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“A Parens Patriae Figure or Impartial Fact Finder: Policy Questions and Conflicts for the Juvenile Court Judge”

Sanborn, Joseph B. Jr.
June 4, 2015

Source: (2001) Criminal Justice Policy Review. 12(4):311-332.

For several decades, juvenile courts functioned like clinics. Judges assigned there
were instructed to assume a variety of roles: jurist, psychologist, counselor, sociologist,
and parent. The In re Gault decision in 1967 granted juvenile defendants several
constitutional rights that transformed juvenile courts into criminal court–like operations. Juvenile court judges have not been told whether they should continue to be
paternal or emulate their counterparts in adult court; research has not addressed this subject. In this study, 100 juvenile court workers (judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, probation officers) from three juvenile courts (urban, suburban, rural) were interviewed to ascertain how judges operate in juvenile court and what these workers
perceive to be the proper role for the judge. The data show that most workers believe that the role of the juvenile court judge is and should be unique. (author’s abstract)


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