In October 2010, Juvenile Law Center filed an amicus brief in the United States Supreme Court, along with the Center On Wrongful Convictions of Youth, in support of the petitioner Devin Welch. Welch, an adult, was sentenced to 180 months—an unusually long duration—for possession of a firearm. He had a juvenile adjudication on his record, and he argued that the juvenile adjudication should not be a factor that lengthens his sentence because he had no right to a jury at his juvenile hearing. Welch referenced the Supreme Court’s decision in Apprendi v. New Jersey that increasing a sentence beyond the statutory maximum must be found by a jury.
Juvenile Law Center filed an amicus brief requesting the Supreme Court to grant certiorari to clarify that a juvenile adjudication should not be used to enhance adult criminal sentences under Apprendi v. New Jersey. Juvenile Law Center argued that adjudications lack the reliability of convictions in criminal court and that the Court’s ruling was inconsistent with the idea that juveniles are different from adults. The brief argued that juveniles must be spared adult-like sanctions or must have the right to due process in juvenile proceedings, including the right to jury trials.
The Supreme Court declined to hear the case.