JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – A 16-year-old is challenging how Missouri certifies minors as adults in the face of criminal charges.
The minor’s public defender argued to Missouri Supreme Court judges Wednesday that the state’s process for certifying juveniles as adults is unconstitutional and discriminatory.
Court records only identify the black 16-year-old as D.E.G. He was certified as an adult in Jackson County and is charged with first-degree assault and armed criminal action.
His lawyer cited 2017 court data that show black minors were close to six times more likely to be certified as adults compared to white minors.
D.E.G’s attorney added that he might turn 18 before he’s able to appeal his certification as an adult under Missouri’s current process.
An attorney for Jackson County’s juvenile officer says the certification process provides due process.