New ruling for Jordan Brown sends his case back to county court

On Friday, the Pennsylvania Superior Court ruled to remand 13-year-old Jordan Brown‘s case to county court for Judge Dominick Motto to reconsider his view on whether or not Jordan should be tried as a juvenile.
Pennsylvania law requires that all juveniles ten and older, who commit an offense such as homicide, must be tried as adults. The only way a child or teenager may receive relief from this is if a judge rules to decertify their case, allowing the legal process to take place in the juvenile justice system instead of the adult system. Jordan Brown was 11 years old when he was arrested in the early morning hours for the murders of his father’s fiancée, Kenzie Houk, and her unborn son. The police only spent five hours investigating alternate leads before arresting the young boy based on finding a shotgun in Jordan’s room that smelled as though it had been fired recently. On January 29th, 2010, Judge Motto overheard arguments relating to whether Jordan should be tried as a juvenile or adult. The judge eventually ruled that Jordan’s case should commence in adult court. In the judge’s decision, he wrote:

“Experts from both the Defendant and the Commonwealth have agreed that in order for rehabilitation to occur in the Juvenile Court System, Defendant must take responsibility for the offense and at this juncture, has failed to do so. The court can only conclude upon this record that Defendant has failed to meet his burden to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the transfer of this case to juvenile court will serve the public interest.”

On March 11th, 2011, the Superior Court ruled that this original decision was unconstitutional because it violated Jordan’s Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. Arguments for and against the decertification of Jordan’s case will occur before Judge Motto at an unspecified time, further delaying his Sixth Amendment constitutional right to receive a speedy trial. Those in support of Jordan hope that this ruling is a step in a positive direction for Jordan. On a discussion and informational forum pertaining to Jordan’s case, a supporter wrote in reference to the Superior Court ruling to remand the case back to Judge Motto: “That certainly is great news. I hope they get it right this time.”

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