therefore, this is true of proceedings in the Juvenile Court. Precious constitutional rights cannot be diminished or whittled away by the device of changing names of tribunals or modifying the nomenclature of legal proceedings. The test must be the nature and the essence of the proceeding rather than its title. If the result may be a loss of personal liberty, the constitutional safeguards apply.
The beneficent legislation creating the Juvenile Court was intended to ameliorate some of the rigidity of the criminal law and criminal procedure in cases in which juveniles were concerned. This was accomplished in large part by introducing a desirable degree of informality and flexibility in the proceedings, as well as in part by modifying the rather formidable terminology of criminal procedure. Manifestly, the ultimate objective was to confer additional rights and privileges on juvenile offenders beyond those to which they had been entitled previously, as well as in addition to those that adult offenders have under existing law. It is inconceivable that it was the intention to shear juveniles of rights that they would have if treated on the same basis as adult defendants. If, however, the legislation were to be so construed, it would be invalid as repugnant to the Constitution. The argument that the constitutional rights and privileges accorded to defendants in Federal courts should not be extended to juvenile offenders obviously constitutes a peculiar paradox.
The only privilege of defendants in criminal cases in Federal courts that is not accorded to defendants in the Juvenile Court of the District of Columbia, is the right to a preliminary hearing without unnecessary delay. It is an anomaly that this procedure does not exist in the Juvenile Court, United States v. White, D.C., 153 F.Supp. 809. It must be noted, however, that the right to a preliminary hearing is not a constitutional guaranty, important as it may be, but finds its foundation solely either in statutes or rules of court. There is no basis whatever for holding that a defendant in the Juvenile Court, even if he is named 'respondent' instead of 'defendant' may be bereft of his constitutional rights.
It may be of some interest to observe that the draftsmen of the Federal Juvenile Delinquency Act, which governs proceedings against juveniles in the Federal courts, acted on the assumption that proceedings under that statute must comply with constitutional requirements. Consequently, it was provided that a juvenile may be proceeded against as a juvenile delinquent only if he consents to such procedure, and then the consent is deemed a waiver of the right to prosecution solely by an indictment and of a trial by jury, 18 U.S.C. § 5032.
The second question to be resolved is whether in the instant case, the proceeding in the Juvenile Court had progressed to a point at which jeopardy attached. In a criminal proceeding, or a proceeding in the nature of a criminal proceeding, appearances in court may be classified into three categories: a preliminary hearing, an arraignment, and a trial or hearing. The same judicial officer at times may sit as a committing magistrate to hold preliminary hearings and at times as a judge to conduct arraignments or trials. This is true, for example, of the judges of the Municipal Court of the District of Columbia. Manifestly, no jeopardy attaches at a preliminary hearing. On the other hand, if a trial is commenced either by the empanelling of a jury in a jury trial, or by calling or swearing the first witness at a non-jury trial, jeopardy attaches. So, too, jeopardy attaches if at arraignment, or at any subsequent appearance in court, the defendant pleads guilty and his plea of guilty is accepted and a finding is made on the basis of such plea.
The acceptance of a plea of guilty constitutes a conviction, Kercheval v. United States, 274 U.S. 220, 223, 47 S. Ct. 582, 71 L. Ed. 1009.
In this instance the record of the Juvenile Court clearly indicates that the proceeding before the Judge was in the nature of an arraignment, at which the defendant (or the respondent, as he is known in that court) acknowledged his guilt, in effect pleading guilty, and the court found the respondent within its jurisdiction as a delinquent child. The case was continued for social study and recommendations as to disposition. This course is similar to the acceptance of a plea of guilty in the district court and reference to a probation officer for a presentence investigation. The inference is inescapable that this proceeding was not a preliminary hearing before the Juvenile Judge sitting as a committing magistrate, but an arraignment or trial before the court. Obviously jeopardy would have attached under those circumstances and the defendant would not be subject to prosecution in a subsequent case on the same charge. The conclusion is inevitable that in this instance jeopardy attached and that, therefore, the defendant may not be prosecuted in this Court on the same charge.
This result in no wise interferes with the statutory authority of the Juvenile Court to waive jurisdiction to the District Court in certain cases. The waiver of jurisdiction, however, must take place before jeopardy attaches. It may be exercised either after a preliminary hearing, or after an ex parte investigation, but may not occur after the defendant has pleaded guilty and his plea was accepted, or after the case has been tried, or the trial has been started in Juvenile Court. The mere fact that different terminology is used in the Juvenile Court in a commendable and humane effort to disassociate its activities from the atmosphere of a criminal tribunal, does not affect these conclusions. We must not be misled by names or terms, but must be guided by juristic concepts to which the names or terms are attached. From this standpoint, what transpired in this case was a plea of guilty by the defendant, an acceptance of the plea by the judge, and a finding by the judge. Obviously this was a conviction and, consequently, jeopardy attached.
It is true that the statute authorizing waiver of jurisdiction requires the Juvenile Court first to make an investigation. Such investigation does not necessarily comprise proceedings in court of a type that would be equivalent to the entry and acceptance of a plea of guilty or a trial. The investigation may be undertaken ex parte by the social staff of the court, and if any hearing takes place, it should be a preliminary hearing.
In view of the foregoing circumstances, the Court is constrained to hold that the plea of former jeopardy is well founded in this case. Accordingly, the motion to dismiss the indictment will be granted on that ground and the indictment will be dismissed. It does not follow, however, that the defendant should be discharged. The Juvenile Court may resume jurisdiction of the case and proceed from the point which the case had reached in that court. Accordingly, the defendant will be remanded to the custody of the Juvenile Court and returned to the Receiving Home.
Motion to dismiss the indictment on the ground of former jeopardy is granted. The case is remanded to the Juvenile Court of the District of Columbia. The defendant is remanded to the custody of the Juvenile Court, and his transfer back to the Receiving Home will be ordered.
Counsel will prepare and submit an appropriate order.