Sunday, March 13, 2011

Jordan Brown Gets New Hearing on Adult Trial

PA Superior Court Rules 11-Year-Old's Constitutional Rights Violated

Jordan Brown the 11-year-old Lawrence County boy accused of killing his father's fiancee will get a new hearing on whether or not he should be tried as an adult.

According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Superior Court Judges Judith Ference Olson and Cheryl Lynn Allen formed a majority, agreeing with defense arguments that Jordan, who claims innocence, cannot be denied a trial in juvenile court for not saying he is remorseful. The judges vacated the lower court ruling and ordered that another hearing be held to determine whether Jordan should be tried as an adult or a juvenile.

Last year, a county Common Pleas Court Judge ruled that Brown should be tried in the adult court because he refused to take responsibility for the crime and therefore was not amenable to rehabilitation in the juvenile justice system. If Brown were convicted of first degree murder he face a mandatory sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole. He would be the youngest person in the U.S. to face life in prison.

According to the Post-Gazette, the Superior Court found, "By finding that Appellant had to admit guilt or accept responsibility for his actions as a condition to proving that he was amendable for [juvenile] treatment, the trial court placed Appellant in a situation that needlessly encouraged Appellant to sacrifice his Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination," Judge Allen wrote in the 49-page majority opinion.

Judge Robert E. Colville dissented, writing in the minority opinion there was no evidence that Jordan ever sought to invoke his right against self-incrimination. But even in dissent, Judge Colville said the case raised for him "important and complex questions as to the interplay between the Fifth Amendment and the juvenile decertification and transfer process."

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