The Test Case and Law Reform in the Juvenile Justice System

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Yale Review of Law and Social Action, Vol: 1, Issue: 2, Page: 6

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Peter R. Kolker
article description
Many reform-minded attorneys practicing in juvenile courts have sought to promote change in the juvenile justice system by combining the three essential ingredients needed to formulate a test case: determination, legal reasoning and In re Gault. I Too often, however, counsel have discovered that the conventional test case has become a less effective tool for reform as the juvenile courts have learned to live with the invasion of attorneys and due process standards which the Supreme Court's 1967 Gault decision produced. Juvenile courts have jealously guarded their prerogative to mete out justice unimpeded by procedural technicalities and have surrendered this control only with the greatest reluctance. Some courts have stymied test case efforts either by intentionally blocking litigation or by undermining the effect of appellate decisions.