Gerald Gault and a friend allegedly made an obscene phone call to a neighbor. On June 8, 1964, both boys were taken into custody. After a hearing Gerald was committed to the State Industrial School until he was 21. His parents sought his release. A lower court dismissed their petition for a writ of habeas corpus and the Supreme Court of Arizona affirmed the lower court’s decision. The Gaults appealed to the Supreme Court where they argued that the Juvenile Code of Arizona was unconstitutional, because it permitted the state to detain and commit a juvenile to a state institution without providing procedural due process (i.e. notice of any and all formal charges, the right to counsel, the right to confront one’s accuser, etc).
On May 15, 1967, the Supreme Court reversed the lower court’s decision. Justice Fortas, who delivered the opinion for the court, explained– “Under our Constitution, the condition of being a boy does not justify a kangaroo court. The traditional ideas of Juvenile Court procedure, indeed, contemplated that time would be available and care would be used to establish precisely what the juvenile did and why he did it — was it a prank of adolescence or a brutal act threatening serious consequences to himself or society unless corrected?” Watch this excellent video that further explains this case at https://goo.gl/14JN0d.