Justia Juvenile Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Education Law
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The Supreme Court held that the juvenile court may exercise jurisdiction in a formal wardship proceeding on the basis of the minor having four or more truancies within one school year under Cal. Welf & Inst. Code 601(b) if a fourth truancy report has been issued to the appropriate school official, even if the minor has not been previously referred to a school attendance review board (SARB) or a similar truancy mediation program.The district court filed a wardship petition against A.N., a high school student, in the juvenile court, alleging that A.N. was a habitual truant and that she was within the jurisdiction of the juvenile court. After a hearing, the juvenile court sustained the wardship petition. A.N. appealed, arguing that the juvenile court lacked jurisdiction because, at the time the petition was filed, she had not yet appeared before a SARB and because she and her parents had not received a fourth truancy report. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that because A.N.’s school had sent at least four truancy reports to the superintendent of the school district before the wardship petition was filed, the juvenile court possessed jurisdiction over A.N. View "In re A.N." on Justia Law

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In December 2018, E.F. (minor) and L.S. were ninth graders enrolled in the same art class in high school. For unknown reasons, minor offered L.S. a Cup of Noodles, microwaved it, and handed it to him. When L.S. went to drink the broth, it smelled of bleach and he threw it out. The juvenile court entered a temporary restraining order (TRO) and, subsequently, a three-year restraining order against E.F., charged with poisoning one of her high school classmates. Among other things, this appeal presents the following question: Is a prosecutor seeking a TRO under Welfare and Institutions Code section 213.5 required to give advance notice of her intent to do so (or is notice at the hearing where the TRO is requested sufficient)? The court in In re L.W., 44 Cal.App.5th 44 (2020) held that advance notice is required. The Court of Appeal disagreed, holding that express language in section 213.5 authorized courts to authorize TROs without notice in advance of the hearing. “The minor appearing at the arraignment with counsel is still notified of the prosecutor’s TRO application and has the opportunity to oppose the application. Because due process guarantees notice and the opportunity to be heard, the issuance of TROs under section 213.5 accords with due process and thus provides no basis to read section 213.5 in a counter- textual manner to avoid possible constitutional infirmity.” View "In re E.F." on Justia Law

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During his high school senior year, Frank had an encounter with the school’s new resource officer, Redwood City Officer Stahler. Frank’s father filed a complaint alleging Stahler had physically handled Frank in an unlawful manner. An investigation followed but Stahler continued at the school. Months later, Frank and three others left a class without permission. Frank was found in the library. An aide directed him to the administrative vice principal’ office, where Stahler was located. Frank called his father on his cell phone and told the aide he wanted to go to the principal’s office instead but generally cooperated with the aide. Stahler arrived and reprimanded Frank about using the phone in violation of school rules. There was physical contact; the two dispute the nature of the confrontation. Eventually, Stahler grabbed his wrist, forced Frank to the ground, handcuffed him and arrested him. The juvenile court sustained charges of misdemeanor battery and resisting a peace officer. The court of appeal reversed. Stahler did not indicate that Frank acted willfully or unlawfully to touch him. There is no substantial evidence that Frank’s touching Stahler, even if willful, was “harmful or offensive,” another required element of battery. There is no indication Stahler was enforcing any disciplinary rules during the encounter. Given Stahler’s failure to give Frank any clear or direct orders, there was insufficient evidence that Frank willfully resisted Stahler. View "People v. Francis A." on Justia Law

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The school’s principal recommended that M.N., a seventh grader, be expelled, based upon allegations that M.N. had committed sexual assault or sexual battery upon a 13-year-old female student on multiple occasions while the two rode a school bus. The district's administrative panel conducted a hearing and recommended expulsion, finding that M.N. had committed or attempted to commit sexual assault or committed sexual battery, and also committed sexual harassment. Unsuccessful with the District’s Governing Board and the Santa Clara County Board of Education, M.N. filed sought mandamus relief. The superior court concluded there was substantial evidence to support the finding that M.N. had committed sexual battery so that the District was required by statute to expel him for one year. The court remanded for consideration of whether the evidence justified the exercise of statutory discretion to suspend expulsion. M.N. argued that the sexual battery finding was unsupported by any competent evidence of the element of specific intent, i.e., that M.N.’s unwanted touching was “for the specific purpose of sexual arousal, sexual gratification, or sexual abuse” (Pen. Code, 243.4(e)(1)) and that evidence of such specific intent was entirely hearsay. The court of appeal affirmed, concluding that there was substantial evidence—including competent, admissible, nonhearsay evidence—to support the finding of sexual battery. View "M.N. v. Morgan Hill Unified School District" on Justia Law

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In this case, J.M. did not comply with certain conditions of the Government Claims Act (Government Code, section 810 et seq.): he did not present a claim with the board of the Huntington Beach Union High School District (the District) within six months of the date on which his causes of action accrued, as required by sections 945.4 and 911.2. He retained counsel, who presented an application under section 911.4 to present a late claim on the ground J.M. was a minor. The District did not act on the application, and, as a consequence, under the express language of section 911.6, subdivision (c), his application was deemed denied by operation of law. Still represented by counsel, J.M. filed a petition under section 946.6 for relief from the claim requirement. The superior court denied his petition as untimely because it was not filed within six months of the date on which his application to present a late claim was deemed denied by operation of law. J.M. appealed the superior court’s order denying his petition for relief under section 946.6. "The plain, unambiguous language of sections 911.6 and 946.6 compel[led]" the Court of Appeal to affirm: J.M.’s application to present a late claim was made under section 911.6, subdivision (b)(2) on the ground that he was a minor at the time he was required to present a claim. Because the District did not act, under the plain language of section 911.6(c), J.M.’s application was deemed denied by operation of law on the 45th day after it was presented. "When an application is denied by operation of law under section 911.6(c), a claimant can challenge that denial only by petition to the superior court under section 946.6 for relief from the claim requirement." J.M. filed his petition to the superior court more than six months after his application to present a late claim was deemed denied by operation of law. J.M.’s petition therefore was untimely, and the superior court did not err by denying it. View "J.M. v. Huntington Beach Union High School Dist." on Justia Law

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Antonio T., a seventeen-year-old high school student, was taken to the principal's office because he was suspected of being under the influence of alcohol. The assistant principal questioned Antonio about his possession of alcohol in the presence of a deputy sheriff. Antonio admitted that he had brought alcohol to school, where he drank it. At the principal's request, the deputy administered a breath alcohol test to Antonio, which was positive for alcohol. After administering the test, the deputy advised Antonio of his right to remain silent, and Antonio declined to answer the questions. Antonio was charged with the delinquent act of possession of alcohol by a minor. He filed a motion to suppress the statements he made to the assistant principal because his statements were elicited without a knowing, intelligent, and voluntary waiver of his right to remain silent. The district court denied his motion, which was affirmed by the Court of Appeals. The Supreme Court reversed both the district court and the Court of Appeals: although a school official may insist that a child answer questions for purposes of school disciplinary proceedings, any statements elicited by the official may not be used against the child in a delinquency proceeding unless the child made a knowing, intelligent, and voluntary waiver of his or her right to remain silent. Because the State failed to prove that Antonio effectively waived this right, his statements were inadmissible in the delinquency proceeding. View "New Mexico v. Antonio T." on Justia Law

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The State filed a petition alleging that Samantha C. was a juvenile as defined by Neb. Rev. Stat. 43-247(3)(b) for being habitually truant from school. Samantha argued that the juvenile court could not adjudicate her under section 43-247(3)(b) because her school had failed to comply with the remedial measures set forth in the compulsory education statutes. The juvenile court rejected Samantha’s argument and entered an order adjudicating Samantha as being habitually truant from school. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the State was not required to first prove Samantha’s school’s compliance with the compulsory education statutes because the Nebraska Juvenile Code and the compulsory education statutes are separate statutory enactments with distinct purposes and goals; and (2) the State met its burden of proving that Samantha was habitually truant from school under section 43-247(3)(b). View "In re Samantha C." on Justia Law

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Nearly a decade ago, petitioners, a state child protective services worker and a county deputy sheriff, interviewed then 9-year-old S.G. at her Oregon elementary school about allegations that her father had sexually abused her. Her father stood trial for that abuse but the jury failed to reach a verdict and the charges were later dismissed. S.G.'s mother subsequently sued petitioners on S.G.'s behalf for damages under 42 U.S.C. 1983, alleging that the in-school interview breached the Fourth Amendment's proscription on unreasonable seizures. The Ninth Circuit held that petitioners' conduct violated the Fourth Amendment but that they were entitled to qualified immunity from damages liability because no clearly established law had warned them of the illegality of the conduct. Although judgment was entered in petitioners' favor, they petitioned the Court to review the Ninth Circuit's ruling that their conduct violated the Fourth Amendment. At issue was whether government officials who prevailed on grounds of qualified immunity could obtain the Court's review of a court of appeals' decision that their conduct violated the Constitution. Also at issue was, if the Court could consider cases in this procedural posture, did the Ninth Circuit correctly determine that this interview breached the Fourth Amendment. The Court held that it could generally review a lower court's constitutional ruling at the behest of a government official granted immunity but could not do so in this case for reasons peculiar to it. The case had become moot because the child had grown up and moved across the country and so would never again be subject to the Oregon in-school interviewing practices whose constitutionality was at issue. Therefore, the Court did not reach the Fourth Amendment question in this case and vacated the part of the Ninth Circuit's opinion that decided the Fourth Amendment issue. View "Camreta v. Greene, et al.; Alford v. Greene, et al." on Justia Law

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A vice principal of an elementary school asked a Delaware State Trooper to come to the school give a talk about bullying to four or five fifth grade students who were under “in-school suspension.” The next day, the principal was told that there had been a bullying incident involving an autistic student whose money had been taken from him on the school bus by "AB." The principal told AB’s mother about the incident, and asked her permission to have the officer talk to AB. AB’s mother consented. The officer arrived and was told what happened. The principal and officer went to a room where AB was waiting. The principal was called away, leaving the officer alone with AB. The officer got AB to admit that he had the money (one dollar), but AB claimed that another student had taken the money. AB said that he did not know that other student’s name, but that the student was seated with AB on the school bus. Without discussing the matter with the principal, the officer followed up on AB’s claim despite being virtually certain that AB was the perpetrator. The officer obtained the bus seating chart, found AB's seat-mate, brought the two students together and questioned that student in the same manner as AB. According to the other child, the officer used a mean voice and told him 11 or 12 times that he had the authority to arrest the children and place them in jail if they did not tell the truth. AB finally admitted to taking the money from the autistic student. When he got home from school, the seat-mate told his mother what had happened. The child withdrew from school and was home schooled for the rest of that school year. The mother filed suit on her son’s behalf, as well as individually, against the Cape Henlopen School District, the Board of Education of Cape Henlopen School District, the principal, the State, the Department of Safety and Homeland Security, the Division of the Delaware State Police, and the officer, Trooper Pritchett (collectively, Pritchett). Charges against all but the officer were eventually settled or dismissed; Pritchett successfully moved for summary judgment, and this appeal followed. Viewing the record in the light most favorable to the child, the Supreme Court held that there was sufficient evidence to raise issues of material fact on all claims against the officer except a battery claim. Accordingly, the Court affirmed in part and reversed in part. View "Hunt v. Delaware" on Justia Law

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Brittany and Emily Morrow were subjected to threats and physical assaults by Anderson, a fellow student at Blackhawk High School. After Anderson physically attacked Brittany in the lunch room, the school suspended both girls. Brittany’s mother reported Anderson to the police at the recommendation of administration. Anderson was charged with simple assault, terroristic threats, and harassment. Anderson continued to bully Brittany and Emily. A state court placed Anderson on probation and ordered her to have no contact with Brittany. Five months later, Anderson was adjudicated delinquent and was again given a “no contact” order, which was provided to the school. Anderson subsequently boarded Brittany’s school bus and threatened Brittany, even though that bus did not service Anderson’s home. School officials told the Morrows that they could not guarantee their daughters’ safety and advised the Morrows to consider another school. The Morrows filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983, alleging violation of their substantive due process rights. The district court dismissed, reasoning that the school did not have a “special relationship” with students that would create a constitutional duty to protect them from other students and that the Morrows’ injury was not the result of any affirmative action by the defendants, under the “state-created danger” doctrine. The Third Circuit affirmed. View "Morrow v. Balaski" on Justia Law