Mini Research Paper: In Re Gault
On June 8th, 1964, Gerald Gault and Ronald Lewis were arrested after a neighbor, Mrs. Cook, called police to file a complaint against the boys for making obscene phone calls. Gault was never informed of his rights nor were his parents present at the name of his arrest and the arresting officer left no notice informing them of their son’s arrest. Gault’s hearing on June 9th, 1964 was informal and the complainant, Mrs. Cook, was not in attendance. A few days later, Gault was released and this time with his parents being notified of another hearing schedule for June 15th, 1964. At the time of Gerald Gault’s initial arrest, he was on probation for being present at another crime which involved another individual stealing a wallet for a woman’s purse.
It is important to note that during all of Gault’s proceedings, no transcripts or recordings were made. Additionally, Gault was questioned by the judge during his first hearing but never mirandized. Later, because there were no transcripts or recordings of his first hearing, conflicting stories emerged as to whether or not Gault admitted to committing the crime of making lewd phone calls. The maximum punishment for an adult committing the same crime that Gerald Gault committed was “a $50 fine and two months in jail” (United States Courts). However, Gault was found guilty and sentenced to juvenile detention for six years. The Superior Court of Arizona and the Arizona Supreme Court both dismissed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus that sought the release of Gault filed on Gault’s behalf by his parents.
The United States Supreme Court agreed to hear the case with the hopes of answering the question of whether or not juveniles have the right to due process safeguards in delinquency cases that may potentially result in incarceration. Specifically, the Supreme Court sought to decide whether or not juveniles have the right to receive notice of their charges, right to confront and cross examine witnesses, and the right to avoid self incrimination. The Supreme Court stated “adequate written notice be afforded [to] the child and his parents or guardian” (Find Law). The Court also “based its ruling on the fact that Gault was being punished rather than helped by the juvenile court” (NCJRS). The right to be represented by counsel was afforded to juveniles by Kent v. United States, so it was already clear that to some extent Gault had his rights impeded upon. The Supreme Court “noted that had Gault been 18 at the time of his arrest, he would have been afforded the procedural safeguards available to adults” (United States Courts) which was crucial because it was not just the acknowledgement in this case, but in general that the age of an individual should not determine what rights they receive. Additionally, their holding stated “that, absent a valid confession, a determination of delinquency and an order of commitment to a state institution cannot be...