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J.B., a juvenile, appealed the Superior Court’s order affirming the juvenile court's order adjudicating him delinquent. J.B. was charged for the first-degree murder and homicide of an unborn child in connection with the shooting death of his stepmother inside their family home on the morning of February 20, 2009. J.B. argued that there was insufficient evidence to support his adjudication of delinquency beyond a reasonable doubt for these offenses, and, alternatively, that the juvenile court’s adjudication was against the weight of the evidence. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court's careful review of the evidentiary record in this matter compelled its conclusion that the evidence introduced at his adjudicatory hearing was indeed insufficient, as a matter of law, to establish his delinquency for these offenses beyond a reasonable doubt. As a result, the Court reversed the Superior Court’s order which affirmed the juvenile court’s order of disposition for these offenses. View "In The Interest of J.B.; Appeal of: J.B." on Justia Law

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In the sexual assault trial of fourteen-year-old “Alex,” the family court admitted into evidence the "tender-years" exception to the hearsay rule: the video-recorded statement that seven-year-old “John” gave to police, in which he alleged that Alex had sexually touched him on a school bus. John, who suffered from severe developmental disabilities, who during out-of-court and in-court questioning was unable to distinguish between fantasy and reality, and who was declared incompetent as a witness by the court, was permitted to testify pursuant to the incompetency proviso of N.J.R.E. 803(c)(27). The State recalled John to the stand. He had difficulty answering simple questions. For example, he stated “It’s right,” if the prosecutor referred to a spider as a flower, and in response to a leading question, indicated that the color black might be red. John stated that Alex, whom he identified in the courtroom, touched him on “my clothes, my pee-pee and my butt.” However, John stated that a little boy named Alex sat near him and that the little boys and big boys were separated on the bus. The family court adjudicated Alex delinquent. Alex appealed. The Appellate Division held that John was effectively unavailable for cross-examination, and therefore the admission of his statement to the detective violated Alex’s federal confrontation rights. The panel did not address any state-law evidentiary claims and remanded to the family court to assess whether the State’s remaining evidence was sufficient to prove the adjudication beyond a reasonable doubt. The Court granted the State’s petition for certification. The New Jersey Supreme Court reversed Alex’s delinquency adjudication on state-law grounds, concluding John's video-recorded statement was not admissible because the statement did not possess a sufficient probability of trustworthiness to justify its introduction at trial under N.J.R.E. 803(c)(27). Striking the recorded statement from the record did not leave sufficient evidence in the record to support, on any rational basis, the adjudication of delinquency against Alex. View "New Jersey in the Interest of A.R." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court overruled the State’s exception in this exception proceeding challenging the juvenile court’s rulings on a motion to recuse and a motion to join the underlying case with that of another minor. In a delinquency proceeding, the county court, sitting as a juvenile court, found that the State failed to prove the allegations against J.K., the juvenile in this case, and dismissed the proceedings. The State appealed, arguing that the juvenile court erred when the presiding judge failed to recuse himself after evidence was presented showing bias and partiality an erred when it failed to join the cases of J.K.’s and J.G., another minor. The Supreme Court overruled the State’s exception, holding (1) the juvenile court’s denial of the motion for recusal was not error; and (2) the juvenile court did not abuse its discretion in denying the State’s motion for joinder. View "In re Interest of J.K." on Justia Law

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Juvenile offenders’ sentences of life with the possibility of parole after twenty-five years do not violate the Eighth Amendment of the United States Constitution as set forth in Graham v. Florida, 560 U.S. 48 (2010), Miller v. Alabama, 567 U.S. 460 (2012), and Virginia v. LeBlanc, 137 S. Ct. 1726 (2017), and therefore, such juvenile offenders are not entitled to resentencing under Fla. Stat. 921.1402. Defendant was convicted of first-degree premeditated murder and armed robbery, crimes he committed when he was sixteen years old. Defendant was sentenced to life imprisonment with the possibility of parole after twenty-five years for the murder conviction. Defendant later filed a motion for postconviction relief pursuant to Fla. R. Crim. P. 3.850, asserting that he was entitled to relief under Miller. The trial court denied the motion, concluding that Miller was inapplicable because Defendant had the opportunity for release on parole. The court of appeal reversed, concluding that Atwell v. State, 197 So. 3d 1040 (Fla. 2016), required resentencing even where the offender may later obtain parole. The Supreme Court quashed the decision below, holding that juvenile offenders’ sentences of life with the possibility of parole after twenty-five years under Florida’s parole system do not violate Graham, and therefore, such offenders are not entitled to resentencing. View "State v. Michel" on Justia Law

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Upon revocation of a youthful offender’s probation for a substantive violation, the trial court is authorized to either impose another youthful offender sentence, with no minimum mandatory, or to impose an adult Criminal Punishment Code sentence requiring imposition of any minimum mandatory term of incarceration associated with the offense of conviction. Defendant was eighteen years old when he pleaded guilty to robbery with a firearm, which carried a ten-year minimum mandatory sentence. The trial court sentenced Defendant as a youthful offender under the Florida Youthful Offender Act to four years in prison and two years of probation. After Defendant violated his probation the trial court revoked his probation and sentenced him on the underlying offense of robbery with a firearm to fifteen years in prison, with a ten-year minimum mandatory sentence. The court of appeal affirmed. The Supreme Court quashed the decision below and remanded the case for resentencing, holding that where a defendant is initially sentenced to probation or community control as a youthful offender and the trial court later revokes supervision for a substantive violation and imposes a sentence above the youthful offender cap under Fla. Stat. 958.14 and 948.06(2), the court is required to impose a minimum mandatory sentence that would have originally applied to the offense. View "Eustache v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the separate juvenile court of Lancaster County that the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) arrange and pay for Paxton H., a juvenile in its care and custody, to receive mental health services at a facility in Kansas, holding that the juvenile court’s order was in Paxton’s best interests. On appeal, DHHS acknowledged that Paxton required certain services but that it was not in his best interests to participate in a transition program several hours from his parents’ home. Instead, DHHS asserted that it would be better for Paxton to receive local services in Nebraska. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding that the juvenile court did not err in ordering DHHS to arrange and pay for Paxton to receive services at the Kansas facility. View "In re Paxton H." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court reversed the judgment of a single justice of the court denying the Commonwealth’s petition for relief from an interlocutory order of the juvenile court, holding that the single justice abused her discretion in declining to employ the court’s power of superintendence to rectify an error of the trial judge. After he was arrested an firearm-related charges, D.M., a juvenile, sought an order requiring the Commonwealth to disclose the identity of its informant and other related information. The judge allowed the juvenile’s motion, determining that the Commonwealth had properly asserted an informant privilege and that D.M. had adequately challenged the assertion of the privilege. The Commonwealth filed a Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 211, 3 petition seeking reversal of the interlocutory ruling and arguing that the judge erred in allowing the juvenile’s motion. The single justice denied the petition. The Supreme Judicial Court reversed, holding that the judge’s analysis was erroneous, and the analytical error should not stand. View "Commonwealth v. D.M." on Justia Law

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Minor A.R. (the Minor) challenged a dispositional order committing him to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, Division of Juvenile Justice (hereafter, DJJ). At the time of the disposition hearing, the Minor was 18 years old. His history with the juvenile justice system began when he was 13 years old, and a petition was first filed against him. In 2012, he admitted two counts of residential burglary. and was declared a ward. Since then, he would be charged with various property crimes, culminating with burglary, robbery and use of a deadly weapon. He admitted to several probation violations, leading to the commitment order at issue here. The Minor argued the juvenile court abused its discretion in committing him to DJJ, on the grounds there was no substantial evidence that a less restrictive placement would be inappropriate or ineffective. He also argued the court erred by applying his custody credits to the overall maximum term of confinement, instead of the lower maximum term set by the court. In a supplemental brief, Minor argued there was no substantial evidence of probable benefit from the DJJ commitment, citing a recently decided case, In re Carlos J., 22 Cal.App.5th 1 (2018). The Court of Appeal rejected these contentions and affirmed the judgment. View "In re A.R." on Justia Law

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A juvenile court has the authority to require restitution for losses beyond those that resulted from the criminal conduct with which the minor is charged, if that restitution is a properly imposed condition of probation. The Court of Appeal affirmed the juvenile court's restitution order in this case, because the minor was placed on probation and because substantial evidence supported the juvenile court's findings that the minor was involved in the uncharged conduct and that holding him responsible for the full amount of loss to the victim furthered the purposes of probation. View "In re S.O." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court held that the juvenile court did not abuse its discretion in admitting uncharged acts as evidence in this juvenile proceeding. The State filed a delinquency petition in juvenile court charging N.J. with one count of battery and one count of harassment. N.J. objected to the admission of testimony regarding two uncharged acts. The district court overruled the objections based on the res gestae doctrine and adjudicated N.J. delinquent on both counts. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion in admitting the testimony regarding the two uncharged acts. View "In re N.J." on Justia Law