Justia Juvenile Law Opinion Summaries
Dampier v. State of Mississippi
In 2004, De’Andre Dampier was convicted of a capital murder committed during an auto-dealership robbery when he was 16 years old. He was sentenced to life in prison without parole, which was the only statutory sentence available at the time. In 2012, the United States Supreme Court ruled that imposing mandatory life-without-parole sentences on juveniles violates the Eighth Amendment. Based on this ruling, the Supreme Court of Mississippi granted Dampier’s request to seek post-conviction relief from his life-without-parole sentence. However, before the trial court addressed any of the factors from the US Supreme Court decision, it vacated Dampier’s life-without-parole sentence. Dampier then requested that a jury be convened to decide if he should be sentenced to life with or without parole, but the trial judge denied this request. After a hearing in which the trial judge considered the factors from the US Supreme Court decision, the judge reimposed a sentence of life in prison without parole.The Supreme Court of Mississippi affirmed the decisions of the lower courts, holding that Dampier did not have a statutory right to be sentenced by a jury. The court emphasized that the decision to be made by the trial court was whether Dampier was entitled to post-conviction relief from his life-without-parole sentence, imposed for a crime committed when he was a juvenile. The court also agreed with the lower courts that the trial judge did not err by denying Dampier’s request for jury sentencing. Furthermore, the court agreed with the lower courts that the trial court did not err by ruling that, after a careful consideration of the factors from the US Supreme Court decision, life without parole was an appropriate sentence for Dampier’s crime. View "Dampier v. State of Mississippi" on Justia Law
Dept. of Human Services v. T. J. N.
In the case before the Supreme Court of the State of Oregon, the parents of three children under the jurisdiction of the Department of Human Services (DHS) appealed the juvenile court's decision to change the placement preference for their children from the mother's home to foster care. However, while the appeal was pending in the Court of Appeals, the juvenile court issued additional decisions determining that substitute care was still the appropriate placement preference for the children. The Court of Appeals dismissed the appeal as moot due to these subsequent judgments, ruling that it could not conclude without speculation that the challenged judgments would have a practical effect on the parents' rights. The Supreme Court of the State of Oregon reversed the decision of the Court of Appeals, finding that the Court of Appeals had incorrectly placed the burden on the parents to prove that the appeal was not moot, rather than on DHS to prove that it was. However, the Supreme Court found that the juvenile court's subsequent dismissal of the dependency cases altogether did render the appeals moot, as the parents and the children were no longer wards of the court and the original substitute-care placement determination no longer had a practical effect on the parties. The Supreme Court therefore dismissed the appeals as moot. View "Dept. of Human Services v. T. J. N." on Justia Law
In re E.S.
In the case before the Supreme Court of Ohio, the issue was the quantum of evidence required to satisfy the probable-cause standard for determining whether a juvenile-court offender may be bound over to adult court. The case arose from an incident where a juvenile, E.S., was in a stolen car during a police chase, with his friend E.M., who was driving. After the car crashed, E.M. was found dead from a gunshot wound. A gun was found under the car’s passenger seat where E.S. had been seated, and E.S.'s DNA was found on the trigger and the grip of the gun. A bullet that had been fired from the gun was found in the driver's side front door. E.S. was charged in juvenile court with multiple offenses relating to the stolen car, the gun, and E.M.’s death.The juvenile court found probable cause for some charges but not for involuntary manslaughter or reckless homicide. The state appealed the juvenile court's decision. The Court of Appeals affirmed the juvenile court’s judgment. The state then appealed to the Supreme Court of Ohio.The Supreme Court of Ohio reversed the judgment of the Court of Appeals. The court held that the state had presented sufficient evidence to establish probable cause to believe that E.S. had committed the offense of involuntary manslaughter. The court found that the state’s evidence, both circumstantial and direct, was sufficient to establish probable cause. The court held that the juvenile court and the Court of Appeals had erroneously held the state to a higher burden than required for establishing probable cause in a bindover proceeding. The case was remanded back to the juvenile court for further proceedings. View "In re E.S." on Justia Law
In re K.B.
Mother gave birth to K.B. in August 2022. Both she and K.B. tested positive for amphetamines, methamphetamines, and marijuana at the hospital, triggering a referral to the Department, which placed K.B. in temporary protective custody. Law enforcement subsequently arrested both parents on out-of-county warrants, taking one-year-old K. into protective custody. The Department filed a dependency petition (Welf. & Inst. Code, 300(b),(j)) and reported that the social worker had contacted the maternal grandmother as part of the Department’s inquiry into Minors’ Native American ancestry and that: “There are relatives to consider for placement at time of detention.” The Minors were placed in a non-relative foster home. A subsequent report stated that Mother “was unable to identify any relatives to be considered for placement”; the maternal grandmother and other relatives reside in Mississippi. Father stated that he has relatives in Arkansas that may be options in the future but he was unable to identify any relatives in California.” The paternal grandmother was also contacted.At the contested hearing, the parties did not raise the investigation regarding relative placement. The juvenile court declared Minors dependents, ordered that the Department offer reunification services, and found that the Department exercised due diligence to identify, locate, and contact relatives. The court of appeal reversed in part. There is no evidence that the Department exercised due diligence in identifying and investigating Minors’ adult relatives, or that any relatives received the required notice detailing options for participation. View "In re K.B." on Justia Law
Oregon v. C. P.
C.P. struck the victim on her head with a mallet, causing significant injuries. The issue on review was whether the juvenile court misconstrued the governing statute, ORS 419A.258, in ordering disclosure of confidential records in youth’s file to the victim before youth’s delinquency dispositional hearing. The Oregon Court of Appeals concluded that the victim was unable to show that disclosure was “necessary to serve a legitimate need” of the requesting party, as required by ORS 419A.258(7). The Oregon Supreme Court concluded after review of the text, context, and legislative history of ORS 419A.258 that the statute, properly construed, gave juvenile courts some discretion in weighing the interests at stake before determining whether and to what extent disclosure was necessary to serve a legitimate need of the person seeking disclosure under the circumstances of a given case. The Supreme Court rejected the Court of Appeals’ interpretation of what was necessary to serve a victim’s legitimate need and concluded that the juvenile court in this case acted within the range of discretion granted by the statute in ordering disclosure to the victim. Accordingly, the Court of Appeals' judgment was reversed and the juvenile court's order was affirmed. court. View "Oregon v. C. P." on Justia Law
In re Kayla W.
Kayla (born in September 2017) came to the attention of the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) after Defendant (mother) was arrested in May 2019. After mother’s arrest, officers found one-year-old Kayla in a motel room, alone. Mother, who was born in California, told an officer and a social worker that she had been living in Nevada since 2017 but had just moved back to California in May 2019 to find work and a place to live. Defendant appealed from an order terminating parental rights to her child, Kayla W. Mother contends that that Nevada’s relinquishment of jurisdiction was conditioned on Kayla being placed with maternal grandfather, so once Kayla was removed from maternal grandfather in December 2021 and placed with another caregiver, the court had to contact Nevada so that it could reassert jurisdiction. Mother argued that the court failed to comply with the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA, Fam. Code, Section 3400, et seq.) The Second Appellate District affirmed. The court first held that mother forfeited the UCCJEA issue because she never objected to Nevada’s declination of jurisdiction, California’s acceptance of jurisdiction, or raised any jurisdictional issue when Kayla was removed from maternal grandfather’s care. Further, the court explained that Nevada did not and could not impose a jurisdictional condition precedent. Moreover, Sections 3429 and 3422 did not require the court to consult Nevada. View "In re Kayla W." on Justia Law
In re Interest of Sayrah P.
The Supreme Court dismissed sixteen-year-old Sayrah P.'s appeal from an order for electronic monitoring and an order for staff secure detention, holding that this appeal lacked a final, appealable order.A juvenile probation officer found that Sayrah qualified for an alternative to detention and sent her home with an order for electronic monitoring. Two days after the initial screening the juvenile court held a hearing and ordered that Sayrah's electronic monitoring continue. Because Sayrah was noncompliant with her electronic monitoring she was ordered a month later to "staff secure" detention. Sayrah appealed. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal for lack of a final, appealable order, holding that the orders appealed from did not affect a substantial right, and therefore, the orders were not appealable. View "In re Interest of Sayrah P." on Justia Law
New Mexico v. Antonio M.
A jury found that Child-Respondent Antonio M. (Child) committed felony murder, attempted armed robbery, conspiracy to commit armed robbery, child abuse, and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. The State charged Child as a participant in the fatal shooting of Fabian Lopez (Victim) at Frenger Park in Las Cruces. Uncontested evidence at Child’s adjudicatory hearing established that M.M. and two other participants killed Victim in his car in the course of a drug deal. During opening statements and closing arguments, defense counsel’s theory of the case was that the State could not present sufficient evidence of Child’s participation in the crime and that the robbery and resulting homicide were unplanned and unintended results of a simple drug purchase. Defense counsel did not challenge Child’s presence in the car that transported M.M. to and from the park. On appeal, Child challenged the admission of three in-court identifications under federal and state due process. The Court of Appeals reversed for plain error, finding that the in-court identifications were impermissibly suggestive and thereby violated Child’s due process right to a fair trial under the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution. The New Mexico Supreme Court determine that identity was not at issue regarding the testimony of the three relevant witnesses and thus that Child’s due process rights were not violated by the relevant in-court identifications. Accordingly, the Supreme Court reversed the Court of Appeals. View "New Mexico v. Antonio M." on Justia Law
Louisiana in the interest of D.W.
The Louisiana Supreme Court granted the State’s application to review the court of appeal’s determination that the State failed to prove that 16-year-old D.W. was the person who entered a sheriff’s vehicle and stole firearms from inside it, and therefore that the evidence was insufficient to support the delinquency adjudication for burglary involving a firearm, La. R.S. 14:62, and theft of a firearm, La. R.S. 14:67.15. After reviewing the record, the Supreme Court found the State presented sufficient evidence that D.W. was a principal, in accordance with La. R.S. 14:24, to these felony-grade delinquent acts regardless of whether he personally entered the vehicle and took the firearms that were inside it himself. Therefore, the Court reversed the ruling of the court of appeal and reinstated the delinquency adjudication and dispositions imposed by the juvenile court, which were then affirmed. View "Louisiana in the interest of D.W." on Justia Law
State v. Erdman
The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the juvenile court granting the State's delinquency petition against Defendant and its motion to waive jurisdiction to allow for Defendant's prosecution as an adult, holding that the juvenile court did not abuse its discretion in granting the waiver and that there was sufficient evidence to support Defendant's conviction.One month after his seventeenth birthday Defendant committed second-degree sexual abuse. The juvenile court issued an order waiving jurisdiction, concluding that there were not reasonable prospectives for rehabilitating Defendant if the juvenile court retained jurisdiction and that the waiver was in the bests interests of Defendant and the community. Defendant was found guilty after a jury trial. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) a rational fact finder could determine beyond a reasonable doubt that Defendant committed second-degree sexual abuse based on the evidence presented; and (2) the juvenile court's waiver decision was supported by the evidence and reasonable. View "State v. Erdman" on Justia Law