Justia Juvenile Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in New Hampshire Supreme Court
New Hampshire v. Lopez, Jr.
Defendant Eduardo Lopez, Jr. committed murder at age 17. Following his conviction, defendant received a statutorily-mandated sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. In 2012, the United States Supreme Court issued Miller v. Alabama, 567 U.S. 460 (2012), ruling that “the Eighth Amendment forbids a sentencing scheme that mandates life in prison without possibility of parole for juvenile offenders.” Accordingly, in 2017, the trial court held a two-day resentencing hearing at which it heard testimony from the arresting police officer, several members of the murder victim’s family, an addiction psychiatrist, a forensic psychologist, several members of the defendant’s family, and the defendant. Following the hearing, taking into consideration the record before it, “the nature and circumstances of the underlying crime, the characteristics of the defendant, and the traditional sentencing factors,” the court imposed a sentence of 45 years to life. Defendant appealed that sentence, arguing 45-year-to-life constituted a de facto equivalent of of lifetime imprisonment in violation of the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution. The New Hampshire Supreme Court held the trial court did not err in determining that the 45-year-to-life sentence it imposed, under which defendant had an opportunity to be considered for parole when he reached 62 years of age, was not a de facto life sentence under the Eighth Amendment to the Federal Constitution. Accordingly, the sentence was affirmed. View "New Hampshire v. Lopez, Jr." on Justia Law
Petition of the State of New Hampshire
The State of New Hampshire filed a petition for original jurisdiction seeking review of a circuit court order denying a request by the Office of the Attorney General (AGO) to release records underlying its investigation into an incident involving minors. According to the AGO, in 2017, there was an incident involving several minors in Claremont, New Hampshire. The AGO, the United States Attorney’s Office, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Claremont Police Department jointly investigated the incident. Subsequently, the Sullivan County Attorney filed delinquency petitions in the circuit court against one of the juveniles. The AGO asserted that the evidence obtained during the investigation was not confidential under RSA 169-B:35 but, even if it were, “significant policy considerations” allowed disclosure as long as the juvenile’s identity was protected. Following a hearing, the trial court rejected the AGO’s argument that RSA chapter 169-B did not apply to the AGO’s investigatory records. The court stated that “RSA 169-B:35 provides that all case records relative to delinquencies are confidential. Publication of information concerning a juvenile case is strictly prohibited with few legislatively enacted exceptions. None of those exceptions apply in this case.” The New Hampshire Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court’s ruling that the records were confidential under RSA 169-B:35 (Supp. 2018). View "Petition of the State of New Hampshire" on Justia Law
In re E.G.
Sixteen-year-old E.G. was petitioned as a delinquent for having committed the offenses of falsifying physical evidence, and possession of drugs. The petitions also alleged that E.G.’s case had been screened and deemed inappropriate for diversion because E.G. was “being petitioned as a delinquent for a felony level charge, and has several previous police contacts where he was involved in disturbances, criminal mischief and reckless conduct.” E.G. filed a motion to suppress, among other things, “all evidence obtained in violation of [his] right against self-incrimination.” Specifically, he contended that he had been subjected to custodial interrogation by police without having been informed of his rights in accordance with Miranda and New Hampshire v. Benoit, 126 N.H. 6 (1985). The trial court denied the motion. Considering the totality of the circumstances of the encounter, the New Hampshire Supreme Court concluded a reasonable juvenile in E.G.’s position would not have believed himself to be in custody, and therefore, that E.G. was not in custody for Miranda purposes when he made the incriminating statements to the officer. View "In re E.G." on Justia Law
In re Cody C.
"Cody C." (a juvenile) challenged the Sixth Circuit Court's jurisdiction over him until his eighteenth birthday. Cody had been adjudicated delinquent on several occaisons; shortly before his seventeenth birthday, the State moved to extend the court's jurisdiction until his eighteenth birthday. After review, the Supreme Court upheld the circuit court's retention of jurisdiction. View "In re Cody C." on Justia Law
In re Anthony F.
Anthony F. appealed an order by the Derry District Court that denied his motion to suppress evidence that supported a child delinquency petition against him. The juvenile was stopped by school officials as he was leaving campus one morning in 2008. He refused to return, stating he did not feel well. Assistant principals escorted him back to the school where he was searched. One assistant principal asked the juvenile if he had "anything on [him] that [he] shouldn’t have on school property." The juvenile eventually handed over a small bag of marijuana that he retrieved from inside his sock. Subsequently, a delinquency petition was filed. The juvenile moved to suppress the marijuana evidence, arguing that the search was unconstitutional under the New Hampshire and Federal Constitutions. The State countered that there was no search under the law, but even if a search occurred, it was constitutionally valid. Upon review, the Supreme Court concluded that the facts of this case did not support a finding of reasonable grounds for suspecting that a search of this juvenile would turn up contraband. The assistant principals searched the juvenile because it was school policy to search all students who return to school after leaving an assigned area. The record reveals, however, that the juvenile was leaving the school, not returning. It was school officials who forced his return. The Court held that the search was "suspicionless" and as such, illegal. The Court reversed the decision in this case and remanded the case for further proceedings. View "In re Anthony F. " on Justia Law
New Hampshire v. Lopez
Defendant Luis Lopez was convicted in 2007 on felony child endangerment charges. On appeal to the Supreme Court, Defendant argued that there was insufficient evidence presented at trial to convict him. The child’s mother found sexually suggestive images of her daughter on Defendant’s cell phone and called police. At issue on appeal was whether Defendant requested the child pose for him when the record revealed the child, when at play, liked to imagine herself as a runway model and "pose" for Defendant. The Supreme Court found that a "rational trier of fact" could have concluded that Defendant solicited the child for the suggestive images. The Court affirmed Defendant’s conviction. View "New Hampshire v. Lopez" on Justia Law
Appeal of Keelin B.
Petitioners Daniel and Lisa B. appealed the decision of the New Hampshire State Board of Education (Board) that upheld a thirty-four day suspension imposed on their daughter Keelin B. Keelin opened an email account under another studentâs name, and then sent sexually suggestive, lewd and threatening email messages to the principal of her school and one teacher. When the deception was discovered, the Board âsentencedâ Keelin to a thirty-four day suspension. Keelinâs parents appealed to the School Board, but the Board upheld the suspension. Upon review, the Supreme Court found that Keelinâs âsentenceâ exceeded the Boardâs maximum allowable suspension under these kinds of circumstances. The Court reduced Keelinâs suspension to twenty days, but affirmed the Boardâs decision in all other respects.