Justia Juvenile Law Opinion Summaries

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court rejecting Appellant's argument that a nineteen-month delay between his arrest and trial violated his constitutional right to a speedy trial, holding that Appellant failed to establish a violation of his constitutional right to a speedy trial as guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution and section 10 of the Kansas Constitution Bill of Rights. In support of his argument, Appellant contended that the court of appeals erred in ruling that the six months he spent in juvenile detention should not be counted in determining the length of the delay. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the right to a speedy trial applies in juvenile offender proceedings, and therefore, Appellant's period of juvenile detention should be included in a calculation of how long it took to get to trial; but (2) Appellant's constitutional right to a speedy trial was not violated, even considering the full nineteen-month delay rather than the thirteen months considered by the court of appeals. View "State v. Owens" on Justia Law

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A district court certified a question of law to the North Dakota Supreme Court on whether a married person under the age of eighteen was considered a “child” under the Juvenile Court Act. G.C.H. was charged with five crimes which allegedly occurred when G.C.H. was sixteen and seventeen years old. G.C.H. was married when the alleged crimes occurred and still was married. G.C.H. moved to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction due to his age, claiming the proper jurisdiction was in juvenile court. The district court denied the motion, finding G.C.H. was not a child under North Dakota law because he was married. The North Dakota Supreme Court has discretion to hear certified questions of law by the district court and may refuse to consider a certified question if it is frivolous, interlocutory in nature, or not dispositive of the issues before the district court. Here, neither a negative nor affirmative answer would be dispositive of the case. "If G.C.H. is a child under N.D.C.C. 27-20-02(4), the juvenile court still would need to determine whether he was delinquent. If G.C.H. is not a child under N.D.C.C. 27-20-02(4), a jury still would need to determine if G.C.H. is guilty of the alleged crimes. Therefore, the certified question is not determinative of the proceedings. We decline to answer the certified question." Notwithstanding the Supreme Court's declination to answering the certified question, it concluded this case justified exercising supervisory jurisdiction. The district court lacked subject matter jurisdiction over G.C.H. because was a “child” under N.D.C.C. 27-20-02(4)(b). The Supreme Court exercised its supervisory jurisdiction and reversed and remanded with directions to vacate the judgment and dismiss the case for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. View "North Dakota v. G.C.H." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court vacated a juvenile court judge's decision to adjudicate Juvenile delinquent for disturbing a school assembly, in violation of Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 272, 40 and declining to apply the amended statute, as appearing in St. 2018, ch. 69, 159, holding that St. 2018 ch. 69, 159 should be applied retroactively to cases pending on April 13, 2018. The complaint charging Defendant of disturbing a school assembly issued on February 20, 2018. On April 13, 2018, the Legislature struck the former statute in its entirety and replaced it. The juvenile court judge declined to apply the amended statute retroactively to Juvenile's conduct, and Juvenile was adjudicated delinquent. The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the delinquency adjudication and remanded the matter to the juvenile court for dismissal of the complaint, holding that because prospective application of St. 2018, ch. 69, 159 would be repugnant to the purpose of the Legislature's amendment of the school assembly statute, the statute applies retroactively to cases that were pending as of April 13, 2018. View "Commonwealth v. Ashe A." on Justia Law

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K.V.'s parents, A.V. and E.D., appealed a juvenile court order K.V. committed the delinquent acts of criminal trespass, fleeing or attempting to elude a peace officer, and reckless driving. They argued N.D.C.C. 12.1-22-03(3)(b) was void for vagueness and insufficient evidence supported finding K.V. committed criminal trespass, fled or attempted to elude a police officer, and drove recklessly. After review, the North Dakota Supreme Court determined that because the constitutional argument was not raised in the juvenile court and K.V. did not argue obvious error, the argument was forfeited. With regard to the trespassing charge, the Supreme Court determined an element of the offense was not proven, making the juvenile court’s finding K.V. committed criminal trespass is not supported by the evidence. That finding of delinquency was reversed. The juvenile court’s finding K.V. committed the delinquent acts of fleeing or attempting to elude a peace officer and reckless driving were supported by the evidence and, therefore, not clearly erroneous. The Court therefore affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded for entry of an appropriate order consistent with the Supreme Court's opinion. View "Interest of K.V." on Justia Law

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Defendant appealed his below-Guidelines 35 year sentence for his role in a carjacking with fellow gang members when he was 16 years old. The carjacking resulted in two murders. The Fifth Circuit held that defendant's sentence did not violate Miller v. Alabama, which prohibits sentencing a juvenile to mandatory life without parole, because defendant received a discretionary sentence under 18 U.S.C. 3553(a) rather than a mandatory sentence; he was sentenced to 35 years in prison rather than life without parole; and he failed to demonstrate a violation of Miller's substantive requirements. Furthermore, defendant was afforded far more than the minimum procedure necessary to conduct a proper section 3553(a) analysis, and Miller did not add procedural requirements over and above section 3553(a). The court also held that the district court did not abuse its discretion by applying two points to defendant's offense level for obstructing justice under USSG 3C1.1, and denying him a two point reduction for accepting responsibility under USSG 3E1.1. View "United States v. Sparks" on Justia Law

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In February 2017, five-year-old N.H. reported to her grandfather that E.S. “has me put his missy in my mouth.” N.H.’s grandfather asked her to repeat herself, with which she complied, but otherwise he did not inquire further. According to N.H.’s grandfather, “missy” was the term N.H. used at the time to describe a person's genitalia. He repeated N.H.’s disclosure to N.H.’s mother who then reported the allegations to law enforcement. The Louisiana Supreme Court granted the writ in this matter primarily to address the constitutionality of mandatory lifetime sex offender registration under R.S. 15:5421 as applied to a juvenile. E.S. was ultimately adjudicated delinquent for the first degree rape of a child under the age of thirteen years old. Finding that there was insufficient evidence to determine E.S. was fourteen years old at the time of the offense, and therefore mandatory disposition pursuant to Ch. C. art. 897.13 and R.S. 15:542 was inapplicable to the case at hand, the Supreme Court affirmed the adjudication of first degree rape, reversed the court of appeal’s determination that there was sufficient evidence to establish E.S.’s age, vacated the disposition of the district court and remanded for further proceedings. View "Louisiana in the Interest of E.S." on Justia Law

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A.N. was adjudicated delinquent for aggravated incest involving his sister, J.N. The petition charging A.N. alleged that J.N. was between ages seven and eleven, and that A.N. was between twelve and sixteen when the offending acts occurred. The investigation began in 2011 when J.N. submitted a poem she wrote for school expressing her anger at her older brother for molesting her. J.N.’s teacher passed the poem to a social worker who later confirmed with J.N. that she had been sexually abused by her brother. A.N. admitted that he and J.N. engaged in sexual acts but stated it was consensual. The Louisiana Supreme Court granted a writ in this matter primarily to address the constitutionality of mandatory lifetime sex offender registration as applied to a juvenile. Finding that A.N. did not have a right to file for post-conviction relief because he was not in custody at the time of his application, the Supreme Court affirmed the denial of A.N.’s post-conviction relief application by the juvenile court. Since A.N. was denied relief on the basis of custody, all remaining issues presented by his writ application, including whether R.S. 15:542 is unconstitutional under the Eighth Amendment, were moot. View "Louisiana in the Interest of A.N." on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeal affirmed the judgment entered after the juvenile court sustained a juvenile delinquency petition for assault with force likely to produce great bodily injury and attempted second degree robbery. The court held that the juvenile defendant's liability as an aider and abettor of the assault was based on his joint participation in an extremely dangerous situation that he helped create. In this case, defendant entered into the convenient store with his codefendant and escaped together; the jury could reasonably infer that they were jointly engaged in a robbery; and the natural and probable consequences of which included resistance by any of the defendants to avoid capture. The court rejected defendant's non-developed brain theory contention, and held that this contention confused criminal capacity with aider and abettor liability which focuses on whether a criminal act was a natural and probable consequence of another criminal act. View "People v. R.C." on Justia Law

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At 11:20 p.m., Gosuwin, carrying a pursed and holding an iPhone, saw two “young black men” wearing hoodies coming around the corner. One pushed her to the ground. The assailants pulled her bag and phone away, then continued on Market Street toward the Embarcadero. Gosuwin went to a nearby building, where a security guard called the police. Gosuwin did not see any weapons on her assailants. An officer used the “Find My iPhone app.” Gosuwin’s phone was “pinging” on the Embarcadero. Officer found Gosuwin’s purse there. At 11:29 p.m., officers received a dispatch call and went to the area to look for the “robbery suspects.” They noticed Jeremiah and J.A., both juveniles. One was wearing a hoodie. During the ensuing stop, an officer instructed Jeremiah to face a wall with his legs spread and his arms above his head. He did so. There was nothing about Jeremiah’s appearance, behavior, or actions to indicate that Jeremiah was armed and dangerous. A pat-down search revealed two phones in Jeremiah’s pocket. One phone’s background picture and password matched Gosuwin’s phone. The juvenile court denied a motion to suppress and ordered Jeremiah transferred to Alameda County where a previous wardship petition alleging second-degree robbery was pending. The court of appeal reversed the jurisdiction and disposition orders. The officer who conducted the pat-down did not present specific and articulable facts to support a reasonable suspicion that Jeremiah was armed and dangerous. The court declined to recognize a rule that would validate essentially any “pat-search” of a suspected robber who is lawfully detained following a report of a fresh robbery. View "In re Jeremiah S." on Justia Law

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A juvenile from a small village could not afford to travel to the site of his juvenile delinquency proceeding. His attorney with the Public Defender Agency (the Agency) filed a motion asking the superior court to require the Division of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) to pay the travel expenses for both the juvenile and one of his parents. The superior court denied the motion and required the Agency to pay the expenses. The court of appeals upheld the superior court’s decision, reasoning that the Agency’s authorizing statute could plausibly be interpreted to cover client travel expenses and that this reading was supported by administrative guidance in the form of two Attorney General opinions and a regulation governing reimbursements by the Office of Public Advocacy (OPA). The Alaska Supreme Court granted the Agency’s petition for hearing, asking the Agency and DJJ to address two questions: (1) whether the Agency has a statutory obligation to pay its clients’ travel expenses; and (2) whether DJJ has a statutory obligation to pay those expenses. The Supreme Court concluded neither entity’s authorizing statutes required the payment and therefore reversed the court of appeals. The Court did not address the question of how these necessary expenses were to be funded; the Court surmised that was an issue for the executive and legislative branches. View "Alaska Public Defender Agency v. Superior Court" on Justia Law