Juvenile offenders in Kansas have a constitutional right to a jury trial, the state's highest court declared Friday in a decision that could force prosecutors to retry hundreds of cases, reports the Lawrence Journal-World. The ruling could increase the number of jury trials and require at least one more prosecutor, Douglas County District Attorney Charles Branson said. “If juveniles demand their right to a [jury] trial, our system is not set up for this,” he said. “Our processing time for juvenile cases and costs associated with prosecuting cases will double, if not triple.”
“We haven't really thought all this through,” said administrative judge Robert Fairchild. “We're not panicking, but there is a possibility the effect could be significant.” The Supreme Court reversed a decades old ruling that had said children accused of crimes didn't have a right to a jury trial because the juvenile justice system was significantly different from the adult system.