We conclude that appellant was entitled to a jury trial, first, because the crime with which he was charged was an indictable and serious offense at common law, and second, because the crime itself is morally offensive and Malum in se.
Even if a first conviction becomes the subject of a mandatory youthful offender finding thus purporting not to be a criminal conviction, this finding itself may become a predicate in a subsequent prosecution wherein youthful offender status may be denied. Having been rendered in a constitutionally defective proceeding lacking trial by jury, its utility in the statutory scheme becomes null and void.
THE PREDICATE NATURE OF A YOUTHFUL OFFENDER FINDING
We respectfully submit that the "youth-adult" classification does not apply here. We are not now faced with a youth who, being given special benevolent treatment may be classified separately from an adult. In reality, the classes matched against each other in this instance are youths with no criminal convictions as against youths with prior convictions. In so doing, the state moves a youth from one category to another on the basis of state action via its courts which deny the right to trial by jury. This it may not do constitutionally.
The primary purpose of the youthful offender law is to prevent the imposition of increased punishment on a subsequent conviction of this defendant of a crime. In effect therefore, the State of New York not only establishes the first (viz. mandatory) youthful offender finding as a predicate or basis for denial of such treatment in a future prosecution without a constitutionally mandated trial by jury, but does so even in the face of holdings characterized by Shannon which disapprove the concept of escalating punishment.
THE RIGHT TO TREATMENT CASES:
The annals of constitutional law may well single out the decade of the 1960's as the most fertile and creative in history. As an offshoot to an unparalleled expansion of Constitutional frontiers, the landmark decisions of the Supreme Court also triggered lower courts and intermediate courts of appeal to extend themselves and grant recognition to new and innovative doctrines, ideas which were so far ahead of their time that they are first reaching the high court in the middle and late 70's. One of these children of the 60's is that line of authority which has come to be known as the "right to treatment" cases. These cases which were originally litigated in the field of mental health held in effect that where a state guarantees benevolent treatment to a classified group, and thereby deprives an individual of liberty for any period however brief through proceedings which lack any element of classical 14th Amendment due process, it is under a positive obligation to furnish treatment. When a state deprives an individual in the name of treatment and fails to furnish it, the cause or pretense of detention becomes illusory thus rendering further confinement constitutionally unlawful.
In a case decided by the Court of Appeals, the court considered a statute providing for commitment of mental defectives. The court gave judicial recognition to the right to treatment and remanded for appropriate considerations on specifics thereof. The importance of the right-to-treatment cases and Supreme Court approval thereof becomes apparent from the fact that this interpolated right which first saw the light of day as applied to mental patients was extended to juvenile proceedings before O'Connor reached the Supreme Court.
We thus arrive at the inevitable conclusion that the State of New York by providing for a constitutionally defective trial for mandatory youthful offenders, is under a concomitant obligation to provide treatment, an obligation it makes no pretense at meeting. While the statute provides for benign handling of youthful offenders, it is totally silent on the issue of treatment. We therefore find New York's youthful offender statute constitutionally defective as failing to provide constitutionally mandated treatment as Quid pro quo for denial of trial by jury.