Justia Juvenile Law Opinion Summaries

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A juvenile from a small village could not afford to travel to the site of his juvenile delinquency proceeding. His attorney with the Public Defender Agency (the Agency) filed a motion asking the superior court to require the Division of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) to pay the travel expenses for both the juvenile and one of his parents. The superior court denied the motion and required the Agency to pay the expenses. The court of appeals upheld the superior court’s decision, reasoning that the Agency’s authorizing statute could plausibly be interpreted to cover client travel expenses and that this reading was supported by administrative guidance in the form of two Attorney General opinions and a regulation governing reimbursements by the Office of Public Advocacy (OPA). The Alaska Supreme Court granted the Agency’s petition for hearing, asking the Agency and DJJ to address two questions: (1) whether the Agency has a statutory obligation to pay its clients’ travel expenses; and (2) whether DJJ has a statutory obligation to pay those expenses. The Supreme Court concluded neither entity’s authorizing statutes required the payment and therefore reversed the court of appeals. The Court did not address the question of how these necessary expenses were to be funded; the Court surmised that was an issue for the executive and legislative branches. View "Alaska Public Defender Agency v. Superior Court" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the habeas court rendering judgment against Petitioner, a juvenile offender, on his claim that the evolution of Connecticut's "standards of decency" regarding acceptable punishments for children who engage in criminal conduct has rendered the transfer of his case to the regular criminal docket and resultant sentencing unconstitutional, holding that Petitioner was not entitled to relief on his claims. Petitioner, who was fourteen years old when he committed felony murder, argued that his sentence as an adult after his case was automatically transferred to the regular criminal docket violated the state prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment. The habeas court denied relief. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) transferring the case of a fourteen year old defendant to the regular criminal docket comports with evolving standards of decency and, therefore, does not violate the Connecticut constitution; and (2) Petitioner's forty year sentence does not violate the constitutional prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment after the provisions of P.A. 15-84 made Petitioner eligible for parole after serving sixty percent of his original sentence. View "Griffin v. Commissioner of Correction" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the Appellate Court affirming the trial court's dismissal of Defendant's motion to correct an illegal sentence, holding that because Defendant is now eligible for parole under No. 15-84 of the 2015 Public Acts (P.A. 15-84) the Connecticut constitution did not require a resentencing of his unconstitutional sentence. Defendant, a juvenile offender, was convicted of murder and sentenced to thirty-five years' imprisonment. At the time of sentence, Defendant was indelible for parole. Thereafter, decisions by the United States and Connecticut Supreme Courts and enactments by the legislature resulted in changes to the sentencing scheme for juvenile offenders. To comply with federal constitutional requirements the legislature passed P.A. 15-84. As a result, Defendant will be parole eligible after serving twenty-one years. Thereafter, Defendant filed a motion to correct an illegal sentence, asserting a violation of Miller v. Alabama, 467 U.S. 460 (2012). The trial court dismissed the motion for lack of jurisdiction. The Appellate Court ultimately affirmed on the ground decided in State v. Delgado, 151 A.3d 345 (Conn. 2016). The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that, consistent with Delgado and the federal constitution, Defendant's parole eligibility afforded by P.A. 15-84, 1 was an adequate remedy for the Miller violation. View "State v. Williams-Bey" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the appellate court affirming the judgment of the trial court denying Defendant's motion to correct an illegal sentence, holding that the legislature may and has remedied the constitutional violation in this case with parole eligibility. Defendant, a juvenile offender, was convicted of murder and other offenses. Defendant was originally sentenced to imprisonment for the functional equivalent of his lifetime without the possibility of parole. Subsequently, decisions by the United States and Connecticut Supreme Courts and enactments by the legislature resulted in changes to the sentencing scheme for juvenile offenders. As a result, Defendant will be parole eligible when he is about fifty years old. Defendant filed a motion to correct an illegal sentence based on Miller v. Alabama, 467 U.S. 460 (2012). The trial court ultimately dismissed the motion, concluding that Defendant's claim was moot in light of the United States Supreme Court's holding that Miller applied retroactively. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) parole eligibility afforded by No. 15-84 of the 2015 Public Acts (P.A. 15-84) is an adequate remedy for a Miller violation under the Connecticut constitution; and (2) P.A. 15-84, 1 does not violate the separation of powers doctrine or Defendant's right to equal protection under the federal constitution. View "State v. McCleese" on Justia Law

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Defendant-appellant O.C., appealed an order denying her petition to seal her juvenile court records and related records in the custody of law enforcement and other agencies. She claimed the court was required to seal her records under Welfare & Institutions Code section 786 because she satisfactorily completed her juvenile court probation in April 2011. The Court of Appeal affirmed denial. O.C. was not qualified to seal her records under section 781 because: (1) she was convicted of six felonies in May 2018, after the juvenile court’s jurisdiction over her terminated in April 2011; and (2) in denying O.C.’s sealing petition, the court found that O.C. had not obtained rehabilitation since April 2011, based on the facts underlying her six felony convictions. View "In re O.C." on Justia Law

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At issue before the Idaho Supreme Court in this matter centered on whether a person bringing a tort claim against a governmental entity for alleged child abuse had to comply with the notice requirement of the Idaho Tort Claims Act. Seven individuals (collectively, the Juveniles) filed suit alleging they had been abused while they were minors in the custody of the Idaho Department of Juvenile Corrections. In its ruling on summary judgment, the district court found the Juveniles’ claims based on Idaho Code section 6-1701 were not barred by the notice requirements of the Idaho Tort Claims Act. The Idaho Department of Juvenile Corrections and its employees moved for permission to appeal, which was granted, and they argued the district court erred by allowing the Juveniles’ claims to proceed. The Idaho Supreme Court held that because of the plain language of the ITCA, the notice requirement applied to claims based on tort actions in child abuse cases. Accordingly, the Court reversed the district court’s decision and remanded the case for further proceedings. View "D.A.F. v. Lieteau and Juvenile Corrections Nampa" on Justia Law

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Michael Damion Jude Medrano was convicted by jury on one count of first-degree murder, two counts of second degree robbery, and one count of assault with force likely to produce great bodily harm. Medrano was 19 years old when he committed the offenses. He was sentenced to 25 years to life, plus seven. Medrano was sentenced in December 2017, one and one-half years after the California Supreme Court decided California v. Franklin, 63 Cal.4th 261 (2016), which held that when a juvenile offender receives an indeterminate life sentence, the offender must be “given adequate opportunity at sentencing to make a record of mitigating evidence tied to his youth.” The Court remanded the case to the trial court to determine whether the juvenile offender had been given an adequate opportunity to make such a record. Medrano asked the Court of Appeal to give him the same relief that was granted in Franklin. But because Medrano was sentenced one and one-half years after Franklin, and because nothing in the record indicated Medrano lacked an adequate opportunity at sentencing to make a record of mitigating youth-related evidence, the Court found no basis to order the same relief that the Supreme Court granted in Franklin. It noted, however, that the Supreme Court recently held that a juvenile offender whose conviction and sentence were final could file a motion under Penal Code section 1203.01 for the purpose of making a record of mitigating youth-related evidence. View "California v. Medrano" on Justia Law

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In a moot case of substantial and continuing public interest, a juvenile offender challenges whether her need for treatment was an appropriate basis for imposing a manifest justice disposition. B.O.J. pled guilty to two counts of third degree theft for shoplifting from a grocery store. These offenses subjected her to a "local sanctions" standard sentencing range. In exchange for a plea, the prosecution promised to recommend 6 months of community supervision, 8 hours of community service, credit for time served, release at her sentencing disposition, and no contact with the victims. One month later, the State contended B.O.J. violated the conditions of her release by running away from placement. The State thereafter recommended a manifest justice disposition with confinement in a Juvenile Rehabilitation Administration facility. The trial court stated its findings that both B.O.J.'s need for treatment and the standard sentencing range as too lenient supported the manifest injustice disposition. The Washington Supreme Court determined the trial court's findings were not an appropriate basis for imposing a manifest injustice disposition. The Court reversed the Court of Appeals' holding that B.O.J.'s need for treatment supported the trial court's finding that a standard range disposition would effectuate a manifest injustice. View "Washington v. B.O.J." on Justia Law

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This case centered on the validity of a a changed law that raised the minimum age at which a juvenile could be tried in criminal court. The new law amended a provision of the “Public Safety and Rehabilitation Act” (Proposition 57), which the voters approved in 2016 with the express goals of reducing prison spending, emphasizing rehabilitation for youth offenders, and limiting prosecutorial authority over the decision to try a minor as an adult. To advance these goals, Proposition 57 eliminated prosecutors’ ability to directly file charges against minors ages 14 to 17 in criminal court, requiring them instead to seek the juvenile court’s permission by way of a transfer hearing. In 2018, the Legislature enacted the law at issue here, Senate Bill Number 1391 (2017-2018 Reg. Sess., "SB 1391"), which eliminated prosecutors’ ability to seek transfer hearings for 14 and 15 year olds, effectively raising the minimum age a child can be tried as an adult from 14 to 16. The change affected B.M.’s prosecution for murder. SB 1391 became effective after the Riverside County District Attorney had filed a wardship petition against the then 15-year-old, and had moved to transfer her to criminal court. While the transfer motion was pending, the juvenile court (respondent Riverside County Superior Court) ruled the new law was invalid because it did not further what it identified as Proposition 57’s goal of giving judges the authority to transfer 14 to 17 year olds to criminal court. B.M. sought mandamus relief, arguing the trial court misinterpreted Proposition 57's purpose in declaring SB 1391 invalid. The Court of Appeal agreed, finding SB 1391 furthered each of Proposition 57’s express purposes, including the one concerned with limiting prosecutorial discretion. The Court therefore granted B.M.’s petition for a writ of mandate and directed the juvenile court to vacate its order declaring SB 1391 invalid. View "B.M. v. Superior Court" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court making two teenagers wards of the Indiana Department of Correction, holding that the teenagers failed to show that their remote participation in their hearings resulted in fundamental error but closed this opinion with guidance so that this procedural story would not be repeated. The teenagers in this case each appeared by Skype at a hearing to decide whether their juvenile dispositional decrees should be modified to make them wards of the Department of Correction. The teenagers did not object to participating remotely, but nothing in the record indicated that they agreed to do so or that the trial court found good cause for the remote participation. Both teenagers were made wards of the Department of Correction after the hearings. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Indiana Administrative Rule 14(B) governs the use of telephones and audiovisual telecommunication tools in juvenile disposition-modification hearings; but (2) because the teenagers failed to object to the court's noncompliance with Rule 14(B) and failed to demonstrate fundamental error, the teenagers waived the issue. View "C.S. v. State" on Justia Law