G.A.W. v. Illinois

NJDC and Juvenile Law Center submitted an amicus brief in support of G.A.W.’s petition for certiorari to the United States Supreme Court, arguing that juveniles facing severe consequences such as sex offender registration are entitled to a jury trial.

In this case, two juveniles were adjudicated delinquent for the same attempted robbery and criminal sexual assault. Both were tried and sentenced by a judge to 15-year indeterminate terms of imprisonment and were required to register as sex offenders for the rest of their lives. Neither was entitled to a jury trial.

Amici argued that the right to a jury trial ensures fairness and checks the power of the judiciary. The brief asked the Supreme Court to revisit its plurality opinion in McKeiver v. Pennsylvania, 403 U.S. 528 (1971), in which the Court held that juveniles had no constitutional right to a jury trial. At the time, the Court was concerned that a jury trial would make the juvenile system overly adversarial. The brief argued that in the decades since McKeiver, the juvenile justice system has become more like the criminal justice system, with more adversarial procedures and harsher sanctions, particularly in the context of sex offender registration and notification laws. In light of these changes, amici argued that juveniles should have the right to a jury trial.

Unfortunately, the Court denied certiorari in October 2012.

Amicus Brief in Support of Certiorari Petition Filed: February 06, 2012 (download .pdf)
Amicus Brief Discusses: Jury Trial; Juvenile Sex Offender Registration
Certiorari Denied
: October 1, 2012