Justia Juvenile Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Government & Administrative Law
Elisa W. v. City of New York
Plaintiffs-appellants, nineteen children in New York City’s foster care system, filed suit alleging “systemic deficiencies” in the administration of the City’s foster care system in violation of federal and state law. The named Plaintiffs moved to represent a class of all children who are now or will be in the foster care custody of the Commissioner of New York City’s Administration for Children’s Services and two subclasses. As remedies, they sought injunctive and declaratory relief to redress alleged class-wide injuries caused by deficiencies in the City’s administration—and the New York State Office of Children and Family Services’ oversight—of foster care. The district court denied Plaintiffs’ motion for class certification. Plaintiffs appealed, arguing that the district court erred in its analysis of the commonality and typicality requirements under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(a). The Second Circuit vacated the district court’s order denying class certification and remanded. The court held that the district court erred in its analysis of commonality and typicality under Rule 23. The court explained that the district court did not determine whether commonality and typicality exist with respect to each of Plaintiffs’ claims. Instead, it concluded that commonality was lacking as to all alleged harms because “Plaintiffs’ allegations do not flow from unitary, non-discretionary policies.” The court held that this approach was legal error requiring remand. Further, the court wrote that here, the district court largely relied upon its commonality analysis to support its finding that typicality was not satisfied. Thus, the deficiencies identified in its commonality inquiry can also be found in its handling of typicality. View "Elisa W. v. City of New York" on Justia Law
In re A.B.
In 2009, A.B., 13 years old, pled no contest to charges and was declared a ward of the juvenile court. The juvenile court successfully terminated his probation and wardship in 2014. Eight years later, A.B. and the County Probation Department filed an unopposed petition to have his juvenile court and public agency records sealed, Welfare and Institutions Code section 781. Since his juvenile adjudication, A.B. had not sustained any criminal convictions, had married and had a child, and had remained steadily employed.The court granted the petition, finding that A.B. had been rehabilitated and that A.B.’s offenses were not listed in section 707(b). In addition to sealing its own records, the court ordered the five government agencies listed in the petition to seal and ultimately destroy any of A.B.’s juvenile records in their custody. Three months later, A.B. discovered that several public agencies not subject to the original sealing order had retained and could access his juvenile records. A.B. petitioned to seal these additional records, again unopposed. The juvenile court concluded that it lacked the authority to seal additional records after the initial sealing order, acknowledging that, had the additional agencies been listed in A.B.’s first petition, they would have been ordered to seal their records. The court of appeal reversed. Section 781.1 allows a court to grant a petition to seal documents not addressed in an earlier petition. View "In re A.B." on Justia Law
Interest of G.R.D.
A.D. appealed on behalf of her son G.R.D., a court order placing him in the custody of the Division of Juvenile Services (DJS). In September 2022, G.R.D. was charged with committing simple assault on his mother. He was detained at the Grand Forks County Juvenile Detention Center and subsequently adjudicated as a delinquent child. He remained in his mother’s custody and was placed on supervised probation for 12 months and ordered to participate in drug court. In November 2022, G.R.D. was detained based on allegations he violated conditions of probation and committed new offenses. The juvenile court ordered that G.R.D. remain at the juvenile detention center and undergo diagnostic testing. On November 23, 2022, the juvenile court conducted an initial appearance on the probation revocation petition and ordered G.R.D to home detention in the custody of his mother. G.R.D. was alleged to have used methamphetamine within hours of being released into his mother’s custody. On November 28, 2022, the juvenile court conducted a detention hearing and ordered that G.R.D. be detained for again violating his probation. After a detention review hearing on December 27, 2022, the juvenile court found G.R.D. remained a delinquent child and ordered him into the custody of DJS for up to 12 months. The court also ordered DJS to place G.R.D. in a treatment center as soon as possible. A.D. argued the juvenile court erred by granting the DJS custody of G.R.D. instead of her, and the court’s findings were based on stale evidence. Finding no reversible error, the North Dakota Supreme Court affirmed the district court's order. View "Interest of G.R.D." on Justia Law
In re J.N.
J.N. was born in August 2013. On the eve of J.N.’s eighth birthday in August 2021, the State filed a petition alleging that J.N. was a child in need of care or supervision (CHINS) due to lack of proper parental care (CHINS- B) after an incident during which mother had dragged J.N. by her arms, causing bruises. The court transferred temporary custody to the Department for Children and Families (DCF). After a series of subsequent incidents at school and home, a trial court issued a disposition order that continued custody of J.N. with DCF, with a goal of reunification with her mother by June 2023. Mother appealed the CHINS disposition, Mother argued the State essentially used a CHINS petition to advance a claim of abuse, and that by accepting that framing, the trial court deprived her of notice and interpreted the statute in a manner that was unconstitutionally over broad. The Vermont Supreme Court determine the trial court’s findings did not fit the theory charged by the State. To the extent the State asked the Supreme Court to affirm the CHINS determination based on a theory of abuse, the Court agreed with Mother that this would create a problem of notice. Accordingly, the disposition was reversed and the matter remanded for further proceedings. View "In re J.N." on Justia Law
County of San Diego v. Com. on State Mandates
The County of San Diego filed a test claim with the Commission on State Mandates seeking reimbursement from the State for costs the County incurred to prepare for, and attend, criminal proceedings known as "Franklin" proceedings. The Commission denied the County’s test claim, finding the costs at issue were not reimbursable because the laws on which the County based its test claim—Penal Code sections 3041, 3046, 3051, and 4801, as added and amended by Statutes 2013, chapter 312, Statutes 2015, chapter 471, and Statutes 2017, chapter 684—did not expressly require counties to participate in Franklin proceedings. Alternatively, the Commission found the County was not entitled to reimbursement because the Test Claim Statutes fell within an exception to the mandatory reimbursement requirement, which applied when a law changes the penalty for a crime. The County sought judicial review, but the trial court denied relief for the same reasons articulated by the Commission in its decision denying the test claim. Like the Commission and the trial court, the Court of Appeal concluded the County was not entitled to mandatory reimbursement from the State because the Test Claim Statutes changed the penalties for crimes. "In our view, these laws change the penalties for crimes because they make the vast majority of youth offenders in the State eligible to receive a youth offender parole hearing and, as a result, many youth offenders are released from prison years or even decades earlier than they would have been if they had served out their original sentences." Given this determination, the Court determined it was unnecessary to decide whether the Test Claim Statutes imposed a mandate on counties to carry out a new program or a higher level of service. View "County of San Diego v. Com. on State Mandates" on Justia Law
T. S. v. County of Cook
Fox TV obtained permission from Superintendent Dixon to film scenes for the television series, Empire, at the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center. Fox used the Center’s outdoor yard, visitation room, medical office, and certain living spaces for five days and returned to film retakes on seven additional days. During filming, several housing pods housed more detainees than the Center’s policy suggested; some detainees exercised indoors instead of in the outdoor yard; some classes were moved; and the Center postponed or canceled some extra‐curricular activities and held visitation hours in a smaller room.Three detainees filed a proposed class action lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. 1983. The district court granted Dixon partial summary judgment on qualified immunity grounds because the plaintiffs had not shown “a clearly established right to be free of the arguably modest disruptions” but did not dismiss state law claims. The court reasoned that Dixon acted as the detainees’ guardian and had a fiduciary duty to “protect [them] from harm.” Under the holding, Dixon would only be entitled to sovereign immunity on the state law breach of fiduciary duty claim if he proved that he did not violate the detainees’ constitutional rights. On interlocutory appeal, the Seventh Circuit held that Dixon is immune from suit under the Illinois State Lawsuit Immunity Act. The alleged wrongful conduct arose from decisions Dixon made within the scope of his authority. View "T. S. v. County of Cook" on Justia Law
Petition of State of New Hampshire
The State of New Hampshire petitioned for original jurisdiction to the New Hampshire Supreme Court to challenge a circuit court order that granted respondent’s motion to dismiss a juvenile delinquency petition. The trial court ruled that the State failed to comply with RSA 169-B:6, IV(b) (2022) because no “manifestation review” had occurred prior to the filing of the delinquency petition. The Supreme Count found the term “manifestation review,” in the context of a juvenile delinquency petition resulting from conduct in a school setting by a student with a disability, referred to a process whereby a school, the student’s parents, and other parties review the student’s individualized education plan (IEP) and other relevant information to determine whether the alleged misconduct stemmed from the student’s disability or the school’s failure to implement the student’s IEP. The Court affirmed and held that whenever a delinquency petition is to be filed pursuant to RSA 169-B:6, IV(b) and the legally liable school district has determined that the child is a child with a disability according to RSA 186-C:2, I, then a manifestation review must be performed prior to the filing of the delinquency petition. "Of course, if the legislature disagrees with our construction of RSA 169-B:6, IV, it is free, within constitutional limits, to amend the statute accordingly." View "Petition of State of New Hampshire" on Justia Law
Rodriguez v. Mass. Parole Board
The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court in favor of the parole board as to Plaintiff's appeal from the board's fourth denial of his request for parole, holding that the superior court correctly affirmed the board's decision to deny Plaintiff release on parole.After a retrial, Plaintiff was convicted of rape and assault and battery by means of a dangerous weapon for crimes he committed when he was sixteen years old. He was sentenced to life imprisonment with the possibility of parole. In denying Plaintiff's fourth request for parole, the board concluded that he was not yet rehabilitated and that his release was not compatible with the welfare of society. The superior court affirmed. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that Plaintiff was not entitled to relief as to any of his arguments on appeal. View "Rodriguez v. Mass. Parole Board" on Justia Law
Ashley W. v. Holcomb
When the Indiana Department of Child Services identifies a situation that involves the apparent neglect or abuse of a child, it files a “CHINS” (Children in Need of Services) petition that may request the child’s placement with foster parents. The litigation ends only when the court determines that the child’s parents can resume unsupervised custody, the child is adopted, or the child turns 18. Minors who are or were subject to CHINS proceedings sought an injunction covering how the Department investigates child welfare before CHINS proceedings, when it may or must initiate CHINS proceedings, and what relief the Department may or must pursue. The district court denied a request to abstain and declined to dismiss the suit.The Seventh Circuit reversed. Only two plaintiffs still have live claims; all of their claims may be resolved in CHINS proceedings, so “Younger” abstention applies. Short of ordering the state to produce more money, "it is hard to see what options are open to a federal court but closed to a CHINS court." It is improper for a federal court to issue an injunction requiring a state official to comply with existing state law. Questions that lie outside the scope of CHINS proceedings, such as how the Department handles investigations before filing a CHINS petition, do not affect the status of the remaining plaintiffs. Any contentions that rest on state law also are outside the province of the federal court. View "Ashley W. v. Holcomb" on Justia Law
Cynthia W. v. Alaska, Dept. of Health & Social Services, Office of Children’s Services
In Alaska, a child was presumed to be at substantial risk of sexual abuse (and therefore in need of aid) if the parent knowingly leaves the child with a person convicted of or under investigation for a sex offense against a minor. After an adjudication hearing, a superior court found a child to be at substantial risk of sexual abuse based on evidence that she was left with her mother’s boyfriend, who had been indicted for sexual abuse of a minor. The mother appealed, arguing that the superior court erred by not acknowledging that an indictment was weaker proof than a conviction and by not making findings about the likelihood that the conduct underlying the indictment actually occurred. Because the statute did not require the superior court to draw such distinctions or make such findings, and because the findings the court did make are not clearly erroneous, the Alaska Supreme Court affirmed its ruling that the child was in need of aid. View "Cynthia W. v. Alaska, Dept. of Health & Social Services, Office of Children's Services" on Justia Law