Justia Juvenile Law Opinion Summaries

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Wilkes was convicted for the attempted murder of Christopher and related crimes. The court of appeal affirmed the conviction but modified the judgment to strike an enhancement for a prior one-year prison term for a grand theft conviction and award presentence conduct credits. The court upheld other enhancements and rejected Wilkes’s challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence that he intended to kill Christopher and that the attempted murder was premeditated and deliberate. There was evidence that Wilkes purposefully fired a gun into the front passenger window of a car, knowing Christopher was in the driver’s seat, and that he fired a subsequent shot at Christopher after Christopher exited the car. The court also rejected Wilkes’s equal protection challenge to a statutory provision rendering youth offenders sentenced pursuant to the Three Strikes Law (Pen. Code 667(b)–(j), 1170.12), such as Wilkes, ineligible for youth offender parole hearings. (section 3051(h).) View "People v. Wilkes" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeal affirmed the district court's restitution order against defendant, then age 16, who admitted to making criminal threats in violation of Penal Code 422. The court held that the juvenile court erred by applying the presumption of causality contained in Penal Code section 1202.4, subdivision (f)(4)(A) to victim restitution ordered under section 730.6. However, the court rejected defendant's claim that his conduct was not shown to be a substantial factor in an injury to the so-called derivative victims. The court also held that the juvenile court properly imposed interest on the amount of restitution. View "In re S.E." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the order of the juvenile court committing a juvenile for substance use disorder treatment pursuant to Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 123, 35, holding that the juvenile was committed on insufficient evidence. After a hearing, the juvenile court judge committed the juvenile for ninety days for treatment. The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the commitment order, holding (1) appeals from an order of commitment pursuant to Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 123, 35 are not moot solely because the individual is no longer committed; (2) taking into account a juvenile's youth necessarily is required as part of the individualized assessment demanded by such petitions; (3) it was not clearly erroneous to find that the juvenile had a substance use disorder; (4) the evidence in the record was insufficient to support a finding of imminent and "very substantial risk of physical impairment or injury" as required by Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 123, 1; and (5) due process requires a judge to consider less restrictive alternatives in all commitment hearings for substance use disorder treatment. View "In re a Minor" on Justia Law

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When E.D. was 17 years old, a high school teacher began engaging in sex with her in his classroom. The situation was discovered after several months. The teacher admitted engaging in sexual intercourse with E.D. 10-20 times while she was a minor. The principal had previously disciplined the teacher for inappropriate contact with a student but the conduct had not been reported to authorities; no steps were taken to monitor the teacher’s contact with other female students. E.D. brought claims against the teacher for sexual abuse, against the school defendants for negligence and breach of statutory duties in failing to adequately supervise teachers and protect students, and against all the defendants for intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress; her foster mother joined in the claims of intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress. They alleged that they were not required to present a claim to the School District under the Government Claims Act (Gov. Code 810) due to the exemption for claims of sexual abuse of a minor, section 905(m). The District had enacted its own claim presentation requirement, purportedly overriding section 905(m) The court of appeal reversed the dismissal of E.D.’s causes of action. The Legislature has consistently expanded the ability of childhood sexual abuse victims to seek compensation but it is not clear that it intended to provide relatives the same rights as direct victims. View "Coats v. New Haven Unified School District" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court approved the court of appeal's decision to uphold Defendant's sentence and disapproved of several recent court decisions to the extent they held that resentencing is required for all juvenile offenders serving a sentence longer than twenty years without the opportunity for early release based on demonstrated maturity and rehabilitation, holding that Defendant in this case did not establish a violation of Miller v. Alabama, 567 U.S. 460 (2012). Defendant was charged with the first-degree murder of her mother committed when she was age seventeen. Defendant pled guilty to second-degree murder in exchange for a forty-year sentence. Defendant later challenged her sentence as cruel and unusual punishment under Miller. The trial court denied Defendant's petition. The court of appeal affirmed but certified conflict with several decisions of other district courts. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that because Defendant did not establish that her sentence was a life sentence or the functional equivalent of a life sentence Defendant failed to establish that her sentence violated the Eighth Amendment, Miller, or its equivalent on a juvenile homicide offender whose youth has not been taken into account at sentencing. View "Pedroza v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals dismissing Appellant's petition for a writ of habeas corpus, holding that Appellant's petition was barred by the doctrine of res judicata. At the time he was a seventeen-year-old juvenile, Appellant was subjected to mandatory bindover to adult court regarding several charges. Appellant later pleaded guilty to murder with a firearm specification. The court of appeals erred, rejecting Appellant's argument that he had been entitled to an amenability hearing in the juvenile court before his case could be transferred to the adult court. Appellant later filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus arguing that he was entitled to release because the juvenile court failed to conduct an amenability hearing and make the required findings to transfer his case to the adult court. The court of appeals dismissed the habeas petition. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that because Appellant's petition again challenged the validity of his bindover proceedings his petition was barred by the doctrine of res judicata. View "Moore v. Wainwright" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court imposing a seventeen and one-half year mandatory minimum prison term before parole eligibility on Defendant's second resentencing for attempted murder during a home invasion after considering the youth sentencing factors under State v. Roby, 897 N.W.2d 127 (Iowa 2017), holding that there was no error in the sentence and that counsel was not constitutionally ineffective. Defendant was seventeen years old at the time of the crime and was since resentenced twice, once in 2014 and once in 2018, as caselaw on juvenile sentencing evolved. In this appeal from his latest resentencing, Defendant argued that the district court failed to follow the Supreme Court's 2017 mandate to apply Roby and that his counsel was constitutionally ineffective for failing to retain a defense expert on the youth sentencing factors. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the district court did not abuse its discretion in applying the Miller/Lyle/Roby factors and deciding to impose the mandatory minimum sentence; and (2) Defendant's defense counsel had no duty to present a defense expert to testify regarding the Roby factors where Defendant decided to forgo retaining a defense expert. View "State v. Majors" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff T.C. sought an order of protection against stalking or sexual assault (SSA order) against defendant L.D. Plaintiff was seventeen at the time she sought the order; defendant was thirteen. The court dismissed plaintiff’s complaint without reaching the merits, holding that the statute pertaining to SSA orders did not permit claims against a minor defendant. The Vermont Supreme Court reversed, finding nothing in the SSA statute that expressly limited who may be the subject of an SSA complaint. View "T.C. v. L.D." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court dismissed these consolidated appeals in which Appellants argued that the county court erred by concluding it lacked jurisdiction to decide motions to transfer their felony criminal cases to juvenile court, holding that the county court lacked jurisdiction, and therefore, the Supreme Court also lacked jurisdiction. The State filed complaints in county court charging Appellants with felonies. Appellants filed motions asking the county court to transfer their respective cases to juvenile court. In both cases, the county court issued orders stating that it did not have jurisdiction to rule on a motion to transfer to juvenile court. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the county court correctly found that it lacked jurisdiction over Appellants' motions to transfer to juvenile court; and (2) because the county court lacked jurisdiction over the motions to transfer, this Court lacked jurisdiction over these appeals. View "State v. A.D." on Justia Law

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J.H., a 14-year-old pretrial detainee, was placed in segregated housing in Williamson County’s juvenile detention facility after other juveniles alleged that he threatened to assault them. J.H. suffers from Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorder Associated with Streptococcal Infections (PANDAS), which often manifests in psychiatric symptoms. In a suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983, J.H. alleged that his placement in segregated housing for a month in 2013 amounted to unconstitutional punishment; that a detention monitor, Cruz, sexually assaulted him during this period, as a result of Williamson County’s failure to train Cruz; and that during that period, officials failed to provide adequate medical care. The Sixth Circuit affirmed summary judgment in favor of the defendants. The official is entitled to qualified immunity. While the punishment imposed on J.H. was excessive in relation to the verbal threats he made, the right at issue was not established with sufficient specificity as to hold it clearly established as of 2013. J.H. met with and received medication from multiple medical professionals, none of whom requested that the facility make any accommodations for J.H.’s medical needs. J.H. has not shown a “direct causal connection” between the failure to train Cruz and his alleged assault; it is far from clear that any lack of training was the “moving force” behind Cruz’s decision to sexually assault a child. View "J.H. v. Williamson County" on Justia Law