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Kent v. United States
Transcript of Kent v. United States
SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES
383 U.S. 541
Kent v. United States
CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA CIRCUIT
No. 104 Argued: January 19, 1966 --- Decided: March 21, 1966
Petitioner was arrested at the age of 16 in connection with charges of housebreaking, robbery and rape. As a juvenile, he was subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of the District of Columbia Juvenile Court unless that court, after "full investigation," should waive jurisdiction over him and remit him for trial to the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. Petitioner's counsel filed a motion in the Juvenile Court for a hearing on the question of waiver, and for access to the Juvenile Court's Social Service file which had been accumulated on petitioner during his probation for a prior offense. The Juvenile Court did not rule on these motions. It entered an order waiving jurisdiction, with the recitation that this was done after the required "full investigation." Petitioner was indicted in the District Court. He moved to dismiss the indictment on the ground that the .Juvenile Court's waiver was invalid. The District Court overruled the motion, and petitioner was tried. He was convicted on six counts of housebreaking and robbery, but acquitted on two rape counts by reason of insanity. On appeal, petitioner raised, among other things, the validity of the Juvenile Court's waiver of jurisdiction; the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit affirmed, finding the procedure leading to waiver and the waiver order itself valid. Writ of Certiorari Majority and Minority Opinion - written by Justice Fortas
- The state is parens patriae. However, this relationship is not an “invitation for procedural arbitrariness”.
- There must always be assistance of counsel in a hearing of waiver jurisdiction.
- The plaintiff’s counsel must have access to all social records.
- If the judge determines that a waiver of transfer is required, there must be a statement of facts based on a full investigation, including a statement of the judge’s reasons for the waiver. Precedent The Kent v. United States set a precedent in which juvenile cases nationwide were required to hold a preliminary hearing to inform suspected minor offenders of what they are being charged with and the court in which a child's legal claim will be processed. It also set a precedent which helped bring a more complete due process into the juvenile court system and keep courts' actions governed by parens patriae in check. Kent v. United States (1966) Case Briefing (Continued) -The judge then ruled that Kent was sentenced to thirty to ninety
years in prison in criminal court for six counts of housebreaking
-However, the judge did not describe the investigation or the grounds
for the waiver of the juvenile court's jurisdiction
-Kent's lawyer sought to have the criminal indictment dismissed because
the waiver had been invalid due to this lack of information. He appealed
and wrote a writ of habeas corpus asking the State to justify Kent's
-Appellate courts considered the the appeal and the writ groundless, and did not bother to scrutinize the judge's investigation. The courts considered the waiver as valid.
-The case was then brought to the Supreme Court where the lawyer argued that the investigation was not thorough enough and that Kent was denied constitutional rights because he was a minor.
-The Supreme Court ruled in favor of Kent and held that the waiver was invalid. They stated that Kent was entitled to a hearing that adhered to due process laws, Kent's counsel should have had access to all records involving the waiver, and the judge should have provided a written statement detailing the reasons for waiver. Case Briefing -In 1966 Morris A. Kent, a 16-year old boy, was charged with rape and robbery under the juvenile court of the District of Columbia
-Kent's attorney anticipated that the juvenile court would waive its jurisdiction to the adult criminal court and filed a motion requesting a hearing on the issue of jurisdiction
-The judge of the juvenile court did not rule on this motion and instead entered a motion stating that the court would waive jurisdiction after launching a full investigation By Helen Li and Melody Xu Vocabulary 14th Amendment- Adopted in 1868 and primarily concerned with defining some of the rights of recently freed slaves after the Civil War, it consists of three clauses:
1. Citizenship Clause: Provides broad definition of citizenship (overrules decision made in Dred Scott v. Sandford)
2. Due Process Clause: Prohibits state and local governments from depriving people of "life, liberty, or property"
3. Equal Protection Clause: States must provide equal protection to all people within its jurisdiction Due Process- Contained in the Fifth Amendment and Fourteenth Amendment. It provides four protections: procedural due process, substantive due process, a prohibition against vague laws, and as the vehicle for the incorporation of the Bill of Rights (applies to both the federal government and the states) Jurisdiction-
Original: the ability and the right of a court to hear a case for the first time and establish the facts of the case
Appellate: the ability and the right of a court to hear appeals by parties involved in a case that has already been adjudicated once by a court of original jurisdiction Criminal Court- A court empowered to hear and decide on cases involving offenses against criminal law (a branch of law concerning crimes committed against the public authority)
Juvenile Court- A court that has special authority to try and pass judgments for crimes committed by children or adolescents who have not attained the age of maturity. Crimes committed by minors are treated differently to the same crimes committed by adults. Severe offenses, however, such as murder and gang-related acts, in 44 states of the USA, are treated the same as crimes committed by adults Waiver Hearing- When a court (for example, Family Court) decides whether to waive jurisdiction so a juvenile can be tried as an adult
Parens Patriae- Latin for “parent of the nation”. A doctrine that grants the inherent power and authority of the state to protect persons who are legally unable to act on their own behalf. In the United States, the Parens Patriae doctrine has had its greatest application in the treatment of children, mentally ill persons, and other individuals who are legally incompetent to manage their affairs. The state is the supreme guardian of all children within its jurisdiction, and state courts have the inherent power to intervene to protect the best interests of children whose welfare is jeopardized by controversies between parents, or the lack of guardianship. This inherent power is generally supplemented by legislative acts that define the scope of child protection in a state. Majority Opinion Minority Opinion - Written by Justice Stewart
- The statute that is created by the court case is only applicable to Washington D.C.
- Eventually, it was adopted by other courts The Juvenile Justice System in the 1960s Society began to question the legitimacy and purpose of the juvenile court's informality and its focus on treatment without sufficient regard for due process. Conservatives criticized the court for being incapable of dealing with delinquents while liberals urged that the court was ignoring the rights of the youths that were being tried. Finally, in 1966 the Supreme Court addressed the fundamental fairness of juvenile court process in a precedent-setting court case.