Who should decide when to put a child on trial in adult court, where the penalties are far more severe and the loss of anonymity is permanent?

That was the question before the New Jersey Supreme Court on Tuesday, when the justices were asked to weigh the merits of state laws that allow county prosecutors to make that determination — and then require state judges to uphold those calls unless they involve an outrageous blunder.

The stakes are high for hundreds of teens who end up in adult courts each year, some facing up to life in prison. In Bergen County, 31 cases have been transferred since the start of 2006. In Passaic County, 15 to 20 are moved each year.