Justia Juvenile Law Opinion Summaries

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the district court in this case and held that the aggravated indecent liberties statute, Kan. Stat. Ann. 21-5506(b)(1), is not vague or overbroad and does not violate equal protection as applied.The State charged A.B., who was then a fourteen-year-old girl, with aggravated indecent liberties with a child for having sex with a then fourteen-year-old boy. The State first charged A.B. with unlawful voluntary sexual relations under Kan. Stat. Ann. 21-5507, commonly known as the "Romeo and Juliet" statute, but the district court dismissed the charge because A.B. was a few months younger than the boy. In doing so, the court relied on In re E.R., 197 P.3d 870 (Kan. 2008), which held that the statute requires the offender to be older than the victim. The State then recharged A.B. with the more severe crime of aggravated indecent liberties with a child under section 21-5506(b)(1). The district court subsequently declared section 21-5506(b)(1) unconstitutional. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded the case, holding (1) section 21-5506(b)(1) is not vague or overbroad and does not violate equal protection; and (2) E.R. which held that section 21-5507 requires the offender to be older than the other participant in the sexual relations criminalized by the statute, is overruled. View "In re A.B." on Justia Law

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Applicant Steven Thomas was 16 when he committed capital murder. When he was 19, the juvenile court waived its exclusive jurisdiction and transferred Applicant’s case to district court, where Applicant pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of murder. Decades passed. Applicant did not appeal his transfer or his case or file a writ of habeas corpus. Then, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals decided Moon v. Texas, 451 S.W.3d 28 (Tex. Crim. App. 2014), which held that if an order waiving juvenile jurisdiction did not contain factually-supported, case-specific findings, then the order is invalid, and the district court never acquires jurisdiction. Based upon Moon, Applicant argued that because the order waiving juvenile jurisdiction did not contain factually-supported, case-specific findings, it was invalid, and thus the district court never acquired jurisdiction. The Court of Criminal Appeals found that the type of findings Moon required were neither grounded in the text of the transfer statute, nor in Kent v. United States, 383 U.S. 541 (1966), the Supreme Court precedent that it purportedly relied upon in Moon. "Requiring them may be good policy, but the lack of case-specific findings has nothing to do with jurisdiction, fundamental constitutional rights, or even the transfer statute itself. The juvenile court’s transfer order in this case may have lacked factually-supported, case-specific findings, but that did not make that order invalid or deprive the district court of jurisdiction." Consequently, the Court determined Applicant was not entitled to habeas corpus relief. View "Ex parte Steven Thomas" on Justia Law

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Juvenile S.R. appealed a family division order granting the Department for Children and Families' (DCF) request to place him in a secure out-of-state psychiatric residential treatment facility pursuant to 33 V.S.A. 5926. In November 2019, mother stipulated that S.R. was CHINS. The stipulated merits order indicated that S.R. and mother were homeless, mother needed to undergo a medical procedure that would preclude her from caring for S.R., and S.R. had mental health and behavioral needs that needed continued treatment. The stipulated order included a statement that S.R. did not meet criteria for voluntary or involuntary mental health admission. Mother stipulated that she was unable to meet S.R.’s needs for stability, housing, and mental and behavioral health services. The COVID-19 pandemic struck, delaying court hearings. Over the following months, S.R. moved through a series of ten to twelve placements. The constant changes in placement prevented S.R. from establishing any therapeutic connections with service providers and also inhibited S.R.’s educational progress. S.R. was charged with delinquency several times after he reportedly became abusive during three of his placements. DCF, Mother and S.R.'s guardian ad litem eventually agreed on a placement in Harbor Point, Virginia. S.R. himself objected to placement at Harbor Point, and to any other placement out-of-state, unless a program could be found in New York, where his mother was living at the time of the hearing. The court ultimately granted DCF’s motion for out-of-state placement, finding that there were no equivalent facilities in Vermont, and that placement at Harbor Point was in S.R.’s best interest. On appeal, S.R. argued the court erred in granting the motion for out-of-state placement in the absence of any psychiatric or psychological evaluation supporting a conclusion that psychiatric residential treatment was necessary for him. He contended his placement was akin to the involuntary commitment of an adult, and that involuntary commitment decisions had to be supported by full psychiatric evaluations and expert testimony. The Vermont Supreme Court concluded the order was not supported by sufficient evidence, and reversed. "While we have no doubt that everyone involved in the proceeding below was concerned with S.R.’s best interest and acted in good faith, and it may be that DCF’s position is ultimately adequately supported, the record simply does not contain the sort of expert evidence required to support long-term placement in a locked psychiatric residential treatment facility over S.R.’s objection." View "In re S.R., Juvenile" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court denied the motion for attorney fees and expenses against the State by the intervenor in a juvenile proceeding who successfully appealed a final order during the pendency of the case, holding that the State's limited waiver of sovereign immunity set forth in Neb. Rev. Stat. 25-1804(1) did not apply to the fees and expenses sought.On appeal, the parties disputed whether the juvenile proceedings were a civil action and whether they were brought by the State and whether the State was substantially justified in its position. The Supreme Court held (1) the State's position in bringing and maintaining the underlying petition for adjudication was substantially justified; and (2) accordingly, no statute provided for the recovery of the intervenor's attorney fees and expenses incurred in this appeal. View "In re Interest of A.A." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the dispositional order imposed after an adjudication that juvenile Timothy Silva committed manslaughter, holding that the court did not err in committing him to detention.Silva was sixteen years old when he lost control of a vehicle and caused the death of three passengers and serious injuries to a fourth. The juvenile court adjudicated Silva to have committed one count of manslaughter and committed him to Long Creek Youth Development Center for an undetermined period of up Silva's twenty-first birthday. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that the court's disposition was neither error nor an abuse of discretion. View "State v. Silva" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court convicting Defendant of attempted murder, holding that the trial court did not err in not allowing Defendant's mother as a witness to stay in the courtroom during Defendant's trial.Defendant was fifteen years old when he was waived into adult criminal court and convicted. Before trial, the State listed Defendant's mother as a potential witness, and at trial, the State requested a separation of witnesses order. The court ordered Defendant's mother to leave the courtroom, and the State never called her to testify. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) a child in adult criminal court may use Ind. R. Evid. 615(c) to establish that a parent is "essential" to the presentation of the defense and is thus excluded from a witness separation order; (2) Defendant did not make the requisite showing under the rule; (3) Defendant waived his argument that a juvenile defendant has a due process right to have a parent present for criminal proceedings; and (4) Defendant's challenges to his sentence were unavailing. View "Harris v. State" on Justia Law

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Fifteen-year-old Lucas Orozco was charged with robbery and burglary, both felonies, for allegedly robbing a convenience store. After a magistrate court determined there was probable cause to charge Orozco with the felonies, it waived juvenile jurisdiction and bound him over to district court as an adult pursuant to Idaho Code section 20-509. Orozco objected to this automatic waiver, filing a motion with the district court challenging the constitutionality of section 20-509. The district court denied the motion, relying on precedent from the Idaho Court of Appeals, which previously upheld the constitutionality of section 20-509. Orozco appealed, arguing that the automatic waiver denied him procedural due process protections afforded to him by the U.S. Constitution. Finding no reversible error, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed the district court. View "Idaho v. Orozco" on Justia Law

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Jermontae Moss was convicted of felony murder, possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime, and theft by receiving stolen property in connection with the 2011 shooting death of Jose Marin. At the time of the crime, Moss was 17 years old and sentenced to life without the possibility of parole. On appeal, he contended he received ineffective assistance of trial counsel, and that the court erred in imposing that sentence. Finding no merit to either contention, the Georgia Supreme Court affirmed Moss' conviction and sentence. View "Moss v. Georgia" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the district court dismissing M.M.'s claim seeking to recover compensation for his wrongful 226-day confinement to a juvenile corrections facility, holding that Kan. Stat. Ann. 60-5004 does not allow compensation for wrongful juvenile adjudications.A district magistrate judge found M.M. guilty of aggravated indecent liberties and sentenced him to two years' confinement at a juvenile corrections facility. Thereafter, a district court jury found M.M. not guilty of aggravated indecent liberties and released M.M. back to the custody of his mother. M.M. subsequently filed a petition for certificate of innocence under section 60-5004. The district court dismissed the petition. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the plain language of section 60-5004 unambiguously bars claimants from recovering for wrongful juvenile adjudications. View "In re M.M." on Justia Law

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Father and Mother lived together for a few years and are the parents of Minor, who was born in 2014. By 2018, Mother was raising her children—Minor and Minor’s three older half-siblings—on her own, and she did not know Father’s whereabouts. The Alameda County Social Services Agency filed a juvenile dependency petition on behalf of the children, listing Father’s name but stating his address was unknown. On November 12, 2019, the Agency filed a status review report for the six-month review hearing; 13 months after the original petition was filed, the Agency first listed an address for Father as the California State Prison. Father subsequently was deemed Minor’s presumed father and was released from custody. The juvenile court summarily denied his motion under Welfare and Institutions Code section 388 to set aside prior findings, without a hearing.The court of appeal set aside the juvenile court’s order setting a hearing under section 366.26 to consider termination of parental rights, guardianship, or another permanent plan. Father sufficiently raised the possibility that the Agency failed to use due diligence to locate him and sufficiently stated a notice violation to warrant an evidentiary hearing. View "In re R.A." on Justia Law