Adults tried as Juveniles??

Kennedy Clan Michael Skakel will be tried as a juvenile

He could have a maximum sentice of four years under 1975 juvenile law.

This in a society that tries minors as adults.


Regardless of his age now, he was 15 at the time of the murder. Had the police & prosecutors done their jobs properly, he would have been tried as a juvenile then. Under law at the time, he could not be tried as an adult unless so ordered by a judge.

In response to rising rate of homicide & other violent crimes committed by juveniles in the intervening 25 years, most states have lowered the age at which defendants can be tried as adults. BUT these laws were not in effect at the time of the crime; therefore his case goes to juvenile court at least for the initial phases.

The purpose of a separate juvenile system is to recognize in increased rehab potential of young, first-time offenders. It would seem that Mr. Skakel has rehabilitated himself, and has lived cleanly since the murder.

I certainly cannot see any reason why failure of the police & prosecutors at the time to do their job properly should cause him to be jailed for 25 years-to-life instead of the 4 he might have been sentenced to back then.

IF it can be proven that he and/or his family exerted undue influence & caused the police & prosecutors not to pursue this, try him for that. But his age now is immaterial to whether he was acting as a child or as an adult when (and if) he killed Martha Maoxley at age 15.

Hypothetical analogy:
Early attention in the JonBenet Ramsey case was focused on her then 9 year old brother (I may be slightly off here). If new evidence comes to light in 10 years, so that he’d be 22 or so, does that change the fact that he would have been 9 at the time of the crime?

Sue from El Paso

Experience is what you get when you didn’t get what you wanted.

Well, we don’t know if he will be tried as a juvenile. His case will start by being heard in juvenile court. There’s a big difference.

But the general proposition is that you cannot punish someone more severely than the law at the time they committed the crime allowed for.

Let us say mopery is punishable by up to five years in prison, and I commit mopery today. But I’m cunning and clever, and avoid capture for a year. In the meantime, the legislature, alarmed at the increase in mopery, increases the punishment to a maximum of twenty-five years. You can see how unfair it would be to subject me to that greater punishment when I’m finally caught and tried, can’t you?

Not only is it unfair, it’s unconstitutional. The U.S. Constitution, Article I, Sec. 9, forbids Congress from passing any ‘ex post facto’ law – that is, a law that punishes things that happened in the past. Article I, Sec. 10, similarly prevents any state legislature from doing that.

This is not to say will will definitely be tried as a juvenile. In 1975, the law in Connecticut required that the state had to present compelling evidence for the juvenile court to waive a defendant into the district court. So that’s what they’ll do.

I have little doubt that the court will find compelling reason to move the case. I don’t know the specifics of Connecticut law, but here in Virginia one of the findings that used to be required was that the J&DR court ‘could not adequately address the rehabilatative needs of the juvenile.’ If there’s anything similar under 1975 Connecticut law, it’s a pretty safe bet that they’ll waive him into district (‘adult’) court.

So my bet is, he’ll be tried in district court, as an adult.

  • Rick

I don’t know the legality of it, but is there any mitigation in him turning himself in?

Humph, and I know I wrote something earlier, darn web board.

I sold my soul to Satan for a dollar. I got it in the mail.

I agree with the reasoning for him being tried as a juvenal - I’d like to see it applied as wisely elsewhere, everywhere. It is not justice simply because it is appropriate to the crime - it must be applied to all equally. Juvenile status is not given to all children tried for murder. Even some who are clearly imcompetent. I think this is an incredibly egregious miscarriage of justice, on so many levels.

Quote - “The purpose of a separate juvenile system is to recognize in increased rehab potential of young, first-time offenders. It would seem that Mr. Skakel has rehabilitated himself, and has lived cleanly since the murder.”

Pretty easy to do when you are let free to go to college instead of serving 4 years in prison with pretty baby blue eyes …

Sue - you point about Jon Benet’s brother is well taken (I re0read your post).

Skakel was 15, almost a responsible adult. Many courts are routinely trying 11 year olds as adults. I think we need a consistant standard.

Turning himself in when there was a warrant out for his arrest? They should go easy on him for that? :frowning: If he’s found guilty, he should do an extra year for each of the 25 yrs since the murder, IMO.

Sorry, RR; you are attempting to equate Justice with Equality. There is a difference between “Equal protection of the law” and “Justice Administered.”

RobRoy -

The problem here is one that was touched upon in a previous thread “Statutory Rape”

Because of how complex our society is right now, it takes 18-22 (or more) years for a child to become a productive member of that society. Juvenile law is intended to product an partially mature individual from being punished as harshly as a fully developed individual.

But we become physically mature at an average of 12-13 for girls & 14-15 for boys. This has remained relatively constant over the millennia, or become slightly younger due to better nutrition/higher body fat.

And some of these “kids” are not able to visualize themselves fitting into this society & opt out into gangs. They are fully capable of wreaking as much havoc as adults, and consider themselves as developed as they want to be. Are they kids, or are they adults?

While even today, one 15 year old killing another in the suburbs would be “newsworthy”, in the inner cities, it is so commonplace that it would be relegated to a small column on page 14. If some crusader journalist took interest, it might get airtime as a human interest story, or a spread in the CityLife section of the paper.

As to questions of who is more worthy of a second chance, I have real problems with this. Here are some hypotheticals.

On one hand you have a kid who may never have had an adult care about what he did & try to show him how to deal with problems in a constructive way, or give him the faith to believe in his future. His record is likely to be horrendous. He has already decided to be a criminal. But he may never have had a first chance…

OTOH, you have a wealthy kid from a nice family with every reason to believe that the world was his oyster, just waiting for him to come along. And he still screws up. But it’s just one act in an otherwise crime-free (or at least uncaught) life…

I don’t know the answer to this.

I suspect that the current system does try too many kids as adults. But IMO there are truly kids out there who have made a decision to abandon their childhoods who are counting on a juvenile system to let them keep on doing what they’re doing.

Sue from El Paso

Experience is what you get when you didn’t get what you wanted.

You are aware, Sage, that the grand jury only just recently indicted him? And that the arrest warrant was only issued a few days before he flew in from another state to turn himself in?

This is not someone who has been a fugitive from justice for 25 years, or was the target of a nation-wide manhunt, or who forced the State of Connecticut to initiate extradition hearings.

The 25 year interval between the murder & his turning himself in was not of his doing. IF he committed this murder, he did not confess to it. Legally, he was not, and is not now, obligated to do so. (Morally is another thread…)

Although Mark Fuhrman (a highly reliable source if ever I saw one :rolleyes: ) has written a book “convicting” Mr. Skakel, let’s also not forget that as of now, he is only accused of this crime, NOT convicted.

Sue from El Paso

Experience is what you get when you didn’t get what you wanted.

In “the MisMeasure of Man”, a great book on “scientific racism”, it is pointed out that flexible sentencing was created to take account of people’s potential for reform. Previous to this, most crimes carried sentences that were set for the crime in the given juristiction.

At the time, dark skin, a “jutting jaw” and other features associated with Italians and Blacks were considered scientific “proof” of the genetic inability to reform a convicted criminal.

The estimate of a human being’s potential is hard to make, and is often a self fulfilling profecy.

It is unfortunate that the lenience is given to those who have the most choices (the elite) and commit a crime, and those who seem to be cornered in society as we throw up our hands and pronounce them unreformable.

The results of this type of justice costs American millions of $ in white collar crime (I would put the S&L scandal in this class) every year. The people who commit these crimes are at best admitted to be employable and are slapped on the wrist…

I think justice should be administered evenly with mandatory minimum sentences based on the crime committed. This would be an incredible deterrent to crime. You do it, we prove it with scientific method, we lock you up. Interestingly, if whites and white collar criminals received the same sentences (and death sentences) as their minority counterparts, the perception of certain groups being more reformable than others would fade, as a crime record, not a socioeconomic prfile would be seen as a truer guide to personal integrity and the ability to fit in in society.

Since Satan isn’t here to play devil’s advocate I guess I could.

As Bricker said, it is unconstitutional to punish to make a law that punishes past events. So unless 15 year olds were commonly tried as adults 25 years ago, Skakel will argue that he should be tried as an adult.

Not that it is my opinion, I believe the only right a convicted murderer has is the right to a bullet in the head.

P.S. If this case goes any higher than district court I am going to kill somebody, it would just be absurd. And you won’t hear me whinning about my rights if that happens!!

We must blame them and cause a fuss before somebody thinks of blaming us.
Sheila Broflofski

Well… I actually don’t know if ‘district court’ is what Connecticut calls the felony trial court. In Virginia, there is a Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court, a General District Court, and a Circuit Court.

The district court tries misdemeanors and handles all arraignments. An arraignment is imply the initial appearance on a criminal charge, where the accused is informed of the charges against him.

All felony charges are actually tried in circuit court.

An appeal from the verdict is heard by the Court of Appeals. Parties dissatisfied with the result may appeal again to the Virginia Supreme Court. At both of those appellate steps, though, there is no ‘trial’ – no witnesses testify. You are simply arguing that the trial court made errors of law. The findings of fact made by the jury (or judge) at the trial are more or less set in stone at that point.

The purpose of an appeal is to convince a panel of judges that the trial court made mistakes during the trial, and so you deserve another trial, or that you deserve to be simply released. This is why you must have “grounds for appeal” – that is, you must identify specific errors that you claim prejudiced your cause. The Court of Appeals or the Supreme Court may choose to not even hear your appeal if you do not present sufficient grounds.

(Interestingly enough, a defendant’s route of appeal from a guilty verdict in General District Court in Virginia is to the Circuit Court. They do have a new trial in that case – a “de novo trial.” You do not need to present any grounds; this is called an appeal as of right. This is only permitted for misdemeanor cases, obviously, since a felony case starts of being heard at the circuit court.)

So – it’s very possible that, if he’s found guilty, he’ll appeal and be heard by a higher court. I hope you don’t do anything rash! :slight_smile:

  • Rick

Bricker says

Not only is it unfair, it’s unconstitutional. The U.S. Constitution, Article I, Sec. 9, forbids
Congress from passing any ‘ex post facto’ law – that is, a law that punishes things that
happened in the past. Article I, Sec. 10, similarly prevents any state legislature from
doing that.<hr>
Someone will correct me if I’m wrong I’m sure. But I believe that refers to people already accused or convicted of a crime. Not a person that commited it earler.

The most Invisible poster in the history of the boards. Posting invisibly since sept 1999.

You are wrong.

You may be thinking of the prohibition against double jeopardy, which protects persons from a second prosecution for the same offense after an acquittal, from a second prosecution after a conviction, and from protection against multiple punishments for the same offense.
These protections derive from the Fifth Amendment, which provides in pertinent part: “…nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb…”

  • Rick

Hey, lighten up Sue!

Yes I do understand he was just indicted and the warrant issued a few days before. And then he turned himself in, rather than being led away in handcuffs.

My comment/question was in answer to someone who said he should get handled differently for having turned himself in.

Why? This isn’t running a red light! This is MURDER OF A CHILD! Reread my post and the one it was responding to.

I’ve reread your post. You suggest that not only should he not receive any benefit for surrendering to police voluntarily, but he should also “…do an extra year for each of the 25 yrs since the murder.”

Sue questioned why you were holding the twenty-five year delay against him, especially since, as she cogently observed, the delay was not occasioned by the accused.

Your response was to ask her to lighten up, and an observation that this was a serious crime.

It is a serious crime, but that doesn’t address why the delay in commencing prosecution should be chargeable to the defendant if he’s found guilty.

I would invite you to address that point.

  • Rick

My pleasure to oblige Rick, since you have paraphrased anyhow.

You are right, I don’t think he should get better treatment from the court for his having turned himself in rather than being led away in handcuffs. If you think he should, fine. Present your reasoning.

Now to your paraphrasing or ommissions: I said:

Note particularly the “If he’s found guilty” and the “IMO” (in my opinion). I did not purport that this is even a possible legality, simply my opinion of what should happen to a murderer who goes about his life after committing such a heinous act.

Further, my “observation” (?) is not that it’s a “serious crime.” It is a fact however, that it is murder.

Those are my opinions, Rick. And I stand by them.

Bricker: you do realize that Black’s Law Dicitonary merely provides a definition of the thing the Constitution is prohibiting?

No, no. I would suggest that this is a neutral fact, neither a mitigator or an aggravator. Reading your post suggested to me you thought it was an aggravating circumstance of the crime.

We can all agree that it’s murder.

I apologize for inadvertantly excluding the “IMO” portion when quoting you. I chose to exclude the “If he’s found guilty” part, reason that in context it was obvious you’d want him to serve time only if found guilty.

And since you have emphasized that this in only your opnion, there is very little I can say; indeed, how can I argue that it isn’t your opinion?

But I am still a little confused as to why you told Sue to “lighten up?” A fair reading of your original post could easily leave someone with the impression that you favored increased punishment for anyone whose prosecution took place twenty-five years after the criminal act. Sue pointed out that the delay was not occasioned by the defendent.

I’m still trying to learn where she should have been lighter.

  • Rick