Articles Posted in Louisiana Supreme Court

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In 2015, the state filed a petition alleging that R.M. committed the felony-grade delinquent act of possession with intent to distribute a counterfeit controlled dangerous substance when he was 15 years old. R.M. appeared to answer the petition and entered a denial of the allegations. Pursuant to La.Ch.C. art. 877(B), the state had 90 days to commence the adjudication. R.M. filed a motion to challenge competency. The juvenile court appointed a panel of doctors to evaluate R.M. The court stayed the proceedings pursuant to La.Ch.C. art. 832 and set a competency hearing. The court, on its own motion, reset the hearing date several times after R.M. was arrested on a new charge and to give the doctors additional time to evaluate R.M. The court ultimately held the competency hearing on March 17, 2016, and found R.M. competent to proceed based on the doctors’ recommendations. The juvenile court set the adjudication for April 14, but continued the hearing until May 4 because the police officers involved in the case were not served. On May 4, 2016, the parties appeared for the adjudication, and the state made an oral motion to continue because the officers still had not been subpoenaed. In response, R.M. made an oral motion to dismiss the delinquency petition. The trial court granted R.M.’s motion, finding that the competency determination had resulted in unreasonable delay not attributable to any fault of the juvenile. The state sought supervisory review from the court of appeal, which affirmed the juvenile court’s dismissal in a split decision. The juvenile argues in essence that the state was still obligated to seek an extension for good cause, pursuant to La.Ch.C. art. 877(D), although R.M.’s competency was placed at issue and the proceedings were stayed pursuant to La.Ch.C. art. 832. The court of appeal agreed and found “that the stay pursuant to article 832 did not relieve the State of its duty to request and obtain a good cause extension before the article 877 mandatory time limit expired.” The Louisiana Supreme Court concluded the juvenile court prematurely dismissed the state’s petition. The Court reversed, finding that R.M.s’ motion to dismiss on May 4, 2016 was only 48-days in, close to a month of the 90-day period provided by La.Ch.C. art. 877 remained. View "State of Louisiana in the interest of R.M." on Justia Law

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Baton Rouge police officers found two juveniles passed out at 1 a.m. in a truck parked at a McDonald’s restaurant. A strong odor of marijuana emanated from the open windows. Fifteen-year-old C.T. was seated in the front passenger seat with a pistol in his lap. A search revealed a bag of marijuana in the driver’s possession as well as a burnt marijuana cigarette in the center console. Crystal Etue had reported the truck stolen several weeks earlier. She did not know either juvenile or authorize them to use the truck. C.T. was adjudicated delinquent for illegally carrying a weapon while in possession of a controlled dangerous substance, and unauthorized use of a motor vehicle. The juvenile court committed him to the custody of the Department of Public Safety and Corrections until he turned twenty-one. The court of appeal affirmed the adjudication and commitment. Finding no reversible error in the adjudication and commitment, the Louisiana Supreme Court affirmed. View "Louisiana in the Interest of C.T." on Justia Law

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The state filed a petition alleging A.C., at the age of 14 years, committed the felony-grade delinquent acts of aggravated rape of a victim under the age of 13 years, and indecent behavior with a juvenile. Pursuant to La.Ch.C. art. 877(B), the state had 90 days to commence the adjudication hearing, which was until Monday, June 6, 2016. The juvenile court set the adjudication hearing for Friday, June 3, 2016. On that date, the state made a motion to continue the hearing alleging that the prosecutor and the family of the victims had been out of town and witnesses had not been subpoenaed. Counsel for A.C. objected and indicated that, as soon as the 90-day limit passed, counsel would file a motion to dismiss the delinquency petition. The juvenile court found there was not good cause to extend the 90-day period and additionally dismissed the delinquency petition at that time. The state objected and gave notice of its intent to seek supervisory review in the court of appeal. The court of appeal granted the state’s writ application and reversed. On October 13, 2016, A.C. moved again to dismiss the delinquency petition, contending that the 90-day time limit had run, and argued in the alternative that the time was not suspended when the state sought supervisory review or, if the time was suspended, it began to run again after the court of appeal’s ruling on October 7, 2016, and had now run out. After the juvenile court denied A.C.’s motion to dismiss, A.C. gave notice of his intent to seek supervisory review from the court of appeal. The court of appeal granted A.C.’s writ application and dismissed the delinquency petition for failure to timely commence the adjudication hearing. The state asserted that there was good cause on day 88, and the court of appeal previously found the juvenile court acted prematurely in dismissing the petition. The Louisiana Supreme Court agreed the juvenile court’s dismissal was premature. While it would have been a better practice for the state to seek a stay from the juvenile court, or obtaining none from that court, seek a stay from the court of appeal, the Supreme Court found the state’s failure to obtain a stay was not fatal under the circumstances. The Court reversed the court of appeals and remanded for further proceedings. View "Louisiana in the Interest of A.C." on Justia Law

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Defendant Thayer Green was adjudicated a third felony offender and sentenced under the Habitual Offender Law to a term of life in prison without the benefit of parole, probation or suspension of sentence, for a home invasion committed as a juvenile. The Louisiana Supreme Court granted certiorari to consider whether the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Graham v. Florida, 560 U.S. 48 (2010) applied to an enhanced single sentence of life in prison without parole under the habitual offender statute. The Louisiana Court held Graham was, indeed, applicable to a defendant who was adjudicated and sentenced as a habitual offender to life without parole for an offense committed as a juvenile. Therefore, the Court amended defendant’s life sentence under the Habitual Offender Law to delete the restriction on parole eligibility and directed the Department of Corrections to revise defendant’s prison masters according to the criteria in La. R.S. 15:574.4(D) to reflect an eligibility date for consideration by the Board of Parole. View "Louisiana v. Green" on Justia Law

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A jury found defendant Alden Morgan, committed armed robbery at age 17. Following return of the guilty verdict, the district court sentenced him to 99 years imprisonment at hard labor without benefit of parole, probation, or suspension of sentence. After being denied relief on direct review, defendant filed a motion to correct an illegal sentence in light of recent developments in Eighth Amendment jurisprudence pertaining to the sentencing of juveniles. The Louisiana Supreme Court granted the defendant’s writ application to determine whether the defendant’s 99-year sentence was an effective life sentence and was, therefore, illegal under the Supreme Court’s decision in "Graham v. Florida," (560 U.S. 48 (2010)). The Louisiana Court held that a 99-year sentence without parole was illegal because it did not provide the defendant “with a meaningful opportunity to obtain release based on demonstrated maturity and rehabilitation.” Accordingly, the Court amended defendant’s sentence to delete the restriction on parole eligibility. View "State ex rel Moran v. Louisiana" on Justia Law

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Defendant Terrence Roberson was charged with armed robbery and attempted second-degree murder for offenses which allegedly occurred in 2012, when the defendant was sixteen years old. The issue this case presented for the Supreme Court's review centered on whether the Juvenile Court’s dismissal of defendant's case for expiration of the time period for adjudication provided in the Children’s Code prevented the District Attorney from later obtaining a grand jury indictment against defendant and bringing the case to District Court. In this case, the District Court quashed the defendant’s indictment on the basis of the Juvenile Court’s prior dismissal of the juvenile petition with prejudice. The Court of Appeal reversed the District Court’s grant of the motion to quash. Finding no reversible error in that decision, the Supreme Court affirmed. View "Louisiana v. Roberson" on Justia Law

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The state filed a delinquency petition in the Juvenile Court for the Parish of Orleans charging Defendant with distribution of heroin in violation of La.R.S. 40:966(A)(1). After a hearing, the court adjudicated Defendant delinquent and ordered him committed to the custody of the Department of Public Safety and Corrections for a period not to exceed one year. On appeal, the Fourth Circuit set aside the juvenile court's adjudication and disposition order on grounds that "any rational trier of fact, after viewing all of the evidence favorably to the prosecution, must have a reasonable doubt as to the Defendant's guilt." The Supreme Court granted the state's application for review and reversed the decision because the court of appeal erred in substituting its appreciation of the evidence presented at the delinquency hearing for that of the fact finder. View "In the interest of C.D." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court granted a writ application to determine whether a school board had tort liability for expelling a high school student after a fifth-sized bottle of whiskey fell from the student's backpack and broke on the classroom floor. The student claimed he was denied due process in the disciplinary proceedings that resulted in his expulsion. The district court agreed and awarded the student $50,000. Upon review of the trial court record, the Supreme Court found that the student presented no evidence whatsoever of being denied due process at the school board hearing. Finding the student failed to carry his burden of proof to show a denial of due process by the school board, the Court reversed the judgment of the district court. View "Christy v. McCalla" on Justia Law