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TERRY APPEAL. MCKEIVER APPEAL (05/04/70)

decided: May 4, 1970.

TERRY APPEAL. MCKEIVER APPEAL


Appeals from orders of Superior Court, Nos. 717 and 666, Oct. T., 1969, affirming orders of Court of Common Pleas, Family Division, of Philadelphia, Nos. 140349 and 102024, in the matters of Joseph McKeiver, a minor, and Edward Terry, a minor.

COUNSEL

Irene H. Cotton, with her Charles H. Baron and Harvey N. Schmidt, for appellant.

Daniel E. Farmer, with him Charles H. Baron and Harvey N. Schmidt, for appellant.

Arlen Specter, District Attorney, with him James D. Crawford, Deputy District Attorney, and Richard A. Sprague, First Assistant District Attorney, for Commonwealth, appellee.

Bell, C. J., Jones, Cohen, Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts and Pomeroy, JJ. Opinion by Mr. Justice Roberts. Dissenting Opinion by Mr. Justice Cohen.

Author: Roberts

[ 438 Pa. Page 341]

Joseph McKeiver*fn1 and Edward Terry*fn2 are juvenile delinquents, having acquired that status upon findings

[ 438 Pa. Page 342]

    by the Juvenile Court of Philadelphia that each had violated a law of the Commonwealth.*fn3 The Superior Court affirmed the adjudications per curiam and we granted allocatur. Their consolidated appeals raise a single question: whether there is a constitutional right to a jury trial in juvenile court.

Appellants argue that the Constitution of the United States, especially as interperted by In re Gault, 387 U.S. 1, 87 S. Ct. 1428 (1967) and Duncan v. Louisiana,

[ 438 Pa. Page 343391]

U.S. 145, 88 S. Ct. 1444 (1968), gives them the right to insist on a jury trial. We cannot agree.

For over sixty-five years the Supreme Court gave no consideration at all to the constitutional problems involved in the juvenile court area.*fn4 Then came the landmark decision in In re Gault.*fn5 The decision is somewhat of a paradox, being both broad and narrow at the same time. It is broad in that it evidences a fundamental and far-reaching disillusionment with the anticipated benefits of the juvenile court system: "[T]he highest motives and most enlightened impulses led to a peculiar system for juveniles, unknown to our law in any comparable context. The constitutional and theoretical basis for this peculiar system is -- to say the least -- debatable. And in practice, as we remarked in the Kent case, supra, the results have not been entirely satisfactory. Juvenile Court history has again demonstrated that unbridled discretion, however benevolently motivated, is frequently a poor substitute for principle and procedure. . . . The absence of substantive standards has not necessarily meant that children receive careful, compassionate, individualized treatment. The absence of procedural rules based upon constitutional principle has not always produced fair, efficient, and effective procedures. Departures from established principles of due process have frequently resulted

[ 438 Pa. Page 344]

    not in enlightened procedure, but in arbitrariness."*fn6

Continuing to paint with a broad brush, the Court announced its intention to require that the juvenile courts function with "the procedural regularity and the exercise of care implied in the phrase 'due process.'"*fn7 At this point, however, the Court narrowed the focus of its decision and quoted from its earlier holding in Kent, saying: "'We do not mean . . . to indicate that the hearing to be held must conform with all of the requirements of a criminal trial or even of the usual administrative hearing; but we do hold that the hearing must measure up to the essentials of due process and fair treatment.' We reiterate this view, here in conjunction with a juvenile court adjudication of 'delinquency' as a requirement which is part of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of our Constitution."*fn8

The Court then specifically enumerated four due process rights which it held applicable in juvenile proceedings: (1) the right to adequate and timely notice of the charges; (2) the right to counsel; (3) the right to confrontation and cross-examination; and (4) the privilege against ...


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