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School of Law will mark 50th anniversary of landmark In re Gault Supreme Court case

The prank phone call of a 15-year-old Arizona boy led to one of the most consequential U.S. Supreme Court cases and the establishment of rights for juveniles in U.S. courts.

In re Gault, decided May 15, 1967, marked the first time the Supreme Court held that children facing delinquency prosecution have many of the same legal rights as adults in criminal court, including the right to an attorney, the right to remain silent, the right to learn the charges against them and the right to a full hearing on the merits of the case.

May 15, the Creighton University School of Law will host a 50th anniversary observance, “Fulfilling the Legacy of Gault,” with a luncheon, a panel discussion and training sessions for legal professionals defending juveniles. The day will include remarks from Hon. Vernon C.R. Daniels, judge on the Douglas County Juvenile Court and an adjunct faculty member with the School of Law. Hon. Lawrence D. Gendler, JD’78, judge on the Sarpy County Juvenile Court.

Creighton’s observance begins with an 11:30 registration period and an 11:45 welcome and blessing. The panel discussion begins at 12:30 p.m., with closing remarks at 1:30 p.m. The training session will take place from 2 to 5 p.m. All events will be in the Skutt Student Center on the Creighton campus.

The Gault case stems from an incident in which 15-year-old Gerry Gault was alleged to have made an obscene phone call to a neighbor. Without benefit of due process, Gault was arrested, charged, tried and sentenced to six years incarceration for delinquent behavior. When Gault’s parents were unable to make an appeal due to the absence of an appeals process for juvenile offenders, the Supreme Court granted certiorari to examine several issues, including whether the Arizona Juvenile Code violated the 14th Amendment’s due process clause.

In the majority opinion, Justice Abe Fortas wrote, “The condition of being a boy does not justify a kangaroo court.”

This event is sponsored by the Creighton University School of Law, the Nebraska State Bar Association Juvenile Law Section, and Nebraska Youth Advocates.

To register, click here.

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