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Halbach disappeared on Halloween 2005. Her family contacted police after she did not show up at the photography studio where she worked and her voice mailbox was full. Officers focused on the Avery Auto Salvage yard in Two Rivers, Wisconsin, the last place she was known to have gone. Avery, the son of the business owner, lived on the property. That day, Avery called Auto Trader magazine, for whom Halbach worked, to request that she photograph a minivan that he wished to sell. The police suspected that Avery’s 16‐year‐old nephew, Dassey, who also lived on the property, might have information about Halbach’s murder and called Dassey into the police station. After many hours of interrogation over several days, Dassey confessed that he, with Avery, had raped and murdered Halbach and burned her body. Before trial, Dassey recanted his confession. The state failed to find any physical evidence linking him to the crime. He was convicted and sentenced to life in prison. After unsuccessful state appeals and post‐conviction proceedings, Dassey sought federal habeas relief, claiming that he did not receive effective assistance of counsel and that his confession was not voluntary. The Seventh Circuit affirmed the district court in granting relief. The state court did not apply the proper standard; juvenile confessions require more care. “If a state court can evade all federal review by merely parroting the correct Supreme Court law, then the writ of habeas corpus is meaningless.” View "Dassey v. Dittmann" on Justia Law

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Jose S., a former ward of the juvenile court, moved under Welfare and Institutions Code section 781 to seal juvenile records related to an admitted charge of lewd and lascivious conduct that occurred in 2002. The juvenile court denied the motion, finding Jose was precluded from relief under section 781 because of an additional admitted and disqualifying charge of assault with a deadly weapon in 2005. On appeal, Jose argued each offense constituted a separate case for purposes of section 781 and that the records related to his 2002 offense should have been sealed. Jose argued in the alternative that the court's denial of his motion to seal was improper because the 2005 assault did not fall within the list of disqualifying offenses set forth in section 707, subdivision (b). The Court of Appeal rejected both these contentions and found the juvenile court did not err in refusing to seal Jose’s records. View "In re Jose S." on Justia Law

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The Juvenile Delinquency Act (JDA), 18 U.S.C. 5031, is intended to ensure that at the time they are brought into the criminal justice process, juveniles will have the benefit of a system that is tailored to their special needs and vulnerabilities and, in particular, to their special receptivity to rehabilitation. In light of this statutory purpose, it is entirely rational to define as juveniles protected by the JDA only those who are younger than 21 when they are indicted. In this case, although defendant was 17 years old when he and another individual robbed a brothel, raping one victim and killing another, he was over 21 years old when he was indicted for the crimes. The Fourth Circuit agreed with the district court that defendant's timing-related arguments were without merit, and that the government established the connection to interstate commerce necessary to sustain a Hobbs Act conviction. The court also found no error in the evidentiary rulings challenged on appeal nor error with defendant's sentence. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "United States v. Lopez" on Justia Law

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The New Mexico Supreme Court addressed the circumstances under which detectives may question a juvenile defendant in the absence of and without notification of a court-appointed attorney or court-appointed guardian ad litem. Then-fifteen-year-old defendant Juan Rivas’ convictions arose from his killing of eighty-three-year-old Clara Alvarez as she slept in her bed. Evidence presented at trial included two statements Defendant had made to detectives. Based on the evidence presented, a jury convicted Defendant of first-degree murder, aggravated burglary, tampering with evidence, and unlawful taking of a motor vehicle. Defendant was then sentenced to life imprisonment. Defendant appealed. Finding no reversible error as to the admission of either statement, the Supreme Court affirmed. View "New Mexico v. Rivas" on Justia Law

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Iowa Const. art. I, section 17 does not categorically prohibit a district court form sentencing a juvenile offender to a minimum term of incarceration without the possibility of parole, provided that the court only imposes the sentence after a complete and careful consideration of the relevant mitigating factors of youth. Defendant, who was a juvenile at the time of his offense, was resentenced to a minimum term of incarceration of seventeen and one-half years for sexual abuse in the second degree. Defendant appealed, arguing that any minimum term of incarceration without the possibility of parole is unconstitutional. The court of appeals affirmed the sentence. The Supreme Court remanded for resentencing, holding that, while the Iowa Constitution does not require abandonment of the practice at issue, the district court abused its discretion in this case by imposing a sentence of incarceration without parole eligibility. View "State v. Roby" on Justia Law

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In 1999, LeBlanc, then age 16, raped a 62- year-old woman. In 2003, a state trial court sentenced him to life in prison. Virginia had abolished traditional “parole” for felony offenders and enacted its “geriatric release” program, which allows older inmates to receive conditional release under some circumstances. In 2010, the Supreme Court held, in Graham v. Florida, that the Eighth Amendment prohibits juvenile offenders convicted of nonhomicide offenses from being sentenced to life without parole and that states must give defendants “some meaningful opportunity to obtain release based on demonstrated maturity and rehabilitation.” LeBlanc sought to vacate his sentence in light of Graham. The state court denied the motion, citing the Supreme Court of Virginia’s decision in Angel v. Commonwealth, that Virginia’s geriatric release program satisfies Graham’s requirement of parole for juvenile offenders: “The regulations for conditional release under this statute provide that if the prisoner meets the qualifications for consideration contained in the statute, the factors used in the normal parole consideration process apply to conditional release decisions under this statute.” LeBlanc filed a federal habeas petition, 28 U.S.C. 2254. The Supreme Court reversed the Fourth Circuit’s grant of relief. The Virginia trial court’s ruling, resting on the Virginia Supreme Court’s ruling in Angel, was not objectively unreasonable in light of existing Supreme Court authority. View "Virginia v. LeBlanc" on Justia Law

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Voters passed Proposition 57 on November 8, 2016, effective the next day. As relevant here, the new law eliminated the State’s ability to directly file criminal charges against a juvenile defendant in a court of criminal jurisdiction (Adult Court). Jeremy Walker was charged with two counts of attempted premeditated murder and one count of active participation in a gang. He was seventeen at the time of the alleged crimes. A jury found Walker guilty as charged. The jury also found firearm and gang enhancements true. The trial court sentenced Walker to 80 years to life in prison. In May 2015, the Court of Appeal ruled that the trial court erred in admitting certain evidence at Walker's trial and reversed his convictions. In September 2015, the remittitur issued in Walker's appeal. Since the issuance of the remittitur, Walker waited for retrial. While waiting, Proposition 57 became effective, and Walker moved to transfer his case from Adult Court to Juvenile Court. Walker argued Proposition 57 applied retroactively to his case. The trial court agreed; the State appealed, and the Court of Appeal reversed, finding Proposition 57 did not apply here. View "California v. Super. Ct." on Justia Law

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David, age 17 years 11 months, was a victim of past gun violence and is a wheelchair-bound diabetic in need of day-to-day medical assistance. He was living in a homeless shelter when a dependency petition was filed, alleging that he was abandoned by his mother and left without means of support. An investigation revealed that David had not been forthcoming about his family. The court dismissed the petition, finding that David had a support system in place but had chosen to leave it behind to be on his own. Had the petition not been dismissed, David would likely have qualified for transitional support as a nonminor dependent until age 21. The court of appeals dismissed an appeal. Dependency jurisdiction may not be initiated in the first instance over someone who is over age 18; it must be initiated before age 18, and by the plain terms of the Juvenile Court Law, may only be “retain[ed],” “continu[ed]” or “resum[ed]” for nonminors in certain circumstances until age 21. David’s case is now moot because he is 18 and any error by the juvenile court in failing to assume dependency jurisdiction is effectively unreviewable. View "In re David B." on Justia Law

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Following entry of a judgment adjudicating Jacob L. of the juvenile crime of aggravated assault, the juvenile court entered an order denying Jacob’s motion for return of property. Jacob appealed, arguing that the juvenile court applied an incorrect legal standard when it determined that the State was entitled to retain possession of cash that had been seized from him and that there was insufficient evidence to support the court’s findings. The Supreme Judicial Court dismissed this appeal as interlocutory and remanded to the trial court for further proceedings because the juvenile court had not yet issued an order determining who owned or was otherwise entitled to possession of the seized property. View "State v. Jacob L." on Justia Law

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When a minor is arrested solely for solicitation or prostitution but is charged in juvenile court with offenses other than prostitution or solicitation, Nev. Rev. Stat. 62C.240 applies, precluding formal adjudication of delinquency and ensuring counseling and medical treatment services as part of a consent decree. Petitioner, a juvenile, was arrested for soliciting prostitution and loitering for the purpose of prostitution and was charged with obstructing an officer. Petitioner was adjudicated as a delinquent. The State subsequently filed several petitions alleging violations of Petitioner’s probation. The juvenile court committed Petitioner to placement at the Claliente Youth Center. Petitioner petitioned the Supreme Court for a writ of mandamus or prohibition directing the juvenile court to vacate its orders adjudicating her as a delinquent and apply the provisions of section 62C.240. The Supreme Court granted Petitioner’s petition, holding that A.J. was entitled to protections afforded under 62C.240 and that the juvenile court arbitrarily and capriciously abused its discretion by adjudicating her as a delinquent. View "A.J. v. Eighth Judicial District Court" on Justia Law