Kent v. United States

Full title: Morris A. KENT, Jr., Appellant, v. UNITED STATES of America, Appellee

Court: United States Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit

Date published: Jul 30, 1968


At the age of sixteen the appellant, Morris Kent, was accused of committing several robberies and rapes. He was waived by the juvenile court and indicted on three counts of housebreaking, three counts of robbery, and two counts of rape. A jury returned a verdict of guilty on the housebreaking and robbery counts and not guilty by reason of insanity on the rape counts. The district court sentenced him to thirty to ninety years, with credit for the time spent in Saint Elizabeths Hospital pursuant to D.C. Code § 24-301(d).

Kent appealed his conviction, contending that the juvenile court had waived him without an adequate hearing. After this court affirmed his conviction, the Supreme Court reversed and directed the district court to hold a full-dress de novo hearing to determine whether Kent should have been waived in 1961.

At the remand hearing, the district court, sitting as a juvenile court, found that the 1961 waiver was “appropriate and proper.” We conclude that, due to inaccuracies in several of the district court’s findings, its decision cannot be sustained. We conclude further that, because of the district court’s finding that Kent was suffering from a serious mental illness, the waiver was inappropriate.



Since Morris Kent should not have been waived in 1961, the subsequent criminal proceedings were invalid and must be vacated. This does not mean, however, that he will be released from Saint Elizabeths Hospital. The Government can institute civil commitment proceedings against Kent to ensure that he remains in the Hospital. We think the institution of commitment proceedings is demanded by the appellant’s long history of serious illness accompanied by sordid behavior. Such proceedings will assure his confinement for treatment for as long as public safety requires. To avoid any gap in Kent’s confinement, we stay our mandate in this case until the commitment proceedings have been completed, provided they are instituted within thirty days.

We reverse the decision of the district court and direct it to vacate the prior judgment of the district court in accordance with this opinion.


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