Justia Juvenile Law Opinion Summaries
Elisa W. v. City of New York
Plaintiffs-appellants, nineteen children in New York City’s foster care system, filed suit alleging “systemic deficiencies” in the administration of the City’s foster care system in violation of federal and state law. The named Plaintiffs moved to represent a class of all children who are now or will be in the foster care custody of the Commissioner of New York City’s Administration for Children’s Services and two subclasses. As remedies, they sought injunctive and declaratory relief to redress alleged class-wide injuries caused by deficiencies in the City’s administration—and the New York State Office of Children and Family Services’ oversight—of foster care. The district court denied Plaintiffs’ motion for class certification. Plaintiffs appealed, arguing that the district court erred in its analysis of the commonality and typicality requirements under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(a). The Second Circuit vacated the district court’s order denying class certification and remanded. The court held that the district court erred in its analysis of commonality and typicality under Rule 23. The court explained that the district court did not determine whether commonality and typicality exist with respect to each of Plaintiffs’ claims. Instead, it concluded that commonality was lacking as to all alleged harms because “Plaintiffs’ allegations do not flow from unitary, non-discretionary policies.” The court held that this approach was legal error requiring remand. Further, the court wrote that here, the district court largely relied upon its commonality analysis to support its finding that typicality was not satisfied. Thus, the deficiencies identified in its commonality inquiry can also be found in its handling of typicality. View "Elisa W. v. City of New York" on Justia Law
United States v. A.R.
The First Circuit affirmed in part and reversed in part the order of the district court ordering A.R., who was adjudicated delinquent in a proceeding under the Federal Juvenile Delinquency Act (FJDA), 18 U.S.C. 5031-5042, detained in a juvenile institution until he reached the age of twenty-one, followed by a term of juvenile delinquent supervision, holding that remand was required.A.R., who was born in 2003, was adjudicated delinquent pursuant to his admission of aiding and abetting an attempted robbery of a motor vehicle and five carjackings, each of which would have been a violation of 18 U.S.C. 2119 had A.R. been an adult. On appeal, A.R. primarily challenged the district court's order of a detention period rather than a probationary one. The First Circuit affirmed as to the court's imposition of detention but reversed and remanded as to two other matters, holding (1) A.R.'s disposition was both procedurally and substantively reasonable; (2) the district court erred in failing to recommend that A.R. be placed in a local detention facility; and (3) the district court erred in imposing a term of detention and supervision that together exceeded the applicable statutory maximum. View "United States v. A.R." on Justia Law
South Carolina v. Miller
Petitioner Robert Miller, III was convicted of murdering eighty-six-year-old Willie Johnson. Following the murder, Petitioner—who was fifteen years old at the time—confessed four times: twice to his close friends and twice to law enforcement. All four confessions were admitted at trial, three without objection. This appeal centered around the voluntariness of Petitioner's fourth and final confession to two agents of the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED). After examining the totality of the circumstances surrounding the fourth confession, the South Carolina Supreme Court held that Petitioner's free will was not overborne, and his confession was voluntary. It therefore affirmed. View "South Carolina v. Miller" on Justia Law
Marriage of C.D. & G.D.
C.D. (Mother) appeals from the trial court’s post-judgment order granting a request from G.D. (Father) that she enroll their minor daughters in public school. Mother contends the order must be vacated because, without a change in custody, Father has no decision-making authority regarding their daughters’ education. The Second Appellate District agreed with Mother and vacated the order. The court explained that A parent with “sole legal custody” has “the right and the responsibility to make the decisions relating to the health, education, and welfare of a child.” Here, Father requested a say in his daughters’ education by asking the trial court to order Mother to enroll them in public school. But because Mother has sole legal custody of the girls, Father has no right or responsibility concerning their education. To obtain those, Father had to secure joint legal custody by showing a significant change in circumstances. The court explained that the trial court erred when it granted Father’s request for an order directing Mother to send their daughters to public school. Prior to issuing such an order, the trial court was required to find that Father demonstrated a change in circumstances warranting modification of its initial custody order. Not making that finding was an abuse of discretion. View "Marriage of C.D. & G.D." on Justia Law
In re Jerry R.
A.R. (Father) and S.R. (Mother) appealed from the juvenile court’s orders terminating their parental rights to three of their children, under Welfare and Institutions Code section 366.26.1. Father’s sole claim, joined by Mother, is that because Stanislaus County Community Services Agency (agency) failed to conduct a proper, adequate, and duly diligent inquiry into whether the children are or may be Indian children, the juvenile court erred when it found that the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 (ICWA) did not apply. The Fifth Appellate District conditionally reversed the juvenile court’s finding that ICWA does not apply. The court explained that Section 224.2, subdivision (b), imposes on the county welfare department a broad duty to inquire whether a child placed into the temporary custody of the county under section 306 is or may be an Indian child. The court explained that at issue is whether a child taken into protective custody by warrant under section 340, subdivision (a) or (b) falls within the ambit of section 306, subdivision (a)(1). The court explained that based on the plain language of the statutes, it agrees with Delila D. that the answer is yes and, therefore, the inquiry mandated under section 224.2, subdivision (b), applies. The court further concluded that the juvenile court erred in finding the agency conducted a proper, adequate, and duly diligent inquiry and that the error is prejudicial, which necessitates a conditional reversal of the court’s finding that ICWA does not apply and a limited remand so that an inquiry that comports with section 224.2, subdivision (b), may be conducted. View "In re Jerry R." on Justia Law
Marriage of C.D. & G.D.
G.D. (Father) appealed the judgment approving the dissolution of his marriage to C.D. (Mother), granting her full custody of their minor daughters and barring all visitation. Father contends the custody and visitation orders attached to the judgment should be vacated. Father contends the custody and visitation orders should be vacated because there was insufficient evidence that he sexually abused F.D. and S.D. To him, only an evaluation conducted pursuant to section 3118 could provide the evidentiary basis necessary to permit the trial court to find that he abused his daughters. The Second Appellate District affirmed. The court explained that There are several problems with Father’s contentions. First, the trial court’s decision not to order a section 3118 evaluation was made, at least in part, at Father’s behest. Second, even if Father had not invited any error, he could not show prejudice. Third, no section 3118 evaluation was required here. If a trial court appoints a child custody evaluator and “determines that there is a serious allegation of child sexual abuse,” it must order a section 3118 evaluation. The court explained that the trial court below did not determine there had been a serious allegation of child sexual abuse. It was thus not required to order a section 3118 evaluation. Fourth, Section 3118 requires a trial court to order an evaluation when it appoints a child custody evaluator and determines there has been a serious allegation of child sexual abuse. But section 3118 also grants a court the discretion to order an evaluation when abuse allegations arise in other contexts. View "Marriage of C.D. & G.D." on Justia Law
In re V.C.
In December 2019, the Alameda County Social Services Agency filed a petition (Welfare and Institutions Code 300(b)(1) and (j)) regarding infant V.C., with allegations that his mother tested positive for methamphetamine at V.C.’s birth, resulting in V.C. experiencing withdrawal symptoms. A social worker had spoken with both parents, who each “denied any Native American ancestry.” Both parents completed and filed “Parental Notification of Indian Status” forms, checking the box: “I have no Indian ancestry as far as I know,” under penalty of perjury.In March 2020, the juvenile court found the allegations true, declared the children dependents, removed them from parental custody, and ordered reunification services, concluding that each child “is not an Indian child and no further notice is required under” the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) (25 U.S.C. 1901). In February 2021, the court terminated reunification services, set a section 366.26 hearing, and again concluded that ICWA did not apply. On remand for a new hearing concerning the beneficial relationship exception, the juvenile court again terminated parental rights, found “ICWA does not apply,” and identified adoption as the children’s permanent plan.The court of appeal conditionally reversed. The agency failed to comply with ICWA by not asking available extended family members about possible Indian ancestry. View "In re V.C." on Justia Law
In re N.F.
Defendant-Mother appealed the juvenile court’s order denying her post-permanency Welfare and Institutions Code section 388 petition that asked the court to grant her reunification services with her thirteen-year-old son N.F. The juvenile court terminated its dependency jurisdiction over N.F. in January 2021 after appointing paternal uncle as his legal guardian. Mother does not contest the merits of the court’s denial of her section 388 petition. Rather, she argued the juvenile court’s legal guardianship order must be reversed because the court and the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services (Department) did not comply with their initial inquiry duties under the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 (ICWA) and related California law.The Second Appellate District affirmed. The court explained that Mother had the right to appeal from the court’s legal guardianship order, including the court’s implicit finding it continued to have no reason to know N.F. was an Indian child and the Department had satisfied its duty of ICWA inquiry. However, the time to so do expired many months ago. The court explained that Mother cannot now use her appeal from her post-permanency section 388 petition to challenge the legal guardianship order and findings made at the section 366.26 hearing—including the finding that ICWA did not apply. Further, the court explained that as the juvenile court did not vacate its order terminating its dependency jurisdiction over N.F. when it heard Mother’s section 388 petition—and a section 300 petition was not being filed on N.F.’s behalf—the court’s and the Department’s continuing duty of inquiry under section 224.2 was not implicated. View "In re N.F." on Justia Law
Idaho v. John Doe
After methamphetamine was found on his person during a pat search, Appellant John Doe was charged with felony possession of a controlled substance and two related misdemeanors under the Juvenile Corrections Act (“JCA”). Doe moved to suppress this evidence as the product of an unlawful search under the Fourth Amendment, which the magistrate court denied. Doe then sought permission to appeal the magistrate court’s decision to the district court, sitting in its intermediate appellate capacity. When the magistrate court denied permissive appeal, an intermediate appeal was filed with the district court. The district court dismissed Doe’s appeal, concluding that a permissive appeal was not available to Doe because he had not yet been adjudicated of any violation under the JCA. Doe then appealed to the Idaho Supreme Court, arguing: (1) he was “within the purview” of the JCA; and (2) Idaho Code section 20-528 permitted an appeal as a matter of right to a juvenile defendant whose motion to suppress has been denied. The Idaho Supreme Court concluded the plain language of the statute did not permit a juvenile defendant to file this type of interlocutory appeal. Accordingly, the Court affirmed the district court’s dismissal of John Doe’s interlocutory appeal. View "Idaho v. John Doe" on Justia Law
State v. Johnson
The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the district court denying Appellant's motion to transfer his criminal case to youth court, holding that the district court abused its discretion by failing to consider Appellant's mitigating and unrequited evidence supporting transfer.Defendant had turned seventeen years old one month before the incident leading to his charges of sexual intercourse without consent, sexual abuse of children, and sexual assault. After a hearing to determine if the case should be transferred to youth court, the district court concluded that transferring the case would be in Defendant's best interests and would serve the interests of community protection but that the transfer should be denied based on the severity of the offense. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the district court misapprehended the evidence presented by Defendant suggesting that the nature of the offense did not warrant district court prosecution and, instead, impermissibly reached its conclusion based solely on the egregious facts of the offense. View "State v. Johnson" on Justia Law