Wash State: No Jury Trial Rights for Violent Juvs

The Washington State Supreme Court ruled yesterday that a juvenile charged with a violent crime has no constitutional right to a jury trial. The case centered on Azel Chavez, who was 14 in 2004, when he hatched a plot to kill three high school football coaches he was angry with. According to this AP report, Chavez “led police on a high-speed three-county chase that ended when he collided head-on with a police car on the Hood Canal Bridge.” He was tried as a juvenile and sentenced to up to seven years in juvenile detention, plus a one-year enhancement for gun possession. The AP report has a gloss of the complexities of the legal argument that determined that juveniles in the state are not entitled to a jury trial, even though, as Chavez’s lawyers had argued, juveniles are effectively treated in court as adults, who are entitled to have their cases heard before a jury.

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