Justia Juvenile Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Juvenile Law
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The case involves a mother appealing against a juvenile court's ruling that she neglected her infant son, AE. The infant was born prematurely and consistently underweight. Despite numerous hospitalizations and health professional instructions, the child's weight did not significantly increase while under the parents' care. However, the child showed substantial weight gain while hospitalized. The State filed a petition alleging that the parents neglected AE by failing to provide adequate care necessary for the child's well-being. The juvenile court ruled in favor of the State concerning the mother, but not the father, due to insufficient evidence against him.The Supreme Court of Wyoming affirmed the lower court's decision. The court found that the evidence of the child's ability to gain weight in a hospital setting versus his home was enough to support the neglect adjudication against the mother. The court stressed that although the mother followed medical instructions and took AE to medical appointments, the child's failure to thrive at home pointed to neglect. This case demonstrates that the courts assess neglect based on the child's well-being and not necessarily on the intent or efforts of the parents. View "In the Interest of A. E. v. The State of Wyoming" on Justia Law

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This case before the Indiana Supreme Court concerns a juvenile, A.W., who was adjudicated for possession of a machine gun and dangerous possession of a firearm. The court was asked to determine if these adjudications violated the principle of double jeopardy under Indiana law. A.W. asserted that he did not know the firearm he possessed had been modified to function as a machine gun.The court found that A.W.'s exclusive possession of the modified gun, along with his abrupt flight from police, supported the conclusion that he knowingly or intentionally possessed a machine gun. This satisfied the first part of the court's inquiry.On the issue of double jeopardy, the court noted that while the Indiana Constitution could apply in juvenile proceedings, it avoided deciding that issue. Instead, it focused on whether possession of a dangerous firearm is a lesser-included offense of possession of a machine gun under the test set out in the case Wadle v. State. The court found that it was, meaning A.W.'s adjudications for both offenses violated his rights under the principle of double jeopardy. Therefore, the court affirmed the finding that A.W. knowingly possessed a machine gun but reversed the adjudication that he committed dangerous possession of a firearm. View "A. W. v. State of Indiana" on Justia Law

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The case involves a father, J.L., who appealed against orders that declared his children, P.L and L.L, to be dependents of the juvenile court and placed them with their mother, H.T. J.L. also contested the condition of his visitation rights, arguing that the court improperly delegated its visitation authority to the children. The San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency maintained that J.L. forfeited the issue by not raising it at the lower court level.The parents had a child welfare history dating back to 2019, with multiple referrals regarding J.L. physically or emotionally abusing the children. The parents divorced in 2023, and shared custody until an incident occurred where J.L. allegedly punched P.L. The Agency then obtained protective custody warrants for the children. The court placed the children with their mother and ordered liberal supervised visitation for J.L., considering the children's wishes on whether visits would go forward. This order was not objected to by J.L's counsel.The Court of Appeal, Fourth Appellate District Division One State of California concurred with the Agency and affirmed the lower court's orders. It held that J.L. forfeited his right to contest the visitation orders by failing to raise the issue at the lower court level. Furthermore, even if the issue was not forfeited, the appellate court found no abuse of discretion by the lower court in allowing the children to decline visiting J.L. The court explained that it was J.L.’s responsibility to request a specific change to the visitation order if he was unhappy with the children's refusal to visit him. View "In re P.L." on Justia Law

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This case involves the multiple appeals of a juvenile, Miguel R., who was transferred to criminal court for alleged felonies including murder and second-degree robbery. A juvenile wardship petition alleged that Miguel committed these crimes when he was 17 years old. The juvenile court initially granted the People’s motion to transfer Miguel to criminal court. Miguel appealed this order, but the decision was affirmed. Following the remittitur issue, the juvenile court transferred the matter to criminal court.However, subsequent amendments to section 707 of the Welfare and Institutions Code necessitated a second transfer hearing. The amendments raised the standard of proof to clear and convincing evidence on the issue of whether a juvenile should be transferred. The juvenile court, after considering the statutory changes, again ordered Miguel to be transferred to criminal court based on the conclusion that he was “not amenable to the care, treatment and training programs available through the juvenile court system”. Miguel appealed this order as well, arguing that the juvenile court misapplied the statutory changes and that the prosecution did not carry its burden under the clear and convincing evidence standard.The court of appeal rejected Miguel’s arguments and affirmed the juvenile court's decision. The court held that the juvenile court was not required to give greater weight to any particular statutory criterion in its determination of whether a minor is amenable to rehabilitation. The court also found that substantial evidence supported the juvenile court's findings. Thus, the order transferring Miguel to criminal court was affirmed. View "In re Miguel R." on Justia Law

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In this case, the Supreme Court of Florida reviewed a decision from the Fifth District Court of Appeal related to the termination of a father's parental rights. The father, identified as C.C., had been convicted 18 times over a 15-year period, including for domestic violence, arson, and driving while intoxicated. He was repeatedly incarcerated, leading to his lack of involvement in the life of his son, L.A., who was taken into state custody shortly after his birth due to his mother's physical abuse of his older brother. Despite minimal involvement in L.A.'s life, C.C. challenged the termination of his parental rights, arguing that the termination was not the least restrictive means of protecting L.A.The trial court had concluded that C.C.'s repeated incarceration, token support, and failure to maintain a substantial and positive relationship with L.A. constituted abandonment, and that his repeated incarceration and unavailability presented a risk of harm to L.A., despite his receipt of services. On appeal, the Fifth District Court of Appeal concluded that C.C. should have been provided with a case plan and the opportunity to comply with it before his parental rights were terminated.The Supreme Court of Florida disagreed with the Fifth District's decision, finding that it had improperly reweighed the evidence. The Supreme Court held that the trial court's determination that termination was the least restrictive means of protecting L.A. was supported by competent, substantial evidence, and it remanded the case to the Sixth District to affirm the trial court's order terminating C.C.'s parental rights. The court emphasized that the paramount concern was the welfare of the child and that despite the services provided to C.C., he had not been able to overcome the issues that led to L.A.'s dependency. View "Statewide Guardian ad Litem Office v. C.C." on Justia Law

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In this case, J.C.P., the father of A.P., appealed a juvenile court's decision to terminate his parental rights. The child had been placed in protective custody due to his negligence and was adjudicated in need of protection. Both parents were in default, and the court had extended protective custody for an additional nine months. The mother did not appear at any of the hearings, but J.C.P. did, except for the final status conference. At this conference, the State moved for default against J.C.P., and the court agreed, terminating both parents' rights.J.C.P. argued that the court had abused its discretion by taking judicial notice of the affidavit underlying the petition without receiving testimony or other evidence in support of termination. He claimed that the court's findings were erroneous as they were not supported by evidence in the record. The Supreme Court of North Dakota agreed, finding that the juvenile court had abused its discretion by relying on an affidavit that the State never offered and the court never received into evidence.The court also pointed out that the juvenile court should not have accepted the qualified expert witness's affidavit instead of testimony, as the parties had not stipulated to this. The Court concluded that the juvenile court's findings on termination were clearly erroneous because they were not supported by evidence in the record. As a result, the Supreme Court of North Dakota reversed the juvenile court order terminating parental rights and remanded the case for further proceedings. View "Interest of A.P." on Justia Law

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This case is an appeal from the Superior Court of Placer County, California. The appellant, J.S., challenges the denial of his motion to dismiss his juvenile wardship petition and seal all related records under California Welfare and Institutions Code section 786. The court had determined that J.S. was ineligible for such relief because he had a new finding of wardship during his probation period, interpreting the statute as categorically precluding relief in such a situation.The case hinged on the interpretation of section 786, subdivision (c)(1), which stipulates that satisfactory completion of probation occurs if the person has no new findings of wardship or conviction for a felony offense or a misdemeanor involving moral turpitude. J.S. argued that this provision should only preclude relief if the new finding of wardship was for a felony offense or a misdemeanor involving moral turpitude. The court agreed with J.S.'s interpretation.The court concluded that the juvenile court had erred in its interpretation of the statute by denying J.S.'s motion based on any new finding of wardship during the probation period. The court found that the statutory language and legislative history supported J.S.'s argument that relief under section 786 is not categorically precluded when there is a new finding of wardship during the period of probation that was not based on a felony offense or a misdemeanor offense involving moral turpitude.The case was remanded for further proceedings for the juvenile court to reconsider J.S.'s motion under the correct interpretation of the statute. View "In re J.S." on Justia Law

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The case revolves around a father, Rene S., who appealed against the jurisdictional and dispositional orders which removed his daughter, F.V., from his custody. F.V. had traveled to the United States from Honduras with her father when she was nine years old, but when they were unable to cross the border together, she entered the United States alone. She was placed with her maternal uncle in California by immigration authorities, who obtained her mother's consent for the placement. The juvenile court sustained allegations that F.V.'s uncle sexually abused her. The court asserted jurisdiction based on the parents allowing F.V. to enter the U.S. unaccompanied with no plan in place for her care.At the disposition stage, the juvenile court indicated it was inclined to return F.V. to her mother in Honduras. However, the court declined to place F.V. with her father, finding his housing situation was unstable and F.V. did not want to relocate to Texas, where her father now lived. As a result, F.V. remained in foster care.The California Court of Appeal reversed the lower court's orders, holding that there was insufficient evidence of future risk to F.V. to support jurisdiction. The court noted that at the time of the jurisdiction hearing, F.V. was no longer in her uncle's custody, and there was no indication that her mother and father would allow her uncle access to her. Given that the father was now in the U.S. and able to care for her, and the mother wanted her back in Honduras, the court found it unlikely that the circumstances leading to F.V.'s entry into the U.S. alone would recur. View "In re F.V." on Justia Law

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In this case, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of absolute and qualified immunity to two County of San Bernardino social workers, Gloria Vazquez and Mirta Johnson. The plaintiffs, Sydney Rieman and her minor child K.B., alleged that the social workers violated their Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights by failing to provide them notice of a juvenile detention hearing and by providing false information to the Juvenile Court about why Ms. Rieman was not noticed for the hearing.The court held that the social workers were not entitled to absolute immunity for their actions and omissions, such as providing false information to the Juvenile Court and failing to give notice of the detention hearing. These actions were not similar to discretionary decisions about whether to prosecute. Absolute immunity did not apply to the plaintiffs' claim that the defendants failed to give them notice of the detention hearing as such notice was mandatory.The court also held that the defendants were not entitled to qualified immunity from suit for failing to provide notice of the hearing. Ms. Rieman had a due process right to such notice and that right was clearly established. The court stated that it was clear at the time that parents could not be summarily deprived of the care and custody of their children without notice and a hearing, except when the children were in imminent danger.Finally, the court held that the defendants were not entitled to qualified immunity for their misrepresentation to the Juvenile Court about why Ms. Rieman was not noticed for the hearing. The court concluded that a reasonable social worker in the defendants' shoes would have understood, based on prior decisional law, that providing incomplete and false information to the Juvenile Court about Ms. Rieman’s whereabouts to convince the court that the social workers had satisfied the due process notice requirement constituted judicial deception. View "RIEMAN V. VASQUEZ" on Justia Law

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This case involves the appeal of an order to transfer a juvenile, Miguel R., from the juvenile court system to the criminal court system in California. Miguel was originally charged with murder and other offenses when he was 17 years old. After a juvenile wardship petition was filed, the juvenile court granted a motion to transfer Miguel to the criminal court. The defendant appealed this order, but it was affirmed by the appellate court.Subsequently, changes in legislation led to the case being transferred back to the juvenile court to address the statutory amendments. The juvenile court, applying the new standard of proof, again ordered Miguel to be transferred to the criminal court. Miguel appealed this second order, arguing that the juvenile court misapplied the statutory changes and that the prosecution did not meet its burden under the clear and convincing evidence standard.The appellate court affirmed the order of the juvenile court. It clarified certain points about the recent amendments to the relevant statute, stating that the statute does not require any one factor to be given more weight than others when determining whether a minor is suitable for rehabilitation under the juvenile court's jurisdiction.The appellate court also found that the juvenile court's decision to transfer Miguel to the criminal court was supported by substantial evidence, and that it was not reasonably probable that the juvenile court would have reached a different conclusion even if it had applied the most recent version of the statute. The court's ruling was based on factors such as Miguel's degree of criminal sophistication, his potential for rehabilitation before the expiration of the juvenile court's jurisdiction, the success of previous attempts to rehabilitate him, and the circumstances and gravity of his offenses. View "In re Miguel R." on Justia Law