Justia Juvenile Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Kentucky Supreme Court
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Defendant pleaded guilty to three counts of first-degree robbery. Defendant was a minor at the time he committed the felonies, and because the offenses involved a firearm, Defendant was automatically transferred to the circuit court as a youthful offender to be tried as an adult. The trial court determined Defendant should be granted probation on his ten-year sentence. The trial court subsequently revoked Defendant's probation and sentenced him to the Department of Corrections (DOC) to serve his sentence. The DOC classified Defendant as a violent offender, a status that restricted Defendant's parole eligibility. Defendant filed a declaration of rights action, arguing that the DOC erred in classifying him as a violent offender because he was a youthful offender. The circuit court agreed. The court of appeals reversed, holding that the Violent Offender Statute applied to youthful offenders for purposes of parole eligibility. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the parole-eligibility limitations of the Violent Offender Statute apply to youthful offenders; and (2) therefore, the DOC correctly classified Defendant as a violent offender subject to that statute's parole-eligibility restrictions. View "Edwards v. Harrod" on Justia Law

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Appellant was charged with complicity to commit assault in the first degree, attempted burglary in the first degree, and tampering with physical evidence in a juvenile proceeding. Appellant was sixteen years old at the time. The district court found there was no probable cause to believe Appellant had used a firearm in the commission of the offenses under Ky. Rev. Stat. 635.020(4) and therefore declined to order transfer of Appellant to circuit court as a youthful offender. The Commonwealth filed a petition for a writ of mandamus, asking the circuit court to order the district court to transfer Appellant as a youth offender. The circuit court granted the writ, and the court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the writ of mandamus issued by the circuit court was not an abuse of discretion where (1) a crime committed by complicity can fall under the mandatory transfer provision of section 635.020(4), and complicity to commit an offense involving use of a firearm requires transfer when an offense involving direct use of a firearm would; and (2) the district court erred in finding that a firearm was not used in Appellant's offense. View "K.R. v. Commonwealth" on Justia Law

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Appellee Brooke Nelson brought suit against elementary public school teacher Dianne Turner after allegations that Nelson's five-year-old daughter had been sexually assaulted by another student. The complaint alleged, among other causes of action, that Turner failed to report to enforcement officials the alleged sexual assault. The circuit court entered summary judgment in favor of Turner, concluding that Turner was entitled to qualified official immunity because her action, i.e., determining whether the facts constituted abuse, was discretionary in nature. The court of appeals reversed and remanded with directions to reconsider the mandatory abuse reporting obligation of Kan. Rev. Stat. 620.030. On remand, the trial court again found qualified official immunity applicable. The court of appeals reversed, holding that the reporting requirement of the statute was mandatory and therefore ministerial, obviating any application for qualified official immunity. The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals, holding that the trial court properly granted Turner's motion for summary judgment because Turner's actions were discretionary in nature rather than ministerial and, therefore, she was entitled to the defense of qualified official immunity under law. View "Turner v. Nelson" on Justia Law