Gingerich v. Indiana

In November 2011, NJDC, the Children’s Law Center and the Campaign for Youth Justice joined as amici in a brief to the Indiana Court of Appeals, urging it to consider the due process protections that must be afforded a youth in any decision to waive the youth to adult court—namely, that due process in waiver proceedings requires a youth to have sufficient time to conduct an investigation that examines the youth’s development and to have a full hearing based upon a substantive consideration of whether it is in the child and community’s best interest to retain the youth in juvenile court.

Amici asked the court to consider the Supreme Court of the United States’s jurisprudence on adolescent development, as applied in recent decisions in J.D.B. v. North Carolina, Graham v. Florida and Roper v. Simmons, to any decision to waive a youth to adult court. Amici presented a review of case law and national standards that demonstrate that waiver proceedings must comport with due process.

On December 11, 2012, the Court of Appeals of Indiana reversed and remanded to the lower court the conviction of Paul Gingerich, who was waived to adult court at age 12. The Court held the juvenile court abused its discretion by denying a continuance of the waiver hearing, scheduled for four business days after counsel was appointed. The Court emphasized that juvenile waiver hearings are not “perfunctory proceedings” and that due process requires that child defendants at waiver proceedings be afforded sufficient time to prepare a defense addressing both evidence of criminality as well as, whether waiver would be in the best interests of the child and the safety and welfare of the community. The Court noted that the lack of time to prepare for the hearing, including the failure to investigate Paul’s competence to stand trial and the ability to refute faulty testimony regarding the availability of placements in the juvenile system, prejudiced Paul. Additionally, the Court determined that Paul did not waive his right to appeal by entering a plea in the adult court because the adult court did not have proper jurisdiction due to the defective transfer.

Court: Indiana Court of Appeals
November 10, 2011 (download .pdf)
Amicus Brief Discusses: Adolescent Development; Transfer

Oral Argument: October 30, 2012 (watch here)
December 11, 2012 (download .pdf)