In re Gault/Concurrence White
MR. JUSTICE WHITE, concurring.
I join the Court's opinion except for Part V. I also agree that the privilege against compelled self-incrimination applies at the adjudicatory stage of juvenile court proceedings. I do not, however, find an adequate basis in the record for determining whether that privilege was violated in this case. The Fifth Amendment protects a person from being "compelled" in any criminal proceeding to be a witness against himself. Compulsion is essential to a violation. It may be that, when a judge, armed with the authority he has or which people think he has, asks questions of a party or a witness in an adjudicatory hearing, that person, especially if a minor, would feel compelled to answer, absent a warning to the contrary or similar information from some other source. The difficulty is that the record made at the habeas corpus hearing, which is the only information we have concerning the proceedings in the juvenile court, does not directly inform us whether Gerald Gault or his parents were told of Gerald's right to remain silent; nor does it reveal whether the parties [p65] were aware of the privilege from some other source, just as they were already aware that they had the right to have the help of counsel and to have witnesses on their behalf. The petition for habeas corpus did not raise the Fifth Amendment issue, nor did any of the witnesses focus on it.
I have previously recorded my views with respect to what I have deemed unsound applications of the Fifth Amendment. See, for example, Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436"]384 U.S. 436, 526, and 384 U.S. 436, 526, and Malloy v. Hogan, 378 U.S. 1, 33, dissenting opinions. These views, of course, have not prevailed. But I do hope that the Court will proceed with some care in extending the privilege, with all its vigor, to proceedings in juvenile court, particularly the nonadjudicatory stages of those proceedings.
In any event, I would not reach the Fifth Amendment issue here. I think the Court is clearly ill-advised to review this case on the basis of Miranda v. Arizona, since the adjudication of delinquency took place in 1964, long before the Miranda decision. See Johnson v. New Jersey, 384 U.S. 719. Under these circumstances, this case is a poor vehicle for resolving a difficult problem. Moreover, no prejudice to appellants is at stake in this regard. The judgment below must be reversed on other grounds, and, in the event further proceedings are to be had, Gerald Gault will have counsel available to advise him.
For somewhat similar reasons, I would not reach the questions of confrontation and cross-examination, which are also dealt with in Part V of the opinion.