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Case Basics
Docket No. 
Morris A. Kent, Jr.
United States
(for the petitioner)
(for the petitioner)
(for the respondent)
Facts of the Case 

Morris A. Kent Jr., a 16-year-old boy, was detained and interrogated by the police in connection with several incidents involving robbery and rape. After Kent admitted some involvement, the juvenile court waived its jurisdiction. This allowed Kent to be tried as an adult. Kent was indicted in district court. Kent moved to dismiss the indictment because the juvenile court did not conduct a “full investigation” before waiving jurisdiction, as required by the Juvenile Court Act. A jury found Kent guilty and sentenced him to serve 30-90 years in prison. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit affirmed, although it noted that the juvenile court judge provided no reason for the waiver.


Was the juvenile court’s waiver of jurisdiction valid?

Decision: 5 votes for Kent, 4 vote(s) against
Legal provision:

No. In a 5-4 decision, Justice Abe Fortas wrote for the majority. The Supreme Court determined there was not a sufficient investigation prior to the juvenile court waiver of jurisdiction. Kent did not receive a hearing, access to counsel, or access to his record prior to the waiver. The Court remanded the case to the district court to determine whether the waiver was proper. Because Kent was 21 years old at the time of this decision, the juvenile court no longer had jurisdiction if the waiver was proper. In light of this, the Court ordered that the conviction be vacated if the waiver was improper and sustained if proper.

Justice Potter Stewart wrote a dissent stating he would vacate the judgment and remand the case for reconsideration in light of two recent decisions by the court of appeals. Justice Hugo L. Black, Justice John M. Harlan, and Justice Byron R. White joined in the dissent.

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KENT v. UNITED STATES. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 26 August 2015. <>.
KENT v. UNITED STATES, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, (last visited August 26, 2015).
"KENT v. UNITED STATES," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed August 26, 2015,