In re Gault

LOCATION: Gila County Youth Detention Center

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1965-1967)

CITATION: 387 US 1 (1967)
ARGUED: Dec 06, 1966
DECIDED: May 15, 1967

Facts of the case

Gerald Francis Gault, fifteen years old, was taken into custody for allegedly making an obscene phone call. Gault had previously been placed on probation. The police did not leave notice with Gault's parents, who were at work, when the youth was arrested. After proceedings before a juvenile court judge, Gault was committed to the State Industrial School until he reached the age of 21.


Were the procedures used to commit Gault constitutionally legitimate under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment?

Media for In re Gault

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - December 06, 1966 in In re Gault

Earl Warren:

Number 116 in the matter of application of Paul L. Gault et al appellant.

Mr. Dorsen

Norman Dorsen:

Before proceeding to the argument, Mr. Chief Justice and members of the Court, I would like to move the admission of the Assistant Attorney General of Arizona pro hac vice, Frank A. Parks.

Earl Warren:

Is he admitted for that purpose?

Norman Dorsen:

Application of Gault, Number 116.

This case raises important constitutional questions concerning the extent which requirements of procedural fairness guaranteed by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment are applicable to juvenile proceedings.

Appellants, the parents of Gerald Francis Gault claim in particular that the Arizona Juvenile Code on its face and is applied in this case is invalid and failing to provide the following basic protection.

The right to effective assistance of counsel, the right to adequate notice of the charges of delinquency including time to prepare, the right to confront and cross-examine the complainant, the privilege against self-incrimination and the right to a transcript and meaningful judicial review.

These issues which we do raise and pass on below will be taken up severely in due course.

In this case, Gerald Gault at age 15 was committed for the period of his minority that is for up to six years to the State Industrial School in Arizona after juvenile delinquency proceedings consisting of two hearings in the Superior Court of Gila County, Arizona.

This appeal is from a decision of the Supreme Court of Arizona in a collateral action.

That Court affirmed a decision of the Maricopa County Superior Court which after a hearing dismissed the petition for habeas corpus filed on Gerald's behalf by his parents Paul and Marjorie Gault.

Gerald is still in confinement and has been for two-and-one-half years.

The facts are relatively simple and yet it is not possible to be confident about exactly what happened with the original proceedings.

The reasons is that although there were two hearings leading to the determination of Gerald's delinquency and his commitment, a transcript was not made at either one.

The facts accordingly are based on the habeas corpus proceeding in the Maricopa County Superior Court.

At that hearing, it appeared without dispute that in the morning of June 8, 1964, Gerald Gault and a friend Ronald Lewis were taken into custody by the Sheriff's Office of Gila County as the result of the complaint by one Mrs. Cook, a neighbor of the boys about an allegedly lewd telephone call.

Gerald at this time was on six months probation following an incident in February 1964.

At that time he was with another boy who has alleged to have taken the wallet.

The other boy was confined and Gerald was put on probation.

After Mrs. Cook's complaint, the boys were taken to the local probation office pursuant to the Arizona Code.

The probation officers Flagg and Henderson who have the authority of peace officers in Arizona decided to detain the boys for delinquency hearing.

And Flagg interrogated Gerald at some length during the evening of June 8 and the morning of June 9.

No notice of the detention or charges was left at the Gault home.

Mrs. Gault who returned form work at 6 PM on that day, June 8 was informed by her older son, through neighbors, that Gerald was detained.

And she then went to the detention home.

There she was told by Probation Officer Flagg, “Of the general nature of the charges,” and that a hearing would be held the following day, June 9.

No written notice of this hearing or the charges was given to Mrs. Gault at any time.

On June 9, a petition charging Gerald with being a delinquent minor was filed by Probation Officer Flagg with the Juvenile Court.

This is on page 80 of the record of the petition.