Lesson Plan One-The Rights of Juveniles A study of
In Re Gault
Students will understand the significance of the Gault case, which changed the way the courts must treat juveniles.
Teachers will need to present to students the summary of the case that is offered in this lesson and then split the class into groups for discussion. Once the questions are addressed, the group should select a leader who will present the group’s findings back to the class.
Summary of the Case
In June of 1964, in Gila County, Arizona a complaint was filed by a Mrs. Cook to the local sheriff stating that she had received an obscene phone call. Although the call was traced to the Gault home there was no proof as to exactly who had made the call or spoken the obscene words. The local sheriff went to the Gault house and arrested Gerald Gault, age 15 and his friend Ronald Lewis, also age 15. Both boys were brought to the juvenile detention home in Globe to await a hearing from a juvenile officer. Gerald had been in trouble before and was already on probation in the state of Arizona. When the sheriff took Gerald into custody his parents were not at home In fact, his father worked several hundred miles away and his mother was at work. Not even a note was left by the sheriff to inform the Gault’s of their son’s whereabouts. When Marjorie Gault returned home from work she found out that her son was being held at the juvenile detention center. That night she went to the center to speak to her son and also the center’s superintendent, Charles Flagg. Mr. Flagg told Mrs.Gault that Gerald would have a hearing the next day. That night a probation officer questioned Gerald about the phone call. He also questioned Ronnie Lewis to see if boy’s stories matched. Though he had no proof that Gerald had made the call, Mr. Flagg filed a petition with the juvenile court describing Gerald as a delinquent minor and asked the court for a hearing as well as an order regarding his care and custody. Since no record of the hearing was kept, no one knows exactly what was said. According to later testimony, the judge asked some questions about the phone call.
A few days later Gerald was released from the detention center. Mrs.Gault received a note saying that a second hearing would be held in six days. At the second hearing Mr. and Mrs.Gault admitted that their son had dialed the woman’s number, however, they believed that Ronald Lewis had done the talking. They asked that the woman who had made the complaint to come in and identify which boy’s voice she had heard on the phone. Their request was denied. In fact, the judge never talked to Mrs. Cook to check the details of the case. On the basis of these two hearings the judge found Gerald to be delinquent. According to an Arizona state law “people were not allowed to use vulgar, abusive or obscene language in the hearing of a woman or a child.” Supposedly, Gerald confessed at his hearing, but he had no legal representation. He was sentenced to six years of confinement at the Fort Grant Industrial School. If he were in an adult court he would probably receive two months in jail and a fifty-dollar fine. When Gerald was at the Industrial School his parents appealed his conviction to the Arizona Supreme Court. They said the state had taken away their son’s right to due process and violated the limits of the Fourteenth Amendment amendment. Furthermore, they said that Gerald should be entitled to the same rights at his hearing that an adult had at a trial The Arizona State Supreme Court upheld the juvenile court judge’s ruling. The Gault’s then appealed their case to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The Court decided that juveniles accused of wrongdoing should have many of the same protections that are required in an adult trial under the Bill of Rights. The Court believed that neither the Fourteenth Amendment nor the Bill of Rights is for adults alone. Furthermore, “the condition of being a boy does not justify a kangaroo court.” Justice Abe Fortas wrote the detailed and strongly worded opinion for the Court. Chief Justice Warren complimented Fortas on his opinion by calling it the Magna Carta for Juveniles. Joining Justice Fortas in the opinion were Chief Justice Warren and Justices Brennan, Clark and Douglas. Justices Black and White concurred with the majority decision. Justice Harlan wrote a separate opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part. Justice Black stated, “he agreed with the majority, but felt that the ruling “strikes a fatal blow to much of what is unique about the juvenile court system…” Justice Stewart dissented from the majority. In his dissent he acknowledged that “…the justice system has not been perfect, but he said, juvenile proceedings are not criminal trials. He felt the Court was taking a step backwards into the nineteenth century when children were tried as adults...” (Billitteri 88)
As a result of the Gault case the following elements of due process must be guaranteed to juveniles The Court decided that juveniles should have the same rights as adults at the time of the trial. Gerald and his parents should have been notified of the hearing before it occurred so that they could have prepared a defense. Gerald should have been told that he had the right to a lawyer and should have been provided with free counsel if necessary. Gerald should have been told that he had the right to remain silent and not testify against himself. Gerald should have the right to confront the witness against him and to cross-examine the witness. Finally, the Supreme Court said that the state of Arizona did not give Gerald these rights and he should be given a new hearing.
At this time teachers might want to present a recent case in which the Court refused to require special treatment for young people under questioning by the police. In a very close vote (5 to 4) the Supreme Court clashed over whether the police must take special care when questioning young people about crimes. The case
Yarborough v. Alvarado, 2004
involved statements made by 17 year old Michael Alvaredo while he was being questioned by the police, but not under arrest. In this case no warnings were given to the youth when his parents brought him to a California police station for questioning. His parents were told to wait outside the interrogation room while the police questioned him. He was later convicted of second-degree murder and incriminating statements obtained during that interrogation were used at the trial. Alvarado did not receive Miranda warnings prior to the interrogation in question. The California trial court rejected the defense motion to suppress his incriminating statements. It concluded that he was not in custody during the interrogation and therefore, was not entitled to warnings. Teachers might assign students to research the various decisions in this very close vote. Students report back on the majority decision written by Justice Kennedy. as well as the concurring opinion written by Justice O’Connor and the dissenting opinion written by Justice Stephen Breyer.
Questions for Discussion
Once students have had the time to read and discuss the facts and the decision they should be divided into groups of four. Ask them to address the following questions in their group. They should select a group leader who will present their answers back to the entire class.
1. Should juveniles and adults have the same rights as guaranteed by the United States Constitution?2. What rights would Gerald have had if his case were being heard in an adult court?
3. What do you think is the goal of a juvenile court? What is the goal of an adult court?
4. Do you think juvenile courts are too soft on the youth of today?
5. What consequences do you think Gerald Gault should have faced for his actions?
6. Discuss the discrepancy between the juvenile punishment and the adult punishment for the same crime.
7. What do you think Warren meant when he stated that the written opinion of Justice Fortas would be known as the Magna Carta for juveniles?
8. What arguments do you think were presented by the lawyers representing the state of Arizona at the U.S. Supreme Court hearing?
9. What do you think Justice Fortas meant when he referred to the “never, never land of juvenile justice?” Where did this phrase originate?
10. For more than a century the juvenile court system has operated separately from the adult criminal courts. Juvenile courts were designed to provide flexibility to young people in trouble. The philosophy behind juvenile justice has always been to rehabilitate young offenders rather than punish them. But the trade-off means that juveniles have fewer due process rights than adults. Do you think this is fair?
Lesson Plan Two TimeLine of Significant Events, People & Laws
Students will be able to identify the events, people in chronological order and understand the impact they might have had on the time.
Teachers will need to label 5x7 index cards with the items listed below. Divide the class into groups and distribute one index card with a person or event written on the card to each student in the group. Time will be allotted for research in the library. Students will research their topic and be able to discuss the topic itself and the impact it had, not only with their group, but also with the rest of the class. Finally, each member of the group will place their event on a time line that will then be placed around the room. Teachers may have the students use a long roll of white paper or individual poster size boards that can be tacked up next to one another on a large bulletin board.
September Chief Justice Fred Vinson dies of a heart attack
October President Eisenhower nominates Earl Warren as Chief Justice
Brown v. Board of Education
May Brown v. Board of Education II
December Montgomery Bus Boycott
February Authorine Lucy turned away from the University of AlabamaMarch Southern Manifesto against desegregation
September Civil Rights Act passed; first since Reconstruction
September Arkansas National Guard blocks the entrance to Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas
NAACP v. Alabama
Cooper v. Aaron
September Price Edward County, Virginia closes Schools
February Sit-in, Greensboro, North Carolina
November John Kennedy elected President of the U.S.
May Freedom Rides begin
Mapp v. Ohio
Baker v. Carr
Engel v. Vitale
Gideon v. Wainwright
Douglas v. California
June Medgar Evers assassinated in Mississippi
School District v. Schempp
August March on Washington
September Church bombing kills four girls in Birmingham, Alabama
November President Kennedy assassinated, Lyndon Johnson becomes president
New York Times v. Sullivan
June Freedom Summer begins
Reynolds v. Sims
Escobedo v. Illinois
June 1964 Civil Rights law
November Lyndon Johnson elected president
Cox v. Louisiana
February Malcolm X assassinated
Griswold v. Connecticut
August Voting Rights Act
Miranda v. Arizona
May “Long Hot Summer” of urban rioting begins
Loving v. Virginia
July Rioting in Newark and Detroit
April Martin Luther King assassinated
v. New York
Terry v. Ohio
June Earl Warren announces retirement
November Richard Nixon elected president
Tinker v Des Moines
Powell v. McCormack
Chimmel v. California
June Warren Burger replaces Chief Justice Warren
3x5 index cards, construction paper
Lesson Plan Three Glossary of Terms
Students must know and understand the meanings of those terms associated with legal situations and the Warren Court.
Instruct the students to divide their paper in quarters and then cut them evenly. On the front side of the paper they will be writing the terms the teacher has written on the board. On the backside they are to write the correct definition or description of the term as provided by the teacher. They now have created a flash card. Students should study these terms at home and the next day the teacher should reinforce the meanings and concepts of these terms by playing jeopardy with the class. The teacher will provide the meaning and the students will provide the correct term in the form of a question. Teachers might divide the class into five or six teams. The winning team might be rewarded with extra credit points on the test for this unit.
Terms to know
1. affirm An appellate court ruling that upholds the judgment of a lower court, in effect stating the decision of the lower court is correct.
2. appeal A process by which a final judgment of a lower court is revised by a higher court.
3. appellate jurisdiction Authority of a superior court to review decisions of inferior courts.
4. brief A document containing arguments on a matter under consideration by a court 5.certiorari Latin word meaning to be informed of, to be made certain in regard to. A writ or order to a court whose decision is being challenged on appeal to send the records of the case to enable a higher court to review the case.
6. Civil Rights Acts of government designed to further the achievement of political or social equality as well as protect persons against arbitrary and discriminatory treaty from the government.
7. concurring opinion An opinion by a judge that agrees with the decision of the majority, but disagrees with the majority’s rationale. A judge who presents a concurring opinion has arrived at the same conclusion but for different reasons.
8. conference The regular meeting in which the Supreme Court justices conduct all business associated with deciding cases, including determining which cases will be
reviewed, discussing the merits of cases after oral arguments and voting on which party in a case will prevail. Conferences are closed to all but the justices.
9. dissenting opinion The opinion of a judge who disagrees with the result reached by the majority.
10. due process The concept that the Constitution’s due process clauses require the government to follow fair procedures when interfering with a person’s life, liberty, or property.
11. judgment of the court The final conclusion reached by a court
12. judicial activism An interventionist approach or role orientation for appellate decision-making. Judicial activism is seen by critics as legislating by justices to achieve outcome in line with their own social priorities.
13. judicial review The power of the court to examine the actions of the legislative and executive branches with the possibility that these actions could be declared unconstitutional.
14. judicial self-restraint A role view that minimizes the extent to which judges apply their personal views to the legal judgments they render. Courts should defer to the policy judgments made by the elected branches of government.
15. living Constitution The belief that the Constitution was intended to endure for the ages and thus can be adapted by courts to changing social and economic conditions.
16. opinion of the court The statement of the court that expresses the reasoning upon which a decision is based. The opinion summarizes the principles that apply in a given case and represents the opinion of the majority of court members.
17. oral arguments The arguments presented by counsel before the Court, usually limited to thirty minutes a side before the Supreme Court.
18. plurality An opinion announcing a court’s judgment and supporting reasoning in a case, but is not supported by a majority of the justices hearing the case. Such an opinion arises when a majority of justices support the court’s ruling in a case, but do not support the majority’s reasoning behind it.
19. precedent The theory that decisions reached in earlier cases with similar fact patterns should determine the judgment in subsequent case.
20. reversal An action by an appellate court setting aside or changing a decision of a lower court