For several decades, juvenile courts functioned like clinics. Judges assigned there were instructed to assume a variety of roles: jurist, psychologist, counselor, sociologist, and parent. The In re Gault decision in 1967 granted juvenile defendants several constitutional rights that transformed juvenile courts into criminal court-like operations. Juvenile court judges have not been told whether they should continue to be paternal or emulate their counterparts in adult court; research has not addressed this subject. In this study, 100 juvenile court workers (judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, probation officers) from three juvenile courts (urban, suburban, rural) were interviewed to ascertain how judges operate in juvenile court and what these workers perceive to be the proper role for the judge. The data show that most workers believe that the role of the juvenile court judge is and should be unique.
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