This year marks the 50th anniversary of the In re Gault Supreme Court decision. Professor Ellen Marrus is the director of The Center for Children, Law & Policy at the University of Houston Law Center and explains why Gault was such a landmark ruling.
“The ruling was so important because it provided children facing delinquency charges the same due process rights as adults,” she said. “Including notice of offense, right to confront witnesses, privilege against self-incrimination and most importantly the right to counsel.”
Professor Marrus said this changed the way an attorney approaches a juvenile case. “When representing a child in the system, it’s important that the attorney presents the child’s expressed interests, ensure they know and understand their rights, and makes certain that these due process rights are protected,” she said. “It means more than having counsel there; the child should know that someone is standing in his or her corner.”