Articles Posted in North Dakota Supreme Court

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Barry Garcia appealed a district court's denial of his request for a new trial and determining N.D.C.C. 12.1-32-13.1 did not apply to his criminal sentence. In 1996, Garcia was found guilty of the offense of murder, committed while he was a juvenile, and he was sentenced to life imprisonment without parole. In 2016, Garcia filed a petition for post-conviction relief arguing that imposing a sentence of life without parole on a juvenile violated the constitutional standards set forth by the United States Supreme Court in Miller v. Alabama, 567 U.S. 460 (2012) and Montgomery v. Louisiana, 136 S.Ct. 718 (2016). While Garcia’s appeal was pending, the North Dakota legislature passed HB 1195, which was enacted on April 17, 2017 as N.D.C.C. 12.1-32-13.1 and effective August 1, 2017. The North Dakota Supreme Court declined to rule on Garcia’s request to apply N.D.C.C. 12.1-32-13.1 because it had not been raised at the district court, and ruled without remanding the issue. Following the appeal of the 2016 denial of post-conviction relief, Garcia filed a motion for a new trial in the district court. The court found that a motion for a new trial was not the correct vehicle for requesting relief under N.D.C.C. 12.1-32-13.1, but pursuant to the consent of both parties, agreed to consider whether N.D.C.C. 12.1-32-13.1 applied to Garcia. After a hearing, the court issued an order denying the motion for a new trial and finding N.D.C.C. 12.1-32-13.1 did not apply. The Supreme Court determined Garcia’s conviction was final before the statute’s effective date; granting his requested relief would require retroactive application of the statute and would constitute an infringement on the executive pardoning power. Furthermore, Garcia failed to provide newly discovered evidence to support his motion for a new trial. Therefore, the Supreme Court affirmed the district court's order. View "Garcia v. North Dakota" on Justia Law

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M.M. appeals from a juvenile court order denying his motion to dismiss a juvenile petition pertaining to an underlying juvenile delinquency case after entering conditional admissions to committing delinquent acts of simple assault and contact by bodily fluids. On October 17, 2017, a juvenile petition was filed with the juvenile court. At the time the juvenile petition was filed, M.M. resided at the Youth Correctional Center (“YCC”). M.M. made his initial appearance on November 7, 2017. A pretrial conference was scheduled for November 14, 2017, and trial was set for November 27, 2017. On November 21, 2017, M.M. moved to dismiss the petition, arguing the hearing on the petition was not held within the required time limits for a child in detention. M.M. simultaneously requested a continuance in order to allow him to complete discovery. The State opposed the motion to dismiss, arguing the motion itself was untimely and that M.M. was not a child in detention. The juvenile court denied M.M.’s motion to dismiss but granted his request for a continuance, delaying the trial an additional month. On January 16, 2018, M.M. admitted to the allegations of delinquent acts on a conditional basis, preserving his right to appeal. M.M. argued the juvenile court erred by denying his motion to dismiss because the hearing on the petition was not held within 30 days of the filing of the petition. M.M. conceded at oral argument that he was no longer contesting a violation regarding the timing of the initial hearing on the petition. The North Dakota Supreme Court found M.M.’s initial and adjudicative hearings were scheduled within time constraints prescribed by North Dakota Rules of Juvenile Procedure, therefore affirming the juvenile court order denying his motion to dismiss. View "Interest of M.M." on Justia Law

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C.B. appealed a juvenile court order adopting a judicial referee's order finding C.B. failed to register as a sex offender. In June 2012, C.B. pled guilty to "assault IV with sexual motivation" in Washington state. The adjudication and disposition order did not require C.B. to register as a sex offender in Washington. In the fall of 2012, C.B. moved to North Dakota with his father. At the request of the juvenile court, C.B. registered as a sex offender in North Dakota in November 2013. In May 2015, C.B. updated his registration at the Bismarck Police Department. After updating his registration, an assistant Burleigh County state's attorney issued a juvenile petition to C.B. for committing the delinquent act of failure to register as a sex offender. The petition alleged C.B. failed to timely "alert law enforcement to a new job, a new place of residence, a telephone number or his facebook account." C.B. moved to dismiss the petition, arguing he should not be required to register. At an October 2015 hearing on the motion, an assistant attorney general testified C.B.'s assault IV with sexual motivation in Washington was equivalent to a class A misdemeanor sexual offense in North Dakota that required registration. At the conclusion of the hearing, the judicial referee stated he was dismissing the petition, and issued an order of dismissal. Shortly thereafter, the referee rescinded the order of dismissal, stating he decided the motion wrongly due to a legal error. The judicial referee provided notice to the parties the same day that they had the right to have the order reviewed by a juvenile court judge if the request was made within seven days. C.B. did not request review of the order. C.B. again moved to dismiss the petition in November 2015, arguing the judicial referee exceeded his authority when he rescinded the order dismissing the petition. The referee denied the motion. C.B. sought review of the referee's decision from the juvenile court. The juvenile court adopted the referee's decision denying the motion. C.B. filed another motion to dismiss in December 2015, arguing the State failed to give full faith and credit to the Washington order that did not require C.B. to register as a sex offender. The North Dakota Supreme Court affirmed: although C.B. was not required to register as a sex offender in Washington, Full Faith and Credit does not prohibit North Dakota from requiring C.B. to register. View "Interest of C.B." on Justia Law

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Barry Garcia appealed a district court order summarily dismissing his application for post-conviction relief. A juvenile petition was filed alleging Garcia had committed murder, attempted robbery, aggravated assault, and criminal street gang crime. At the State's request, the court transferred Garcia to adult court for trial. At trial, the district court dismissed the robbery and criminal street gang charges. The jury found Garcia guilty of murder, a class AA felony, and aggravated assault, a class C felony. After a sentencing hearing, the district court sentenced Garcia to life imprisonment without parole on the murder conviction, and to a concurrent five years' imprisonment on the aggravated assault conviction. Garcia appealed, arguing his sentence constituted cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution. The North Dakota Supreme Court concluded the district court's 1996 sentencing of Garcia to life imprisonment without parole did not violate the Eighth Amendment. The Court affirmed the district court's order summarily dismissing Garcia's application for post-conviction relief. View "Garcia v. North Dakota" on Justia Law

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The State appealed a juvenile court order adopting a judicial referee's findings of fact and order dismissing the State's petition alleging M.H.P. was a delinquent child. The State filed a petition alleging M.H.P. was a delinquent child who committed gross sexual imposition. The judicial referee found M.H.P. was not in need of treatment or rehabilitation as a delinquent child. The judicial referee explained he previously found beyond a reasonable doubt that M.H.P. committed the delinquent act of gross sexual imposition and stated, "Although this fact alone would be sufficient to sustain a finding of a need for treatment and rehabilitation, there was a substantial amount of evidence to the contrary." Based on these findings, the judicial referee dismissed the petition. The juvenile court adopted the judicial referee's findings and order, dismissed the proceeding and concluded the issue of M.H.P. registering as a sexual offender did not need to be addressed. Upon review, the Supreme Court concluded that the Double Jeopardy Clause of the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution barred the State from appealing the juvenile court's order. The Supreme Court therefore affirmed the dismissal of the juvenile court's findings. View "Interest of M.H.P." on Justia Law

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Defendant Christian Antonio Alaniz, Jr., appealed an order deferring imposition of sentence entered after he conditionally pled guilty to possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia. Defendant argued the district court erred in denying his motion to suppress evidence because there was not probable cause to justify the search of his person and the exception to the probable cause requirement for warrantless searches by school officials did not apply. Troy Vanyo was a police officer with the Grand Forks Police Department and was assigned to work as a school resource officer at a high school in Grand Forks. Vanyo had received information about possible drug use involving students in an area approximately a block and a half from the high school. One of the students was later identified as Defendant. The students walked to a town square area and Vanyo followed in his patrol car. Vanyo testified the students were seated when they saw him, stood up, and quickly walked toward a stage area in the town square. Later, Vanyo observed Defendant waiting to talk to the attendance secretary and he informed the school principal that Defendant was the other individual he observed in the town square and suspected was involved in drug activity. The principal took Defendant into a detention room and Vanyo followed them. Vanyo testified the principal questioned Defendant, Vanyo testified he told Defendant something like "if you have anything on you, you need to lay it on the table now." Defendant emptied his pockets, which contained a glass pipe and synthetic marijuana. In moving to suppress the evidence, Defendant argued the police failed to advise him of his rights under "Miranda v. Arizona," (384 U.S. 436 (1966)), there was not probable cause justifying the search of his person, and the exception to the probable cause requirement for searches by school officials did not apply. The district court denied the motion, ruling the reasonableness standard for searches by school officials applied and the search was reasonable. Defendant then entered a conditional guilty plea and reserved his right to appeal the court's denial of his suppression motion. Upon review, the Supreme Court concluded that the search was not excessively intrusive in light of Defendant's age, gender, and nature of the suspicion. View "North Dakota v. Alaniz" on Justia Law

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K.H. appealed juvenile court order that extended the placement of his daughter T.H. in the custody and control of Barnes County Social Services and an order that denied his motion to dismiss. On appeal, K.H. argued the juvenile court lacked jurisdiction, applied the wrong standard of proof in finding the child was deprived in 2008, erred in allowing his plea to the allegations of deprivation, the duration of the deprivation proceedings was excessive, and in finding the child continues to be deprived. Finding that the juvenile court did not abuse its discretion, the Supreme Court affirmed. View "Interest of T.H." on Justia Law

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R.G., father of A.L., appealed a juvenile court order confirming a judicial referee's decision to terminate his parental rights to four minor children. In 2003, R.G. was placed on criminal probation, and in March 2009, his probation was revoked and he was sentenced to a three-year prison term. In September 2009, R.G.'s four children involved in this action were all less than four years old and were residing with their mother when the children were taken into protective custody by Benson County Social Services and placed in foster care after the mother left the children with relatives and did not return. In May 2010, the State petitioned to terminate the parental rights of R.G. and the mother. In August 2010, the juvenile court terminated the mother's parental rights and also found the children were deprived as to R.G., but the evidence was not sufficient to terminate his parental rights. The juvenile court stated R.G. was anticipating being paroled in January 2011 with release to a halfway house for three to four months. The court also stated R.G.'s early release was contingent upon his completion of a drug and alcohol treatment program. After a hearing, a judicial referee terminated R.G.'s parental rights to the four children, finding R.G. was not granted his early parole as anticipated because he had not yet completed his drug and alcohol treatment program due to his conduct in the prison facility. Upon review, the Supreme Court concluded the court did not clearly err in finding the children were deprived, and did not abuse its discretion in terminating R.G.'s parental rights. View "Interest of A.L." on Justia Law

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Defendant Ben Simons appealed a district court judgment that affirmed an order of the Department of Human Services which found that he had abused his two-year-old child and that services were required. Defendant and his wife Traci required their children to always respond to a parent in a respectful manner and to use the phrases "yes, sir" or "yes, ma'am." In 2009, while the Simons family was attending church, their two-year-old child refused to use the phrases "yes, sir" and "yes, ma'am" when responding to his parents. Defendant took the child outside and swatted him twice on his bottom. When they went back inside, Traci Simons was able to get the child to say "yes, sir" and "yes, ma'am." Later that evening, after returning home, the child again refused to respond to Defendant with "yes, sir." Defendant took the child to an upstairs bedroom and explained to him that he would be spanked if he did not say "yes, sir." When the child continued his refusal, Defendant placed him over his knee and struck him on his buttocks three times with a wooden backscratcher. The child was wearing pants and a diaper. Defendant then hugged and consoled the child for approximately fifteen minutes, explained the consequences if he refused to say "yes, sir," and emphasized to the child that he needed to show respect to his parents. He then gave the child the opportunity to say "yes, sir," and the child again refused. Defendant repeated the three swats with the wooden backscratcher, and again consoled and spoke with the child for approximately fifteen minutes. Two days later, Stark County Social Services received a report of suspected child abuse regarding the child. A social worker investigated the report and observed the bruises on the child's buttocks. Upon completion of the investigation, Stark County Social Services found the child was an abused child and issued a "services required" finding. Upon review, the Supreme Court affirmed, concluding the Department's findings that Defendant had inflicted bodily injury upon the child and used unreasonable force were supported by a preponderance of the evidence and the relevant statutory provisions governing child abuse were not unconstitutionally overbroad or vague. View "Simons v. North Dakota" on Justia Law

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Steve Wolt appealed from an order denying his motion to amend a divorce judgment. In January 2010, the juvenile court found the two oldest Wolt children deprived because of Steve Wolt's "intentional and systematic efforts to alienate the children from [their mother] Kathy and to undermine Kathy's custody, authority and control of the children." The court found "these actions motivated [the two older children] to engage in unruly conduct, which in turn, caused them to be adjudicated as unruly children and placed in foster care." The juvenile court also found that "[w]ith regard to Kathy, the children are deprived because the alienation and disrespect that Steve has instilled in [the oldest children] towards Kathy, have caused such a serious disruption in their relations that Kathy can no longer provide proper parental care and control for [them], even though she obviously wishe[d] to do so." Steve Wolt argued the district court erred in denying him an evidentiary hearing on his motion to amend the judgment to change primary residential responsibility with regard to his third child who remained in his ex-wife's custody. He argued he was entitled to an evidentiary hearing because he established a prima facie case under state law. Upon review, the Supreme Court concluded the district court did not err in denying an evidentiary hearing on his motion to award him primary residential responsibility of his children and did not err in awarding Kathy Wolt attorney's fees. The Court also concluded, however, the district court erred in denying Steve Wolt a hearing on his motion to amend his parenting time. Accordingly, the Court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded the case for further proceedings. View "Wolt v. Wolt" on Justia Law