Justia Juvenile Law Opinion Summaries

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Ali shot and killed three people during an attempted robbery in Minneapolis. He was given three consecutive life sentences, each permitting his early release after 30 years so that Ali must remain in prison for at least 90 years. Relying on recent Supreme Court precedent, Ali argued that the Eighth Amendment forbids life-without-parole sentences for juvenile defendants unless they are irreparably corrupt and that a sentencing court must conduct a hearing to consider the juvenile defendant’s youth as a mitigating factor before imposing a life-without-parole sentence. Ali claimed his sentence was the “functional equivalent” of life-without-parole. The Minnesota Supreme Court rejected Ali’s argument. The Eighth Circuit affirmed the denial of Ali’s petition for habeas relief under 28 U.S.C. 2254. Ali’s case is distinguishable from the Supreme Court cases; Ali received three life sentences for three separate murders, each permitting possible release. Ali does not face a life-without-parole sentence and the Supreme Court has not “clearly established” that its ruling apply to consecutive sentences functionally equivalent to life-without-parole. View "Ali v. Roy" on Justia Law

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In December 2018, E.F. (minor) and L.S. were ninth graders enrolled in the same art class in high school. For unknown reasons, minor offered L.S. a Cup of Noodles, microwaved it, and handed it to him. When L.S. went to drink the broth, it smelled of bleach and he threw it out. The juvenile court entered a temporary restraining order (TRO) and, subsequently, a three-year restraining order against E.F., charged with poisoning one of her high school classmates. Among other things, this appeal presents the following question: Is a prosecutor seeking a TRO under Welfare and Institutions Code section 213.5 required to give advance notice of her intent to do so (or is notice at the hearing where the TRO is requested sufficient)? The court in In re L.W., 44 Cal.App.5th 44 (2020) held that advance notice is required. The Court of Appeal disagreed, holding that express language in section 213.5 authorized courts to authorize TROs without notice in advance of the hearing. “The minor appearing at the arraignment with counsel is still notified of the prosecutor’s TRO application and has the opportunity to oppose the application. Because due process guarantees notice and the opportunity to be heard, the issuance of TROs under section 213.5 accords with due process and thus provides no basis to read section 213.5 in a counter- textual manner to avoid possible constitutional infirmity.” View "In re E.F." on Justia Law

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Tajay Johnson and Kevin Hairston were both convicted by jury of one count of second degree robbery, one count of carjacking, one count of kidnapping to commit robbery, and one count of kidnapping for the purpose of carjacking. Johnson was 17 years old when he committed the offenses. Charges were originally filed against him in criminal court. However, after voters enacted Proposition 57, the Public Safety and Rehabilitation Act of 2016 during the pendency of the criminal proceeding, Johnson’s case was transferred to juvenile court to determine whether he was fit to proceed as a juvenile or should be tried as an adult. Both defendants were ultimately sentenced to life with the possibility of parole for each of the kidnapping offenses. The sentences for robbery and carjacking were stayed under Penal Code section 654. The Court of Appeal agreed with defendants and the State that carjacking was a necessarily included lesser offense of kidnapping for the purpose of carjacking, and therefore reversed defendants’ convictions for carjacking. The Court further agreed with both parties that the abstracts of judgment had to be amended and that defendants’ sentences needed to be clarified. Defendants also challenged the imposition of various fines and fees as due process violations under California v. Dueñas, 30 Cal.App.5th 1157 (2019). The Court concluded some of those claims were forfeited, and as to the remainder any error was harmless. A $40 crime prevention fine was stricken as unauthorized. Johnson singly argued that with respect to his being tried as an adult, he had a statutory right to a waive the juvenile fitness hearing, and his attorney could not do so in his behalf. The Court disagreed with Johnson's contention. The matter was remanded for correction of abstract, and for imposition of a statutorily mandated $10 fine instead. View "California v. Johnson" on Justia Law

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On rehearing en banc, the Fourth Circuit reversed the judgment and remanded with instructions to grant plaintiff's motion to set aside the agency's final action denying plaintiff special immigrant juvenile (SIJ) status. In this case, USCIS interpreted 8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(27)(J) (i) to require a permanent custody order and thus denied plaintiff's SIJ application, dismissing his administrative appeal. The court held that the agency's rejection of plaintiff's SIJ provision -- that clause (i) requires a permanent custody order -- is entitled to no deference, defies the plain statutory language, and impermissibly intrudes into issues of state domestic relations law. Because the agency's interpretation of clause (i) was not in accordance with law, the court remanded to the agency to take another look at plaintiff's SIJ application. View "Perez v. Cuccinelli" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment for defendants in a 42 U.S.C. 1983 action brought by plaintiff, alleging that a Juvenile Corrections Officer violated her constitutional rights. Plaintiff alleged that the officer made sexual comments to her, groomed her for sexual abuse, and looked at her inappropriately while she was showering. The panel held that, viewing the facts in the light most favorable to plaintiff and drawing all reasonable inferences in her favor, plaintiff has presented sufficient facts to establish a violation of her right to bodily privacy, right to bodily integrity, and right to be free from punishment as guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment. The panel also held that the district court erred when it concluded that there was no evidence supporting a causal link between the supervisor's conduct and the officer's alleged violation of plaintiff's constitutional rights. Therefore, the panel remanded for further proceedings. View "Vazquez v. County of Kern" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court vacated the decision of the court of appeals affirming the determination of the juvenile court that termination of Father's parental rights was not in the child's best interest, holding that Iowa Code chapter 600A's best interest factors weigh in favor of terminating Father's parental rights. Mother petitioned for the termination of Father's parental rights due to abandonment under section 600A.8(3)(b). The juvenile court found that Father statutorily abandoned the child but denied Mother's petition based on its determination that termination was not in the child's best interest. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court vacated the court of appeals' decision and reversed the judgment of the district court, holding that the juvenile court erred in concluding that termination of Father's parental rights was not proper under chapter 600A. View "In re Interest of B.H.A." on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeal reversed the trial court's order granting habeas relief to respondent under Penal Code section 3051. The People argued that the trial court wrongly found section 3051 applicable because respondent had already been granted parole on his indeterminate-term youth offense. The court held that, by the plain language of the statute, respondent was not entitled to a youth offender parole hearing at the time the statute became effective and thus was not entitled to the additional benefits afforded by the case law requiring immediate release upon parole under that statutory scheme. View "In re Howerton" on Justia Law

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In 1994, 17-year-old Cristian J. Delbosque was convicted of aggravated first degree murder and received a mandatory life sentence without the possibility of release. Because he was a juvenile at the time of his offense, Delbosque was resentenced in 2016 in accordance with the Miller-fix statute and received a minimum term of 48 years without the possibility of parole. The Court of Appeals concluded that Delbosque could seek review of his sentence only through a personal restraint petition (PRP), rather than direct appeal, but nevertheless reversed his sentence, holding that the trial court's factual findings were not supported by substantial evidence. The Washington Supreme Court affirmed the Court of Appeals' holding that the sentencing court's findings were not supported by substantial evidence, thus remanding for resentencing was proper. However, the Supreme Court reversed the Court of Appeals' holding that Delbosque was not entitled to a direct appeal. View "Washington v. Delbosque" on Justia Law

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J.M., born in 2010, suffered an accident when he was 10 months old. Since the accident J.M. has resided at Children’s Hospital, suffering from anoxic brain injury, epilepsy, developmental delays, and bone disorders. He has gastrostomy and tracheal tubes and is nonverbal. In 2017, the Hospital declared him medically cleared for discharge, provided that two adults be trained as caregivers. J.M.’s father had never visited him; his mother’s visits were infrequent. The Santa Clara County Department of Family and Children’s Service filed a petition alleging that his parents were unwilling and/or unable to care for him and that they had a history of substance abuse. The Department recommended permanent legal guardianship by J.M.’s grandmother, who visited J.M. regularly and with whom J.M. had a positive emotional bond. J.M.’s siblings were also in her care. Grandmother completed some but not all of the training to care for J.M.; she had no plans to obtain accessible housing. Grandmother was not seeking placement of J.M. in her home. J.M. opposed the plan, arguing that the court lacked authority to appoint grandmother as legal guardian without him being in her physical custody and that the plan was not in his best interest because it would relieve the Department of any obligation to find a less restrictive placement. The court of appeal affirmed the adoption of the Department’s recommendation. Continued residence at the hospital may not be optimal, but grandmother is committed to J.M’s best interest and supports moving him to a suitable permanent care facility should that become available. The court asked the Department to continue to look for more permanent placement, View "In re J.M." on Justia Law

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Minor recorded photographs and videos on his cellular phone of consensual sexual activity between himself and Jane Doe, both under 18 years old. He later extorted money from Doe by threatening to disclose the recordings to other students at their high school. He was placed on juvenile probation after admitting to felony possession of child pornography (Pen. Code 311.11(a)) and extortion (Pen. Code 518, 520). Minor argued that a probation condition requiring him to submit all electronic devices under his control to warrantless searches by the probation department and to provide passwords necessary to access information on those devices was unconstitutionally overbroad. The California Supreme Court granted review and transferred the matter to the court of appeal for reconsideration in light of its 2019 decision, In re Ricardo P. The court of appeal again upheld the condition, noting the direct relationship between minor’s offenses and his use of an electronic device. The search condition was appropriately tailored. View "In re Q.R." on Justia Law