Why (Jury-Less) Juvenile Courts are Unconstitutional

47 Pages Posted: 23 Feb 2020

See all articles by Suja A. Thomas

Suja A. Thomas

University of Illinois College of Law

Collin Stich

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Date Written: January 27, 2019

Abstract

Juveniles should hold the right to a jury trial under the U.S. Constitution, but they do not. In most states, when a trial occurs, a single judge determines whether a youth loses their liberty, and that imprisonment can last for years. The United States Supreme Court has decided that the Sixth Amendment right to a jury is irrelevant; prosecution in juvenile court is not a criminal prosecution within the meaning of the Sixth Amendment because the purpose of the juvenile courts is a good one — to rehabilitate youth. The Court has also held that the right to a jury trial is not required under the due process clause because juries are not essential to factfinding. By exploring the unexamined meaning of criminal prosecution in the Sixth Amendment, rejecting the Supreme Court’s use of the state’s good purpose, and probing the neglected historical right to a jury trial for juveniles, this Article challenges the common assumption that juveniles do not hold the right to a jury trial.

Keywords: jury, juvenile, jury trial, Sixth Amendment, judge

Suggested Citation

Thomas, Suja A. and Stich, Collin, Why (Jury-Less) Juvenile Courts are Unconstitutional (January 27, 2019). Emory Law Journal, Vol. 69, No. 2, 2019, University of Illinois College of Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 20-16, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3526239

Suja A. Thomas (Contact Author)

University of Illinois College of Law ( email )

504 E. Pennsylvania Avenue
Champaign, IL 61820
United States

Collin Stich

affiliation not provided to SSRN

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