Justia Juvenile Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Idaho Supreme Court - Criminal
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Christopher Shanahan appealed a district court decision denying his motion to correct an allegedly illegal sentence imposed in 1997. In the Fall of 1995, Shanahan and two friends devised a scheme to rob a convenience store in Grant, Idaho, and use the money to travel to Las Vegas, Nevada. Once there, they planned to join a gang and lead a life of crime. Shanahan argued his indeterminate life sentence, with the first thirty-five years fixed, for the murder he committed as a juvenile in 1995 was equivalent to a life sentence without the possibility of parole. Therefore, he argued that under Miller v. Alabama, 567 U.S. 460 (2012) and persuasive precedent from other states, he was entitled to a new sentencing where his youth and its attendant characteristics could be properly considered. Otherwise, he argued, his sentence violated the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution. The district court denied the motion on the basis that Miller was inapplicable to Shanahan’s sentence and, even if it applied, the sentencing court heard testimony regarding his age and mental health prior to sentencing him. Finding no reversible error, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed Shanahan's conviction. View "Idaho v. Shanahan" on Justia Law

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Relying on Idaho Criminal Rule 47, Jane Doe filed a motion to modify disposition requesting that the juvenile court place her back on probation after sentence had been imposed, and modify its previous computation of credit for time served. The juvenile court held that Doe’s motion was actually a motion to reduce sentence under Idaho Criminal Rule 35 (a rule which has not been incorporated into the Idaho Juvenile Rules) and concluded that it did not have jurisdiction to consider Doe’s motion. Doe appealed the juvenile court’s decision to the district court. The district court affirmed the decision, holding that Rule 47 did not grant jurisdiction to reduce the sentence, but that jurisdiction existed under Idaho Code sections 20-505 and 20-507. The district court held that whether the sentence should be modified was a discretionary call and that the juvenile court did not abuse its discretion in declining to place Doe back on probation or incorrectly calculate Doe’s credit for time served. The Idaho Supreme Court agreed with the district court’s decision to affirm the magistrate court’s denial of Doe’s motion to modify disposition, but took the opportunity to explain there was no jurisdiction for the juvenile court to modify the juvenile’s sentence once it had been imposed and the time for appeal had run. View "Idaho v. Jane Doe (Juvenile)" on Justia Law

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In 2009, the State filed a petition against John Doe, charging that he was within the purview of Idaho's Juvenile Corrections Act (JCA) for delivery of a schedule III controlled substance, hydrocodone. The State and Doe's counsel reached an agreement whereby Doe admitted to the charge and, in exchange, the State waived proceedings to bring Doe into adult court. At the conclusion of Doe's sentencing hearing, the magistrate judge memorialized his ruling in a "decree" that was issued that same day. The decree stated, "It is hereby Ordered, Adjudged and Decreed that [Doe] is within the purview of the [JCA] and shall be placed on Formal Probation supervision not to exceed 2 years." In the first year of Doe's probation, he had two probation review hearings, both of which demonstrated good behavior. At Doe's one-year probation review hearing, Doe's counsel argued that the magistrate should convert his formal probation to an informal adjustment. Doe's counsel could not cite any authority for converting the sentence, but believed that the court had broad authority to do so based on the interests of justice. The State objected and argued that the court did not have authority to convert the formal probation to an informal adjustment. Ultimately, the magistrate court stated that it had the authority to convert the sentence and entered a "supplemental decree nunc pro tunc to date of original order," granting Doe an informal adjustment and dismissing the case. The magistrate then issued an Order Supplementing Decree that provided "Formal Probation converted to Informal Adjustment, nunc pro tunc 05/05/09." The State filed an appeal to the district court. The district court affirmed the magistrate court's order. The State timely appealed to the Supreme Court. Because it was improper for the magistrate to convert Doe's sentence, any subsequent dismissal or termination of the improperly substituted informal adjustment could not be upheld. The Supreme Court reversed the district court's order and remanded the case for reinstatement of the 2009 decree. View "Idaho v. Doe (2012-09)" on Justia Law