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The Cook County circuit court found sections of the Juvenile Court Act of 1987 (705 ILCS 405/5-101(3), 5-605(1) unconstitutional as applied to Destiny who was 14 years old when she was charged with four counts of first-degree murder, one count of attempted murder, one count of aggravated battery with a firearm, three counts of aggravated unlawful use of a weapon, and one count of unlawful possession of a weapon. The court held that these sections, which do not provide jury trials for first-time juvenile offenders charged with first-degree murder, violated the equal protection clauses of the U.S. and Illinois Constitutions, but rejected the defense argument that these sections were unconstitutional on due process grounds. On direct appeal, the Illinois Supreme Court affirmed with respect to the due process challenge but reversed with respect to equal protection. Destiny cannot show that she is similarly situated to the comparison groups: recidivist juvenile offenders charged with different crimes and tried under one of two recidivist statutes. These are the only classes of juvenile offenders who face mandatory incarceration if adjudicated delinquent and the legislature has denied a jury trial only to the former. The two classes are charged with different crimes, arrive in court with different criminal backgrounds, and are tried and sentenced under different statutes with distinct legislative purposes. Due process does not mandate jury trials for juveniles. View "In re Destiny P." on Justia Law

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Baton Rouge police officers found two juveniles passed out at 1 a.m. in a truck parked at a McDonald’s restaurant. A strong odor of marijuana emanated from the open windows. Fifteen-year-old C.T. was seated in the front passenger seat with a pistol in his lap. A search revealed a bag of marijuana in the driver’s possession as well as a burnt marijuana cigarette in the center console. Crystal Etue had reported the truck stolen several weeks earlier. She did not know either juvenile or authorize them to use the truck. C.T. was adjudicated delinquent for illegally carrying a weapon while in possession of a controlled dangerous substance, and unauthorized use of a motor vehicle. The juvenile court committed him to the custody of the Department of Public Safety and Corrections until he turned twenty-one. The court of appeal affirmed the adjudication and commitment. Finding no reversible error in the adjudication and commitment, the Louisiana Supreme Court affirmed. View "Louisiana in the Interest of C.T." on Justia Law

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T.F., then a 13-year-old special education student, was accused of possessing a weapon on school grounds (Penal Code 626.10(a)) and committing a lewd act on a child under age 14 (Penal Code 288(a)). Before and during his wardship proceeding under Welfare and Institutions Code 602, T.F’s defense counsel moved to exclude inculpatory statements he made to the police. The court suppressed the pre-Miranda statements T.F. made when questioned at his school, but admitted the post-Miranda statements he made at the police station. The court sustained the petition, finding true the allegation that T.F. had touched the victim’s vagina when she was three years old. T.F., then 16 years old, was declared a ward of the court and placed on probation in his mother’s home. The court of appeal reversed, finding that T.F.’s statements were made in violation of his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. T.F.’s Miranda admonition was “rapidly rattled” off without taking time to determine whether T.F. understood, after T.F. had already undergone a nearly hour-long interrogation by two detectives while confined in a school conference room, which culminated in his arrest. T.F. was sobbing and clearly distraught at school and remained so during the subsequent interrogation. View "In re T.F." on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeal affirmed defendant's conviction for first degree murder, first degree burglary, and conspiracy to commit murder. In the published portion of the opinion, the court held that Proposition 57 does not apply retroactively to defendant's case, and thus rejected defendant's claim that retroactivity to juvenile offenders with life without the possibility of parole sentences was required under Montgomery v. Louisiana. View "People v. Navarra" on Justia Law

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A juvenile, who has been indicted as a youthful offender, is not entitled as of right to interlocutory review of a denial of a motion to dismiss that indictment. The grand jury returned a youthful offender indictment against Juvenile, charging her with rape of a child. Juvenile moved to dismiss the indictment for lack of probable cause. The Supreme Judicial Court reversed the juvenile court judge’s order denying the motion to dismiss, holding (1) Juvenile is not entitled to interlocutory review under these circumstances, but, nevertheless, the court exercises its discretion to reach the merits of the petition; and (2) the youthful offender portion of the indictment was not sufficiently supported by probable cause. View "N.M. v. Commonwealth" on Justia Law

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K.S. was detained by the San Francisco Human Services Agency shortly after her birth in January 2017, due to a referral indicating that mother had tested positive for methamphetamines during a recent prenatal visit. The dependency petition cited mother’s long history of substance abuse for which she failed to receive treatment; the termination of mother’s parental rights with respect to four older children based on her untreated polysubstance abuse; the parents’ history of domestic violence; father’s history of substance abuse, for which he failed to seek treatment until June 2017; and the termination of father’s parental rights to three other children. Mother and father challenged the juvenile court order denying them reunification services with respect to K.S., their only child in common, and setting a permanency planning hearing under Welfare and Institutions Code section 366.26. Under section 361.5(b)(10) and (b)(11), reunification services need not be offered to a parent if the court has previously terminated reunification services or parental rights with respect to a sibling or half-sibling of the child and the parent “has not subsequently made a reasonable effort to treat the problems that led to removal.” The court of appeal affirmed; the record sufficiently supports the juvenile court's determinations and declining to apply a “best interests” analysis. View "Jennifer S. v. Superior Court" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court's denial of a habeas corpus petition where petitioner challenged his conviction for second degree murder and attempted murder. Petitioner was fourteen years old at the time he was found guilty of the crimes. The panel held that the government relied on a coerced waiver of the right to counsel to secure the conviction because petitioner did not knowingly, intelligently, and voluntarily waive such right. Because admission of petitioner's confession was not harmless, the panel granted relief under 42 U.S.C. 2254. View "Rodriguez v. McDonald" on Justia Law

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The juvenile court is statutorily required to appoint counsel for the parent of a child who is in an out-of-home placement if the parent is presently financially unable to afford and cannot for that reason employ counsel unless the court finds that the parent has made a knowing and intelligent waiver of counsel. The Court of Appeal held that the juvenile court's error in failing to timely appoint counsel for mother in a Welfare and Institutions Code section 388 hearing resulted in a miscarriage of justice. In this case, mother was without representation for more than two years, the child resided primarily in a group home during that time, and she had requested reappointment of counsel. Therefore, the court reversed and remanded to the juvenile court with directions. View "In re J.P." on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeal affirmed the juvenile court's decision to lift a deferred entry of judgment (DEJ), sustain a delinquency petition against defendant, declare him a ward of the court, and terminate jurisdiction. Because there was no support for a finding that defendant's failure to maintain his grades and complete his high school education was other than willful, the court held that the juvenile court's reliance on that failure as a basis for lifting DEJ was not an abuse of discretion. The court rejected defendant's alternate argument that A.V., supra, 11 Cal.App.5th 697, compelled a conclusion that the juvenile court abused its discretion in declining to order that the records relating to his petition be sealed. View "In re N.R." on Justia Law

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Holman, then age 17, was convicted of the 1979 murder of an 83-year-old woman. Holman had a criminal history as a juvenile and confessed to his involvement in a crime spree that involved other murders. He had been diagnosed as mildly mentally retarded.Holman’s attorney told the court that Holman did not want to offer any mitigating evidence and that Holman’s mother did not want to testify on his behalf. Holman received a sentence of life without parole. His appeal and post-conviction petitions were unsuccessful. In 2010, Holman filed a pro se petition for leave to file a successive postconviction petition, arguing that his life sentence was unconstitutional under Supreme Court precedent. The appellate court rejected that argument because it was not raised before the trial court and noted that the sentence was not unconstitutional under Miller v. Alabama (2012) because Holman was “afforded a ‘sentencing hearing where natural life imprisonment [was] not the only available sentence.’ ” The Illinois Supreme Court held that Miller announced a new substantive rule of constitutional law that applied retroactively. On remand, the appellate court reached the merits, recognized that Supreme Court precedent requires trial courts to consider youth and its attendant characteristics before imposing life sentences on juveniles, and concluded that the trial court in this case did so. The Illinois Supreme Court affirmed the denial of relief. The trial court looked at the evidence and concluded that Holman’s conduct placed him beyond rehabilitation; his sentence passes constitutional muster. View "People v. Holman" on Justia Law