© Joel Gordon Photography
© Joel Gordon Photography
© Joel Gordon Photography
© Joel Gordon Photography

50 Years of Gault

May 15, 2017, will mark the 50th anniversary of the landmark In re Gault Supreme Court decision. Join the National Juvenile Defender Center and its partners in commemorating Gault at 50 and championing children’s right to counsel.

© Joel Gordon Photography

What is Gault?

In re Gault, 387 U.S. 1 (1967), was a landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision that ensured the right to a lawyer for children accused of crimes in juvenile court. The ruling also provided other due process rights, including the right to be notified of the charges, the right to cross-examine witnesses, and the right to not have to make a statement against oneself.

Countdown to 50

The In re Gault decision came down on May 15, 1967. In May of 2016 we launched a public awareness campaign leading up to the decision’s 50th anniversary in 2017 to ensure the promise of Gault is a reality for all children.

In re Gault was a giant step forward for the rights of children. Yet, due to inconsistent enforcement and lack of awareness, the due process rights of our children in delinquency court are not protected. We’ve come a long way, but we have a long way to go.


juvenile delinquency cases each year


states have no laws saying how young is too young to prosecute a child


states do not restrict shackling of children in juvenile court


states do not allow jury trials in juvenile court

Upcoming Events

The National Juvenile Defender Center and its allies and partners will be commemorating the Gault decision in the run up to the 50th anniversary. Find an event below.

  • Feb 4, 2017 - Miami, Florida

    American Bar Association’s Summit on Public Defense

    The ABA is pleased to announce its 12th Annual Summit on Public Defense. The Summit is the premier daylong conference on public defense provision, structure, and innovation and is hosted by the Standing Committee on Legal Aid and Indigent Defendants (SCLAID)—the ABA’s oldest standing committee.
  • Feb 12, 2017 - New York, New York

    NCJFCJ National Conference on Juvenile Justice

    Join the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges in the Big Apple as it brings this vital and important educational opportunity featuring cutting edge information, state-of-the-art programs and current research in the juvenile justice system.
  • Apr 21, 2017 - Houston, Texas

    Southwest Juvenile Defender Center’s 16th Annual Zealous Advocacy Conference: Gault @ 50

    The Southwest Juvenile Defender Center is hosting its 16th Annual Zealous Advocacy Conference: Gault @ 50 on April 21 and 22, 2017, at the University of Houston Law School.
  • May 15, 2017 - Washington, D.C.

    Gault at 50 Commemoration

    NJDC will commemorate the Gault decision with a 50 state reform plan to ensure every child in juvenile court has a well-trained defense attorney.
  • Jun 11, 2017 - Washington, DC

    2017 Juvenile Training Immersion Program (JTIP) Summer Academy

    The National Juvenile Defender Center (NJDC) and the Georgetown Law Juvenile Justice Clinic are excited to announce a Call for Applications to the 2017 Juvenile Training Immersion Program (JTIP) Summer Academy.
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    Dec 20, 2016 - News Item

    Guest Post: Some juvenile defendants still denied justice through lack of counsel

    “You have a right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you.” This familiar phrase, frequently heard on television and in movies, reminds us of what most Americans know and take for granted – that all people facing the prospect of incarceration have the right to effective legal representation.
    Nov 28, 2016 - News Item

    Report Offers Blueprint for Building Better Juvenile Representation System

    While some juvenile justice systems ensure that every child is represented, a new report from the National Juvenile Defender Center (NJDC) says that many others continue to allow a substantial percentage of youth charged with an offense to appear in court without a lawyer, including a disproportionate number of children of color.
    A judge in a courtroom striking the gavel
    Nov 15, 2016 - News Item

    Report: Youth Lack Access to Quality Defense Attorneys

    Better data collection, improved efforts to attract juvenile defenders and well-funded, well-organized defense systems are among the ways to ensure youth charged with an offense have a lawyer by their side when they enter a courtroom, a new report says.
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