McKeiver v. Pennsylvania

PETITIONER: Joseph McKeiver et al.
RESPONDENT: Pennsylvania
LOCATION: Juvenile Court of Philadelphia

DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1970-1971)

CITATION: 403 US 528 (1971)
ARGUED: Dec 09, 1970 / Dec 10, 1970
DECIDED: Jun 21, 1971

Facts of the case

Joseph McKeiver and Edward Terry were accused of robbery, theft, assault, and escape that referred to felonies in Pensylvania. The defendants were minors and requested a jury trial. But their demand was canceled, and proceedings took place in the Juvenile Court. According to rulings, their guilt was proven and condemnation was imposed. The decision was upheld without an opportunity on appeal.

However, the plaintiff filed an appeal to the US Supreme Court regarding his deprivation of the right to hearing by jury for cases with juveniles. Mckeiver argued citing on the Sixth Amendment, which established such a right and should be adhered by the states in accordance with the Fourteenth Amendment that obligated states to adhere fair proceedings. Hence, the main issue for resolving was whether the decision did not contradict with the mentioned principles of Constitution.

The case study found in the last order explanation that juvenile process didn`t apply the same methods of hearing and protections as for lawsuits of general jurisdiction. The reason was that they were not under regulation of the 6th Amendment. Following from that the rulings confirmed that the jury trials were not obligatory by the constitution in the proceedings with minors. Hence the state courts didn`t have the mandatory rule to implement them, but this issue was maintained under the internal legislation.

The case brief reflects that under the judges’ conclusions and recommendations the juvenile proceedings should be changed and should implement all the protection rights and means that were determined for general criminal jurisdiction.


Does the Sixth Amendment right to a jury trial, as applied to the states by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, apply to juveniles?

Media for McKeiver v. Pennsylvania

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - December 09, 1970 in McKeiver v. Pennsylvania

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - December 10, 1970 in McKeiver v. Pennsylvania

Warren E. Burger:

In re Burrus against North Carolina.

Mr. Morgan, you may proceed.

Robert Morgan:

Mr. Chief Justice and may it please the Court and I'm Robert Morgan representing the State of North Carolina.

As I heard the arguments of the petitioner yesterday and as I study the briefs filed in this case, I find that one threat that runs throughout the briefs and throughout the arguments is the contention that the Juvenile Correction System in North Carolina is -- affords no treatment different from that which criminals would receive.

Now, on Tuesday night when I arrived in the office of Mr. Scanlan here in Washington, I was handed a copy of the petitioner’s reply brief for the first time.

Notwithstanding the fact that all other briefs in this case had been on file for several months and I find it somewhat ironical that in a case such as this where the so question seems to be a -- the question a one of procedural due process where the petitioner’s plead in their brief as they do on page 18 and page 19 for more formality in the courts where they complained that the courts often ignore the established rules of evidence, where they complain that the judges and the courts are often subjected to inadmissible evidence that the petitioners in this case should submit to this Court on the eleventh power a brief contained what I believe to be distorted, misleading and actually false representations of the North Carolina Juvenile Correctional System.

They cite in their brief and the so citation for their position.

A purported report made by group of law students from Duke University.

None of them are identified by name.

A copy of their poor report has not been made available to me nor has it been published or distributed to my knowledge.

A telephone call to the North Carolina Director of Juvenile Corrections, he informed me that he had not been supplied with a copy of that brief.

Now, although he did agree that back in the summer of 1969, he had agreed for some law students to spend a week in each one of the correctional institutions.

Neither today has not been time for me to refute the accusations made in this reply brief, but nor would I attempt to do so if time were available because I think such accusations or such information should be more properly made to the General Assembly of North Carolina.

A legislative body arched to a court or any court of law where an attack was being made upon such conditions.

If such conditions actually exists.

I would be remiss I think since the brief is on record and then filed in this Court, the highest court of our land.

If I did not state to the court that while our Juvenile Correctional Institutions are not all that they ought to be they’re not all that we hope that they will be.

I do believe that they offered to the boys and girls who they are substantial and meaningful opportunities for education, vocational treatment and for correction.

There are no fences around any of these institutions with the exception of the Dillon School where there are 113 of the most aggressive and incorrigible juveniles.

Hugo L. Black:

When did you say that brief was submitted?

Robert Morgan:

On Tuesday night was when I received it, Your Honor.

The night before --

Hugo L. Black:

Has it been distributed?

Robert Morgan:

Yes, it was just --

Potter Stewart:

They’ve been filed here December 2nd, that’s the (Voice Overlap).

Hugo L. Black:

December 2nd.

Robert Morgan:

Yes, sir but we did not receive it until Tuesday night.

Now, in every one of the Juvenile Correctional institutions, there are public schools.

Every teacher in these schools holds an A certificate, a higher certificate issued by the State of North Carolina except graduate students and graduate certificates and many of the teachers many of them hold graduates certificates.

Driver’s education is taught in this institutions and the State of North Carolina furnishes automobiles for the youngsters to drive while they are in such training.