Currently, 20 states allow juveniles the right to a jury trial. Louisiana, however, is not one of them as made perfectly clear by the state's supreme court in the case of In the Interest of A.J. Following in the footsteps of the U.S. Supreme Court in McKeiver v. Pennsylvania, the Louisiana Supreme Court ruled today that a juvenile does not have a constitutional right to a jury.
The case arose earlier this year when a state Juvenile Judge ordered that the juvenile defendant, A.J. be granted a jury since he faced more than six months of incarceration. According to the Juvenile Judge:
"After 10 years on the juvenile bench, this court cannot continue to indulge the legal fictions of juvenile court: that jail does not mean jail; that juvenile crime is not really crime; that a proceeding that uses armed guards and shackles is actually civil; or that liberty means one thing for adults and something else for juveniles. Who are we trying to convince? The juvenile? The victim?" he wrote. "These fictions have only one purpose: to rationalize not applying the United States and the Louisiana Constitutions as written."