recording of the proceedings were made. After the hearing, the judge said he would think about what to do and the boy was sent back to the detention for a couple of days, after which he was released and sent home. On the day the boy was sent home, the Gaults then received an unofficial note from the officer stating that the judge set a hearing about the boy’s delinquency. At this second hearing, the complaining neighbor was not present. A referral report was filed by the probation officer, but not disclosed to the boy or his parents. The judge committed the boy (who was 15) as a juvenile delinquent to an industrial school until he was 21. There was no right to appeal. The parents filed a writ and it was denied.

The U.S. Supreme Court held first that the hearing afforded in connection with juvenile court “must measure up to the essentials of due process and fair treatment,” 387 U.S. at 30, under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The Court then held: (1) that notice in this case was inadequate; (2) that notice of a hearing “must be given sufficiently in advance of scheduled court proceedings so that reasonable opportunity to prepare will be afforded,” 387 U.S. at 33; (3) that notice must provide the charges; (4) that the child has right to counsel in a delinquency proceedings and (5) that, absent a valid confession, the child may not be committed after a delinquency proceedings without sworn testimony subject to cross-examination during the proceeding.

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