Massachusetts Supreme Court Cause No. SJC-09805 (Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts 2006)
When Guthrie G. was 14 years old, three police officers went to his home to question him about a gun his friend’s father told the police he might have. Guthrie was home alone when the police arrived and invited them in. Once in the house, the police officers asked Guthrie about the gun and he said he had a BB gun. The officers asked to see the gun and Guthrie took them to it. The police then took Guthrie to the police station where his father later appeared. The Court of Appeals upheld the search and confession and Guthrie appealed to the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts.
The Juvenile Law Center filed an amicus brief on October 10, 2006, in support of Guthrie’s appeal. The National Center for Youth Law joined the brief along with numerous other organizations, including the Northwestern University School of Law’s Bluhm Legal Clinic, the Center for Children’s Law and Policy, the Children’s Law Center of Massachusetts, the Children’s Law Center of Minnesota, the Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana, the Juvenile Rights Advocacy Project, the New England Juvenile Defender Center, the Vermont Office of the Juvenile Defender, the Pacific Juvenile Defender Center, the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office, and the Southern Juvenile Defender Center. Amici argue that Guthrie’s confession and the police officers’ search was unconstitutional because the state did not prove he voluntarily consented to the search or made a knowing and intelligent waiver of his right against self-incrimination. The brief argues that the developmental differences between adolescents and adults must inform the determination of a minor’s constitutional rights.
The Supreme Court of Massachusetts upheld the questioning of the juvenile and the seizure of property.
Counsel: Susan Collins, Guthrie G.; Lourdes Rosado and Marsha Levick, Juvenile Law Center; Pat Arthur, NCYL.
Updated April 2, 2010