Justia Juvenile Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Montana Supreme Court
In re H.M.
The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court denying the motion filed by H.M., a youth held in detention, seeking to dismiss a formal petition brought by the State to adjudicate H.M. as a delinquent youth, alleging one count of misdemeanor resisting arrest and three counts of assault on a police officer, holding that the district court did not err in denying the motion.As grounds to dismiss the petition H.M. argued that the State filed it one day beyond the seven-day time limit for such petitions against detained youths in Mont. Code Ann. 41-5-1401(2). The youth court declined to dismiss the petition, concluding that the State had good cause to file the petition and to detain H.M., outside the seven-day deadline. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the good cause exception in section 41-5-1401(2) applies to the youth court's decision not to dismiss an untimely petition charging a youth held in detention; and (2) the youth court properly denied H.M.'s motion to dismiss. View "In re H.M." on Justia Law
State v. Johnson
The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the district court denying Appellant's motion to transfer his criminal case to youth court, holding that the district court abused its discretion by failing to consider Appellant's mitigating and unrequited evidence supporting transfer.Defendant had turned seventeen years old one month before the incident leading to his charges of sexual intercourse without consent, sexual abuse of children, and sexual assault. After a hearing to determine if the case should be transferred to youth court, the district court concluded that transferring the case would be in Defendant's best interests and would serve the interests of community protection but that the transfer should be denied based on the severity of the offense. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the district court misapprehended the evidence presented by Defendant suggesting that the nature of the offense did not warrant district court prosecution and, instead, impermissibly reached its conclusion based solely on the egregious facts of the offense. View "State v. Johnson" on Justia Law
In re D.A.T.
The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the district court accepting an imposing a proposed youth court consent decree disposition, placing D.A.T. on supervised conditional probation for two years or until sooner released, and suspending the underlying youth court delinquency proceeding, holding that the youth court erred.At issue before the Supreme Court was whether the youth court erred in concluding that the consent decree guilt admission required by Mont. Code Ann. 41-5-1501(2) constitutes or requires a change of answer under Mont. Code Ann. 41-5-1502(8), thereby effecting a delinquency adjudication. The Supreme Court answered the question in the affirmative and remanded for entry of an amended dispositional order clarifying the effect of D.A.T.'s consent decree admission in according with Mon. Code Ann. 41-5-1501(1). View "In re D.A.T." on Justia Law
Keefe v. State
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment and sentence of the district court in this criminal case, holding that the district court adequately considered evidence of Defendant's post-offense rehabilitation under Miller v. Alabama, 567 U.S. 460 (2012), and imposed a constitutional sentence by striking a parole restriction.When he was seventeen years old, Defendant was charged with burglary and three counts of deliberate homicide. Defendant was convicted of all counts and sentenced to three consecutive life sentences without parole. Defendant later filed a successful postconviction petition seeking resentencing under Miller. After a resentencing hearing, the district court sentenced Defendant to three consecutive life terms at MSP without the possibility of parole. The Supreme Court remanded the case. On remand, the district court resentenced him to three life sentences and did not restrict Defendant's eligibility for parole. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court complied with the Court's instructions on remand in Keefe II and imposed a legal sentence. View "Keefe v. State" on Justia Law
In re V.K.B.
The Supreme Court reversed the oral disposition and accompanying order issued by the Youth Court, which committed V.K.B. to the custody of the Montana Department of Corrections (DOC) for placement at the Pine Hills Youth Correctional Facility following his adjudication as a delinquent youth, holding that the district court exceeded its statutory authority and abused its discretion.V.K.B. was fifteen year old when he accidentally shot and killed another boy. The State filed a delinquent youth petitions alleging that V.K.B. was a delinquent youth. The Youth Court adjudicated V.K.B. a delinquent youth and ordered him to be placed at Pine Hills. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the district court exceeded it statutory authority and abused it discretion by committing V.K.B. to the DOC for placement at Pine Hills without making the required findings under Mont. Code Ann. 41-5-1513(1)(e) that V.K.B. was a serious juvenile offender and that such a commitment was necessary for the protection of the public. View "In re V.K.B." on Justia Law
In re C.L.
The Supreme Court reversed the order of the youth court denying Appellant's motion to dismiss the State's petition to revoke his probation, holding that the youth court erred when it revoked Appellant's probation under a consent decree without Appellant's youth court petition having been reinstated.The youth court relied on the findings from its order to grant two dispositional orders that (1) granted the State's petition to revoke Appellant's probation and imposed a suspended sentence to the Montana Department of Corrections for placement in a secure juvenile facility, and (2) granted the State's second petition to revoke Appellant's probation and committed Appellant to Pine Hills Youth Correctional Facility. The Supreme Court reversed, thus vacating the youth court's two dispositional orders, holding that because the State failed to reinstate Appellant's original youth court petition, the youth court failed to follow the appropriate statutory procedure for a violation of a consent decree. View "In re C.L." on Justia Law
In re J.W.
The Supreme Court affirmed the jury verdict and dispositional order finding J.W. guilty of the offense of sexual intercourse without consent - a felony if committed by an adult, adjudicating J.W. a delinquent youth, and designating J.W. a serious juvenile offender, holding that there was no error or abuse of discretion.Specifically, the Supreme Court held (1) the Youth Court did not abuse its discretion when it refused to instruct the jury to consider youth characteristics in determining J.W.'s guilt; (2) the Youth Court did not abuse its discretion when it refused to instruct the jury on the legal age of consent; and (3) there was sufficient evidence to convict J.W. of the offense of sexual intercourse without consent. View "In re J.W." on Justia Law
In re S.G.-H.M. Jr.
The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the district court revoking the suspended portion of Appellant's sentence, holding that the district court did not err in denying Appellant's motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.When Appellant was sixteen, the youth court found Appellant to be a delinquent youth, and Appellant received a juvenile disposition consisting of both a juvenile sentence and an adult sentence. After Appellant admitted to violations of the conditions of his sentence the judge implemented the adult sentence in modified form. The State later filed a second petition to revoke, and the judge revoked Appellant's deferred adult sentences and sentenced him to a term of incarceration. When Appellant was twenty-seven years old the State filed a third petition to revoke. Appellant filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that the youth court's jurisdiction over him ended when he reached the age of twenty-five and that the judge had not transferred the case to the district court. The judge denied the motion. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the youth court lost jurisdiction over Appellant when he reached his twenty-fifth birthday and the case was not transferred to a district court; and (2) the lower court lacked jurisdiction and imposed an illegal sentence. View "In re S.G.-H.M. Jr." on Justia Law
State v. Talksabout
Seventeen-year-old Defendant was charged with two counts of sexual intercourse without consent. Defendant filed two motions to transfer each charge to Youth Court. The district court denied both transfer motions. Defendant ultimately pleaded guilty to one count of sexual intercourse without consent. Defendant was sentenced to fifty years in prison, with ten years suspended. The Supreme Court (1) affirmed the district court’s refusal to transfer the charges to Youth Court, holding that the district court did not err in denying the transfer motions; and (2) remanded for entry of an amended judgment and review of the sentence as provided by law, holding that the district court erred by not including the requirements found in Mont. Code Ann. 41-5-2503(1) in Defendant’s sentence. View "State v. Talksabout" on Justia Law
State v. K.J.R.
The State charged twelve-year-old K.J.R. with seven felony and misdemeanor offenses. The district youth court subsequently adjudicated K.J.R. to be a delinquent youth. The youth court committed K.J.R. to the supervision of the youth court until age eighteen, or sooner released, for placement at a specific therapeutic group home. Over the next three years, the juvenile probation officer moved K.J.R. in and out of a sequence of juvenile facilities and foster care homes. When K.J.R. was fifteen years old, the State filed a petition to revoke his youth court probation. After a dispositional hearing, the youth court revoked K.J.R.’s original commitment to the youth court and committed K.J.R. to the supervision of the Montana Department of Corrections (DOC) at a state youth correctional facility until age eighteen or sooner released. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the court did not err when it revoked K.J.R.’s original youth court commitment and recommitted him to DOC for placement at a state youth correction facility; and (2) K.J.R.’s claim that he received ineffective assistance of counsel during the delinquency proceedings was without merit. View "State v. K.J.R." on Justia Law