Discussion: Juvenile Court vs. Adult Court

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Review the articles Judge to Decide on Moving Teen’s Murder Case to Juvenile Court and Teen Seeks Juvenile Trial In Georgia Baby Killing.

In your post, apply case law to construct arguments that answer the following questions:

  1. If you were the judge, would you transfer either of the above cases to juvenile court? Why or why not?
  2. Analyze the scenarios using the mitigating circumstances and risk assessments detailed in your text; what factors or circumstances influenced your rationale in answering the question in part a?

Respond to the 2 peer post below using these guidelines….In response to your peers, support or challenge their responses with one additional evidence-based point of rationale. Ensure your response highlights prevailing juveniles’ constitutional rights.

Peer post 1

If I were the judge in either of these cases I would not move them to juvenile court. In the case of Morgan Arnold, I agree with the judge that she is a threat to public safety. Her defense that she isn’t mentally fit to tried as an adult feels more like a defense tactic and not reality. In Morgans conversations with her mother stating that she wished he would die and that he deserved to die hurt her case that she is mentally ill and that her crime was a more thought out process. The judges job is to protect the public and it seems like a better option to let the facts play out in court and let a jury decide her fate.

In Dominique Lang’s case, he may not have been the one to pull the trigger and kill the 13 month old baby but he was there with the intent to commit a robbery. It’s likely he knew his accomplish had a gun and they were willing to do anything necessary to commit the robbery. Because Georgia law doesn’t allow murder cases to be heard in juvenile courts, and because of the other acts committed, I believe it is appropriate that Dominique be tried in an adult court.

Although these cases are different, they both have similarities in that they are trying to use the defense that the accused have a mental illness and may not be fit to stand trial. I disagree with those defenses and believe that if you are willing to commit such heinous crimes you ought to be tried as an adult. If both cases were to be tried in a juvenile court I don’t think the rehabilitation offered to them would be enough to keep the public safe after their sentence and rehabilitation is complete.

Peer post 2

Hello Class and Professor,

As judge presiding over these two cases, I would not transfer either case to juvenile court. In the first case, regarding Morgan Arnold, The judge stated that considerations were made regarding the defendant’s age, potential treatment or lack thereof in the juvenile system, and the nature of the crime in regards to public safety. The judge ruled that he did not believe she would get the help she needed for her complex mental issues in the juvenile system. He also stated that he believed the defendant to be a threat to public safety (Simms, 2017). I believe the judge’s primary concern, and rightly so, is the safety of the public. The fact that she is “profoundly mentally ill”, as her attorney stated, does nothing to protect society. Arnold should receive treatment, at a secured facility, to protect society.

In regards to the Lang case, the young defendant conspired with the second defendant to commit armed robbery, and a cold blooded murder of a baby, and shooting of the baby’s mother occurred during the commission of that crime. While a mental evaluation should be done on Lang, again, the safety of innocent civilians and the public in general must take precedence. A 15 year old is or should be capable of recognizing the barbarity of such an act and is therefore fully culpable for the act. Lang eventually entered into a plea agreement that freed him from jail, and placed him on probation for eight years (CBS, 2015).

While the terms risk assessments and dangerousness are often interchangeable, the risk assessment refers to the risk of recidivism, while dangerousness refers to the possibility of the defendant posing a danger to others if released. Mitigating and aggravating circumstances refer to details about the crime or the defendant that intensify or lessen the seriousness of the act (Merlo & Benekos, 2019).

These two cases have some differences in these areas. Arnold’s case of patricide, involved the targeting and killing of her father, for reasons known only to her in a possibly diminished mental capacity. This was not a random act of violence, and although the nature of the act is disturbing, it is not as heinous in comparison to shooting a baby in the face while robbing his mother, then shooting her. The fact that a baby was murdered, in front of its mother, and then the mother was shot, all in the commission of an armed robbery, are all aggravating circumstances. In Arnold’s case, mitigating circumstances may include mental illness, a history of abuse by her father, (real or perceived), or pressure from a dysfunctional household. In both cases, however, I believe the juveniles to be dangerous to society, and therefore, should face the adult system.

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