Justia Juvenile Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Constitutional Law
In re Pers. Restraint of Kennedy
When Petitioner Andrew Kennedy was 19 years old, he killed his cousin’s 11-month-old daughter while she was in his care. Following a bench trial in 2007, the court convicted Kennedy of homicide by abuse and sentenced him to 380 months in confinement. Kennedy’s judgment and sentence became final after direct appeal in 2009. In 2019, he filed this personal restraint petition (PRP) seeking to be resentenced based on “[n]ewly discovered evidence.” Kennedy argued that advancements in the scientific understanding of adolescent brain development for young adults since his 2007 sentencing would have probably changed the trial court’s discretionary sentencing decision by allowing him to argue for a mitigated sentence based on youthfulness. The Court of Appeals dismissed Kennedy’s PRP as time barred, concluding that scientific evidence supporting such an argument for young adults Kennedy’s age was available at the time of sentencing. After the Washington Supreme Court granted Kennedy’s motion for discretionary review, he raised a second argument for relief based on the “significant change in the law” exemption to the time bar. The Supreme Court found Kennedy's PRP meet neither exemption to the time bar. View "In re Pers. Restraint of Kennedy" on Justia Law
In re N.L.
Minor N.L. appealed an order adjudging her a ward of the court. She argued: (1) there was insufficient evidence to support the juvenile court’s finding that she willfully and maliciously committed felony arson of property; and (2) the case should have been remanded for the juvenile court to consider informal supervision under Welfare and Institutions Code section 654.2, applying changes to the law that became effective on January 1, 2022 as a result of Senate Bill No. 383 (2021-2022 Reg. Sess.). After review, the Court of Appeal found sufficient evidence to support the true finding, but the Court agreed that N.L. was entitled to a conditional reversal and remand for the trial court to consider informal supervision under the law as amended by Senate Bill No. 383. View "In re N.L." on Justia Law
Keefe v. State
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment and sentence of the district court in this criminal case, holding that the district court adequately considered evidence of Defendant's post-offense rehabilitation under Miller v. Alabama, 567 U.S. 460 (2012), and imposed a constitutional sentence by striking a parole restriction.When he was seventeen years old, Defendant was charged with burglary and three counts of deliberate homicide. Defendant was convicted of all counts and sentenced to three consecutive life sentences without parole. Defendant later filed a successful postconviction petition seeking resentencing under Miller. After a resentencing hearing, the district court sentenced Defendant to three consecutive life terms at MSP without the possibility of parole. The Supreme Court remanded the case. On remand, the district court resentenced him to three life sentences and did not restrict Defendant's eligibility for parole. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court complied with the Court's instructions on remand in Keefe II and imposed a legal sentence. View "Keefe v. State" on Justia Law
New Jersey v. Lane
In 2020, the Legislature amended N.J.S.A. 2C:44-1 to add a new mitigating factor fourteen: “[t]he defendant was under 26 years of age at the time of the commission of the offense.” N.J.S.A. 2C:44-1(b)(14). It provided that “[t]his new act shall take effect immediately.” L. 2020, c. 110, § 2. In this appeal, the Court considers defendant Rahee Lane’s argument that the new mitigating factor should be applied to defendants who were under twenty-six years old at the time of their offenses, if their direct appeals were pending when the statute was amended. The New Jersey Supreme Court construed N.J.S.A. 2C:44-1(b)(14) to be prospective, finding in the statutory language no indication that mitigating factor fourteen applied to defendants sentenced prior to the provision’s effective date. The Court viewed N.J.S.A. 2C:44-1(b)(14)’s legislative history to confirm the Legislature’s intent to authorize sentencing courts to consider the new mitigating factor in imposing a sentence on or after the date of the amendment. View "New Jersey v. Lane" on Justia Law
Altman v. Mississippi
At issue in this interlocutory appeal was whether the circuit court had jurisdiction to hear defendant Rayvon Altman's case. In August 2020, Altman was indicted in on four counts of aggravated assault in violation of Mississippi Code Section 97-3-7(a)(1) (Rev. 2020). The indictment alleged that Altman intentionally drove his motor vehicle into another vehicle, which was occupied by four people, in an attempt to injure the occupants. It was subsequently acknowledged that the occupants of the other vehicle were Altman’s mother, siblings, and stepfather. In early 2021, Altman filed a motion to dismiss the indictment for lack of jurisdiction, arguing that the indictment should have been dismissed because the youth court had exclusive jurisdiction under Section 43-21-151 because he was under eighteen years of age at the time of the alleged offense. The Mississippi Supreme Court found both Altman and the State agreed that the deadly weapon exception was inapplicable because Section 97-37-1 did not prohibit the concealed carrying of an automobile. Thus, the circuit court did not have jurisdiction over Altman because he was a minor at the time the alleged offense was committed. The circuit court’s order was reversed and the case remanded to the circuit court for it to render a judgment dismissing Altman’s indictment and to “forward all documents pertaining to the cause to the youth court[.]” View "Altman v. Mississippi" on Justia Law
New Jersey v. Comer
Defendants James Comer and James Zarate asked the New Jersey Supreme Court to find that a mandatory sentence of at least 30 years without parole was unconstitutional as applied to juveniles. Seventeen year old Comer was sentenced in 2004 to an aggregate term of 75 years in prison with 68.25 years of parole ineligibility for his participation in four armed robberies, one of which, an accomplice shot and killed a robbery victim. Zarate was convicted of participating in a brutal murder with his older brother. At the time of his offense in 2005, Zarate was 14 years old, less than one month shy of his 15th birthday. For the murder conviction, the court sentenced Zarate to life imprisonment, subject to an 85-percent period of parole ineligibility under the No Early Release Act (NERA), with consecutive sentences for two additional offenses. After weighing other statutory factors, Zarate was resentenced for murder to 50 years in prison. The Supreme Court reversed in both cases: "The statutory framework for sentencing juveniles, if not addressed, will contravene Article I, Paragraph 12 of the State Constitution. To remedy the concerns defendants raise and save the statute from constitutional infirmity, the Court will permit juvenile offenders convicted under the law to petition for a review of their sentence after they have served two decades in prison. At that time, judges will assess a series of factors the United States Supreme Court has set forth in Miller v. Alabama, which are designed to consider the 'mitigating qualities of youth.'" View "New Jersey v. Comer" on Justia Law
In the Interest of T.B.
The issue this case presented for the Georgia Supreme Court's review centered on whether a child charged with delinquency based on an alleged violation of Georgia’s Criminal Code could assert an affirmative defense of insanity or delusional compulsion, under OCGA §sections 16-3-2 or 16-3-3, in a juvenile-court proceeding. The Georgia Supreme Court found that the Juvenile Code did not expressly state whether affirmative defenses provided for in the Criminal Code were available in juvenile court. Based on the Juvenile Code’s text and structure, however, the Court concluded that insanity and delusional-compulsion defenses were available in most delinquency proceedings, specifically holding that in a delinquency proceeding, a child could assert an insanity or delusional-compulsion defense under OCGA sections 16-3-2 or 16-3-3 when the child’s delinquency charge is based on an allegation that the child committed “[a]n act . . . designated a crime by the laws of this state.” Because the juvenile court erred in concluding that a child could never raise an insanity or delusional-compulsion defense in a delinquency proceeding, the Supreme Court vacated the court’s order denying the motion of T.B. which sought a forensic psychological evaluation for purposes of raising a defense under OCGA 16-3-2 or 16-3-3. The case was remanded for further proceedings. View "In the Interest of T.B." on Justia Law
Washington v. M.Y.G.
M.Y.G. was 15 years old when he stole two cars. The State charged him with two counts of theft of a motor vehicle. M.Y.G. moved for and was granted a deferred disposition, but he objected to providing a DNA sample. The trial court ordered M.Y.G. to submit a DNA sample but stayed collection pending appeal. The Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court, upholding the DNA collection. I.A.S. was 17 years old and under the influence of alcohol when he stole a truck, crashed it into a tree, and ran from the scene. The State charged him with one count of second degree burglary, theft of a motor vehicle, second degree theft, driving under the influence, and failure to remain at the scene of an accident. I.A.S. moved for and was granted a deferred disposition. He too objected to providing a DNA sample, but the court ordered him to submit one, staying collection pending his appeal. The Court of Appeal again affirmed the trial court, requiring I.A.S. to give a DNA sample. I.A.S. and M.Y.G. appealed, presenting the question of whether a juvenile was “convicted” when they enter into a deferred disposition. The Washington Supreme Court held that a juvenile is “convicted” when they enter into a deferred disposition. However, the Court held that the juvenile offenses committed by the petitioners in this case did not trigger the DNA collection statute. Therefore, the Supreme Court affirmed the Court of Appeals in part and reversed in part. The orders requiring a DNA sample from M.Y.G. and I.A.S were vacated. View "Washington v. M.Y.G." on Justia Law
A.C. V. ERICA CORTEZ
Plaintiffs in this action are minors who resided in San Diego County. Plaintiffs sued the County and County social workers for allegedly violating their Fourth Amendment rights by interviewing them without a court order or parental consent during the course of a child-abuse investigation. During that investigation, the County created and maintained files related to the alleged child abuse. Attorneys defending the County reviewed the child-abuse investigation file without first obtaining a court order. Plaintiffs then brought an action, alleging that the attorneys who accessed the file violated their right to privacy.The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court’s dismissal of the action. The court held that, contrary to Plaintiffs’ argument, Gonzalez v. Spencer, 336 F.3d 832 (9th Cir. 2003) (per curiam), abrogated on other grounds by Filarsky v. Delia, 566 U.S. 377 (2012) does not stand for the proposition that a right to privacy necessarily attaches to the type of records at issue here. Further, even if Plaintiffs were entitled to informational privacy, the balancing test recognized in Seaton v. Mayberg, 610 F.3d 530 (9th Cir. 2010), showed the County’s interest in defending this litigation outweighed Plaintiffs’ asserted privacy interest. Even assuming that the social workers’ records comprised sensitive medical and psychological records, there was no constitutional violation because the County’s need to access the records was high. Plaintiffs initiated that need, and the professional obligations that lawyers owe their clients minimized the risk of misuse, harassment, or embarrassment. Thus, the district court properly dismissed Plaintiffs’ Monell claim. View "A.C. V. ERICA CORTEZ" on Justia Law
California v. Delgado
The issue presented by this appeal was whether youthful offenders who are statutorily ineligible for early parole consideration were nevertheless entitled to a "Franklin" proceeding to preserve evidence for their eventual parole hearing. During his early 20’s, appellant was involved in three separate criminal incidents. s a result of those incidents, appellant was convicted of kidnapping for robbery and multiple counts of robbery, burglary, false imprisonment and illegal gun possession. He was also found to have personally used a firearm during the offenses and suffered a prior strike conviction. The trial court sentenced him to 59 years to life in prison under the “Three Strikes” law. In 2020, appellant requested a Franklin proceeding to present mitigation evidence in anticipation of his youth offender parole hearing (YOPH). However, the trial court correctly determined appellant was not eligible for a YOPH because he was sentenced under the Three Strikes law. Therefore, it denied his request for a Franklin proceeding. Appellant admitted he was statutorily ineligible for a YOPH because he was sentenced under the Three Strikes law. However, he contended he is entitled to a YOPH – and a concomitant Franklin proceeding – as a matter of equal protection. Although the Court of Appeal rejected appellant’s equal protection argument, both parties concluded he was entitled to a Franklin proceeding under the standard rules applicable to all parole hearings. The trial court's judgment was reversed and the case remanded for such a proceeding. View "California v. Delgado" on Justia Law