Justia Juvenile Law Opinion Summaries

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In 2013 when he was 17 years old, Dantazias Raines was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole (“LWOP”) for malice murder. The Georgia Supreme Court affirmed Raines' convictions and sentences in part, reversed Raines' convictions for misdemeanor obstruction of a police officer, and vacated his sentence in part. On remand, Raines filed a motion for a jury to make the requisite determination under Veal v. Georgia, 784 SE2d 403 (2016). The trial court denied his motion and certified its order for immediate review. The Supreme Court granted Raines' request for interlocutory review to consider whether a defendant facing a sentence of life without parole for an offense committed when he was a juvenile had a constitutional right to have a jury (as opposed to a judge) make the requisite determination of whether he was “irreparably corrupt” or “permanently incorrigible.” Raines argued in favor of having a jury make the determination prior to imposition of a LWOP sentence; the State argued a defendant did not have a right under the Sixth Amendment for the jury to make the "specific determination" outlined in Veal. The Supreme Court held a defendant convicted of committing murder as a juvenile did not have a federal constitutional right to have a jury determine, in accordance with Veal and the Sixth Amendment, whether he was irreparably corrupt or permanently incorrigible such that he may be sentenced to LWOP, thereby affirming the trial court. View "Raines v. Georgia" on Justia Law

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In this extended-jurisdiction juvenile proceeding, the Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals dismissing the juvenile's appeal, holding that the court of appeals had jurisdiction to hear the appeal. The district court gave John P., a juvenile offender, both a juvenile sentence and an adult sentence. The adult sentence was stayed on the condition that John substantially comply with the terms of the juvenile sentence and not commit a new offense. A week before John's conditional release supervision ended, the State moved to revoke his juvenile sentence and impose the adult one, citing several alleged violations of conditional-release rules. The district court found that John had violated the terms of conditional release and imposed the adult sentence. The court of appeals dismissed John's appeal, determining that it lacked jurisdiction because Kan. Stat. Ann. 38-2380(b) doesn't authorize the appeal of a later order imposing an adult sentence in an extended-jurisdiction juvenile proceeding. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Kan. Stat. Ann. 38-2347(e)(4) gives a juvenile offender who is the subject of an extended jurisdiction juvenile prosecution all the rights an adult defendant would have, which includes the right to appeal an adverse judgment such as the one in this case. View "In re J.P." on Justia Law

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A.A., born in February 2003, was first adjudicated delinquent and placed at Woodside, a secure treatment facility for juveniles, in September 2016. He was placed back in his home in the continued custody of the Department for Children and Families (DCF) in December 2017. In 2018, A.A. was charged in the criminal division, with one count of assault and robbery, injury resulting, and one count of providing false information to a police officer. Shortly thereafter, a delinquency petition alleging larceny was filed against A.A. in the family division. While these cases proceeded, A.A. was administratively held at Woodside in connection with the earlier, unrelated delinquency case. In this appeal, the issue presented for the Vermont Supreme Court's review centered on whether the statutory timeline for adjudicating the merits of A.A.'s delinquency petition while held in a secure treatment facility applied to the delinquency petition where there was no secured-facility placement order because A.A. had already been placed at a secure facility pursuant to a prior, separate delinquency petition. Because the Supreme Court concluded the statutory timeline set forth in 33 V.S.A. 5291(b) did not apply in such situations, the Court rejected A.A.'s call for dismissal of the petition on appeal and vacation of the secure-facility placement order that had been issued under a different petition. The Court affirmed the family division’s order adjudicating A.A. delinquent for having committed assault and robbery. View "In re A.A." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the order of the juvenile court placing A.I. in the custody of the Department of Health and Human Services, holding that the juvenile court correctly applied the preponderance of the evidence standard when it determined whether to place A.I. in the custody of the Department. On appeal, Mother argued that the matter should be remanded to the juvenile court so that findings can be addressed under a clear and convincing standard rather than a preponderance of the evidence standard. The Supreme Judicial Court disagreed, holding that A.I.'s dispositional hearing fell on the less-intrusive end of the continuum and that the juvenile court did not err when it applied the preponderance of the evidence standard in the proceedings below. View "State v. A.I." on Justia Law

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In October 2018, S.J. (born September 2001) consumed alcohol and drove. He veered off the road and hit a parked car and a fence. Responding officers observed signs of intoxication. A breath test showed S.J.’s blood-alcohol level was 0.12%. A petition under Welfare and Institutions Code 602(a) alleged: misdemeanor driving under the influence; misdemeanor driving while having a blood-alcohol level of 0.08% or more; and misdemeanor driving without a license. In February 2019, the juvenile court found S.J. not suitable for informal supervision, commenting “a standard term in adult-land for a DUI is search and seizure for alcohol. … it’s particularly important when we have a minor . . . whose … mother has allowed ... the minor to consume alcohol. … I just don’t see how, in a DUI with a .12 and a minor who also smokes marijuana, we can effectively supervise and ensure rehabilitation without a search and seizure clause, which is foreclosed in an informal probation setting.” The court sustained two allegations, dismissing the driving without a license allegation, declared S.J. a ward of the court, and directed the Probation Department to supervise him at home. The court imposed a $75 restitution fine, a $390 fine for violation of Vehicle Code section 23152, and $1,355 in penalties. The court of appeal affirmed the denial of informal supervision but remanded for recalculation of the penalties, most of which were inapplicable in this noncriminal proceeding. View "In re S.J." on Justia Law

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Terrence Brownlee was 19 years old when he was sentenced to 17 years to life in state prison for second degree murder committed with a firearm. The Court of Appeal held that Brownlee was not entitled to a youth offender parole hearing, because the statutory framework's plain language, Penal Code sections 3051, 3051.1, and 4801, does not afford him one. The court explained that, within this statutory framework, if a prisoner's first parole hearing is not a youth offender parole hearing, then the prisoner does not receive a youth offender parole hearing. Such prisoners are still entitled to have the board consider the diminished culpability of youth as compared to adults, the hallmark features of youth, and any subsequent growth and maturity. View "In re Brownlee" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court retransferred this case to the court of appeals after the juvenile division dismissed a juvenile petition and transferred jurisdiction over D.E.G., a juvenile, to a court of general jurisdiction, holding that a juvenile has the statutory right to appeal from any final juvenile division judgment. A Juvenile Officer filed a petition alleging that D.E.G. required care and treatment because he committed conduct that, had he been an adult, would have constituted first-degree assault and armed criminal action. After a hearing, the juvenile court dismissed the juvenile petition and transferred jurisdiction over D.E.G. to a court of general jurisdiction. D.E.G. appealed to the court of appeals, and the Supreme Court granted transfer. The Supreme Court retransferred this case to the court of appeals for its review of the underlying merits of the juvenile division's judgment, holding (1) a juvenile may appeal from a final judgment in the juvenile division, including the juvenile division's decision to dismiss a case from its jurisdiction following a Mo. Rev. Stat. 211.071 hearing; and (2) In re T.J.H., 479 S.W.2d 433 (Mo banc 1972), and all other cases holding a juvenile's dismissal from a juvenile division's jurisdiction may be challenged only in a court of general jurisdiction are overruled and should no longer be followed. View "In re D.E.G." on Justia Law

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In 2008, defendant-appellant Adrian Federico pled guilty to assault with a firearm. He admitted he personally used the firearm in the commission of the offense, personally inflicted great bodily injury, and committed the offense for the benefit of a street gang. The trial court sentenced him to a total term of 20 years in state prison. Ten years later, the superior court received a letter from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR), recommending that the court recall and resentence defendant under section 1170(d), stating the court should not have imposed both a GBI and gang enhancement in light of California v. Gonzalez, 178 Cal.App.4th 1325 (2009). Defendant thereafter moved the court to apply Proposition 57 and transfer jurisdiction to the juvenile court (he was 15 years old at the time of the offense). The trial court declined to apply Proposition 57, since defendant’s judgment was final long before Proposition 57 took effect. However, the court concluded it would provide him with Gonzalez relief by resentencing him to 17 years in state prison, consisting of four years on count 1, plus three years on the GBI enhancement, and 10 years on the personal firearm enhancement. The court imposed but stayed the 10-year gang enhancement under Penal Code section 654. On appeal, defendant argued the trial court erred in denying his request to apply Proposition 57 and/or Senate Bill No. 1391 (2017-2018 Reg. Sess.) and remand the matter to the juvenile court. Finding no reversible error, however, the Court of Appeal affirmed. View "California v. Federico" on Justia Law

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Defendant was convicted of a murder he committed when he was 16 years old and sentenced to life without the possibility of parole (LWOP). The trial court subsequently sentenced defendant to LWOP at a second resentencing. In the interim, Proposition 57 was passed, prohibiting prosecutors from charging juveniles with crimes directly in adult court. The Court of Appeal conditionally reversed defendant's sentence and remanded for him to receive a transfer hearing in the juvenile court. Because defendant's original sentence was vacated and his sentence is no longer final, and because Proposition 57's primary ameliorative effect is on a juvenile offender's sentence, the court held that the measure applies to preclude imposition of sentence on defendant as an adult, absent a transfer hearing. The court held that, regardless of his current age, defendant fits within the Supreme Court's holding that the voters intended Proposition 57 to apply as broadly as possible. View "People v. Padilla" on Justia Law

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The Office of the Public Defender and the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey (ACLU) applied directly to the New Jersey Supreme Court for relief relating to the spread of the novel coronavirus in state prison and juvenile facility settings. They essentially asked the Judiciary to order a framework for the early release of several groups. Under the proposed framework, judges or court-appointed special masters would decide whether to grant release or a furlough in individual cases. Two days after the Public Defender and ACLU wrote to the Court, the New Jersey Governor issued Executive Order 124 creating a mechanism to identify inmates in state prison to be considered for parole or a medical furlough. The Supreme Court determined Executive Order 124 created a sufficient expectation of eligibility for release through a furlough program to call for certain due process protections. Inmates may challenge the DOC’s action, a final agency decision, by seeking review before the Appellate Division. The agency’s decision is entitled to deference on appeal. Individual inmates may also seek relief independently under Rule 3:21-10(b)(2). They do not have to exhaust the remedies available under the Executive Order before they may file a motion in court. As to sentences imposed on juveniles who are in the custody of the Juvenile Justice Commission (JJC), those individuals may seek relief from the court on an individual basis. To the extent the opinion called for trial judges to rule on motions and the Appellate Division to review agency decisions, the Supreme Court exercised its supervisory authority to require that applications be heard and decided in a matter of days and urged the Commissioner and the Parole Board to act as expeditiously as possible. View "An Order to Show Cause to Address the Release of Certain Individuals Serving Sentences in State Prisons and Juvenile Facilities" on Justia Law