Juvenile Courts–Juveniles in Delinquency Proceedings Are Not Constitutionally Entitled to the Right of Trial by Jury–McKeiver v. Pennsylvania

At a hearing in the juvenile court of Philadelphia in October 1968, Joseph McKeiver was declared a “delinquent child” and placed on probation by a juvenile court judge who determined that McKeiver had violated a Pennsylvania law. The juvenile court petition charged McKeiver, then sixteen years old, with robbery, larceny, and receiving stolen goods as the result of an incident in which McKeiver and twenty or thirty other youths took twenty-five cents from three teenagers. Despite the fact that the evidence against McKeiver consisted primarily of the weak and inconsistent testimony of two of the victims, the juvenile court judge, following normal practice in juvenile cases, denied McKeiver’s request for a trial by jury. McKeiver’s subsequent application for a rehearing, alleging error in the judge’s refusal to grant a jury trial, was likewise denied.