Jury Trial in Termination of Parental Rights Cases (2008 by klutzfu59


                                                                                                                           September 2008 /      Vol. 13 , No. 9

   National Center for Juvenile Justice                       www.ncjj.org
    Research Division of the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges www.ncjfcj.org

    Jury Trial in Termination of Parental Rights Cases
                      (2008 Update)
                                                          Linda A. Szymanski, Esq., Chief of Legal Research, NCJJ

       Jury Trial in Termination of Parental Rights Cases                                  And, in Wisconsin the            Rhode Island, South Dakota,
                                                                                       powers of the jury are limited.      Tennessee, and West Virginia.
                                                                                       If the facts of the case are
                                                                                                                                State courts that have
                                                                                       determined by a jury, the
                                                                                                                            looked at the issue and
                                                                                       jury can only decide whether
                                                                                                                            denied a jury trial in such
                                                                                       any grounds for termination
                                                                                                                            cases have noted that judges
                                                                                       of parental rights have been
                                                                                                                            are well situated to make
                                                                                       proven. The court must then
                                                                                                                            reliable findings, given their
                                                                                       decide what disposition is in
                                                                                                                            knowledge of and familiarity
                                                                                       the best interest of the child.
                                                                                                                            with the controlling law and
                                                                                           Likewise states vary in the      the prior proceedings of the
                                                                                       procedure used to deny jury          case.
                                                                                       trials in termination of parental
                                                                                                                                Jury trials could delay
                                                                                       rights cases.
                                                                                                                            permanent placement, reduce
                                                                                           In 12 states there is no         judicial economy, increase
                                                                                       constitutional right to a            the number of contested
                                                                                       jury trial in a termination of       adjudications and decrease the
                        Permits or requires a jury trial         (6)                   parental rights case: Alaska,        court’s ability to maximize its
                        No constitutional right to a jury trial (12)
                        No statutory right to jury trial        (14)
                                                                                       California, Georgia, Illinois,       resources.
                        Case heard by judge only                (19)                   Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky,
                                                                                                                                However, legislatures
                                                                                       Maine, Michigan, New
                                                                                                                            continue to debate the issue
                                                                                       Mexico, North Carolina, and
                                                                                                                            of permitting or requiring jury
    As of the end of the                       law permitting jury trials in           Utah.
                                                                                                                            trials in termination of parental
2008 legislative session,                      termination of parental rights              In 14 jurisdictions there        rights cases.
the following 6 states have                    cases. This law was repealed,           is no right to a jury trial in a
statutes or case law that                      effective January 1, 2007.              termination of parental rights
permit or require a jury trial in                                                      case by statute: Alabama,
                                                   Of the states that permit
termination of parental rights                                                         Arkansas, Colorado. District of
                                               or require jury trials in such
cases: Nevada, Oklahoma,                                                               Columbia, Idaho, Minnesota,           NCJJ Snapshot is a copyrighted
                                               cases, the procedure varies                                                   publication of the National Center for
Texas, Virginia, Wisconsin,                                                            Montana, Nebraska,
                                               from state to state. For                                                      Juvenile Justice. NCJJ is a non-profit
and Wyoming. In Virginia,                                                              New Hampshire, Ohio,                  organization that conducts research
                                               example, in Oklahoma, the                                                     (statistical, legal, and applied) on a
the jury is called an “advisory                                                        Pennsylvania, South Carolina,
                                               demand for a jury trial must be                                               broad range of juvenile justice topics
jury.”                                                                                 Vermont, and Washington.              and provides technical assistance
                                               granted unless waived. Also,                                                  to the field.
    The remaining 45                           the court, on its own motion,               In 19 states termination          For additional information or to
jurisdictions have case law or                 can call a jury to try such a           of parental rights cases              request a custom analysis, contact
                                                                                                                             NCJJ at 3700 S. Water St., Ste. 200,
statutes or local court rules                  case. This jury must consist of         are heard by a judge only:            Pittburgh, PA 15203 Phone: (412)
or common practice that                        6 persons.                              Arizona, Connecticut,                 227-6950.
specifically prohibits a jury                                                          Delaware, Florida, Hawaii,            ISSN 1093-9369
                                                   In Virginia, the judge has
trial in termination of parental                                                       Iowa, Louisiana, Maryland,            Price: $5
                                               the discretion to allow an                                                    Suggested Citation:
rights cases.                                                                          Massachusetts, Mississippi,           Szymanski, L. (2008)Jury Trial in
                                               advisory jury to hear an issue                                                Termination of Parental Rights Cases
    As an experiment,                          on appeal in a termination              Missouri, New Jersey, New             (2008 Update). NCJJ Snapshot,
effective December 18, 2003,                   of parental rights case on the          York, North Dakota, Oregon,           13(9). Pittsburgh, PA: National
                                                                                                                             Center for Juvenile Justice.
Arizona enacted statutory                      motion of any party.

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