KS Supreme Ct. Rules Juveniles Have Right to Jury Trials

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ The Kansas Supreme Court says juvenile offenders have a constitutional right to a jury trial.

Court spokesman Ron Keefover says the decision could force prosecutors to retry hundreds of juvenile cases. Click here to read full decision

The ruling applies to juvenile cases still pending, as well as future cases.

The court had ruled in 1984 that the juvenile justice system was different enough from the adult system that juvenile offenders didn't have a constitutional right to a jury trial.

But in its 6-1 ruling Friday, the court said legislators have changed the juvenile system to make it more like the adult system.

The dissenter was Chief Justice Kay McFarland, a former juvenile court judge. She said the decision is out of step with rulings in other states.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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