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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 78604 Find in a Library
Title: Between Recommendations and Orders - The Limbo Status of Juvenile Court Referees
Journal: Crime and Delinquency  Volume:27  Issue:3  Dated:(July 1981)  Pages:317-335
Author(s): H T Rubin
Date Published: 1981
Page Count: 19
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This analysis of the use of referees to hear juvenile court cases and to make recommendations to juvenile court judges concludes that the use of referees should be abolished.
Abstract: Many juvenile courts currently use referees, masters, or commissioners as hearing officers to conduct most juvenile court hearings. With some exceptions, referee authority is limited to entering findings and recommendations which require confirmation by a judge to become a final order. Although the use of referees is substantially cheaper than the cost of adding an additional judgeship, juvenile courts have become dependent on referees, who may outnumber judges by as much as seven to one. These ratios reflect juvenile court judges' desire to accumulate power rather than to share power and also demonstrate the capitulation of the State court systems and legislatures to the image of the juvenile court as an inferior forum. Among problems with the referee system are the double jeopardy problems which accompany the State's appeal of a referee's dismissal of charges and due process constraints which suggest that a defendant is entitled to a final decision by the person who has initially heard the testimony. Recent and expected appellate court decisions on these issues will influence an abolition of the referee position over time. In the meantime, more States will probably replace their referees with full or associate judges, grant referees the same authority as a judge with certain classes of cases, or constrain the evidence a judge can take upon rehearing. The most desirable policy direction would be the replacement of referees by fully empowered judges. This action would both enhance the juvenile court's status and eliminate another trace of the parens patriae approach. Footnotes are provided. (Author abstract modified)
Index Term(s): Critiques; Hearings; Juvenile adjudication; Juvenile court procedures; Juvenile courts; Master (court-appointed)
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