Welch v. United States
NJDC signed on to an amicus brief filed by the Center on Wrongful Convictions of Youth at Northwestern University School of Law, the Juvenile Law Center, and 24 additional signatories, asking the United States Supreme Court to prohibit the use of juvenile adjudications to enhance subsequent adult criminal sentences under Apprendi v. New Jersey.
In this case, amici supported Devin Welch’s challenge to the imposition of a 180 month sentence for firearm possession in the adult system, imposed because he had a prior juvenile adjudication. Amici argued that juvenile adjudications should not be used to enhance adult criminal sentences for two main reasons. First, adjudications obtained in the juvenile court system lack the reliability of convictions in criminal court related to several factors such as the absence of jury trials, a juvenile court culture that sometimes precludes zealous and adversarial advocacy, and a heightened possibility that evidence introduced in juvenile court such as confessions would be unreliable. Second, there is a longstanding recognition of the differences between adults and juveniles. As such, the brief argued, it would be fundamentally unfair to allow the use of juvenile convictions to enhance adult sentences.
Unfortunately, the Court denied certiorari on June 20, 2011.
Amicus Brief in Support of Certiorari Petition Filed: October 4, 2010 (download .pdf)
Certiorari Denied: June 20, 2011
Amicus Brief Discusses: Apprendi; Enhanced Sentencing; Jury Trial