Justia Juvenile Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Pennsylvania Supreme Court
Pennsylvania v. In the Interest of M.W.
In this discretionary appeal, the Supreme Court considered whether under Pennsylvania’s Juvenile Act, a juvenile court is required to enter on the record an adjudication of delinquency once it has determined the juvenile committed the acts alleged in the delinquency petition, or whether the court must make an additional finding that the juvenile is in need of treatment, supervision, or rehabilitation, prior to entering an adjudication of delinquency. In 2007, the Commonwealth filed a delinquency petition against M.W. alleging that he and another youth robbed an individual who had just left a local bar. At an adjudicatory hearing, the juvenile court found that M.W. committed robbery, conspiracy, and related charges. Later that same day, M.W. was adjudicated delinquent by another juvenile court judge on a separate delinquency theft petition, and M.W. was committed for treatment, rehabilitation, and supervision. After a hearing on the first petition, the trial court discharged the delinquency petition stemming from the robbery offense, noting that M.W. "will be adjudicated on the [theft] petition. He will still receive treatment and supervision." The Commonwealth filed a motion for reconsideration, which was denied. The Commonwealth then appealed to the Superior Court, where it argued that the juvenile court abused its discretion and violated the requirements of the Juvenile Act by failing to adjudicate M.W. delinquent once it found that M.W. had committed the acts alleged in the original delinquency petition. Upon review, the Court held that the Juvenile Act requires a juvenile court to find both: (1) that the juvenile has committed a delinquent act; and (2) that the juvenile is in need of treatment, supervision, or rehabilitation, before the juvenile court may enter an adjudication of delinquency. In this case, the Court reversed the decision of the Superior Court. View "Pennsylvania v. In the Interest of M.W." on Justia Law
Pennsylvania v. Hart
n this appeal, the issue before the Supreme Court was whether the mere offer of an automobile ride to a child constituted an attempt to “lure” the child under Section 2910 of Pennsylvania’s Criminal Code, entitled “Luring a child into a motor vehicle or structure.” Appellant was charged with four counts of harassment, stalking, and attempted luring of a child into a motor vehicle for offering two neighborhood boys a ride to school in Appellant's own neighborhood. He had seen the children in the neighborhood, and offered them short rides to school or to the store. The children declined, and Appellant made no further attempt to "help." Appellant was acquitted of the charged at a bench trial because the judge "expressly stated she found no evidence that Appellant had any intent to harm the children, and that she believed 'the circumstances show no reason to believe that this defendant had any evil or improper intent in doing what he did.'” However, on the sole basis of Appellant’s offer of the rides, she convicted him on all four counts of attempted luring. The trial court found that “[Appellant’s] offer of a ride to the victims is sufficient to constitute an attempt to ‘lure.’” The trial court subsequently sentenced Appellant to 18 months’ probation. As an automatic result of his convictions, Appellant was statutorily mandated to register for ten years as a sex offender under Megan’s Law. Appellant filed an appeal to the Superior Court, arguing that the evidence was insufficient as a matter of law to sustain his conviction, because his offer of a ride to the children, by itself, did not constitute a “lure” or an attempt to “lure,” given that he did not offer the children any enticement to get into his car, nor did he command or otherwise threaten them. Appellant also argued that he had no ill intent in offering the children a ride, but, rather, was merely acting as a “disabled Good Samaritan.” After careful review, the Supreme Court concluded that an attempt to “lure” does not include the action of simply extending an offer of an automobile ride to a child, when it is unaccompanied by any other enticement or inducement for the child to enter the motor vehicle. Consequently, the Court reversed Appellant's conviction for attempted luring. View "Pennsylvania v. Hart" on Justia Law
In Re: Kelsey Miller
Kelsey Lauren Miller was the sole minor child of Appellant Kristi George (Mother) and Wesley Miller (Father). After the parents divorced, they shared joint legal custody of Kelsey until the Father died in April 2007. Although the Father died intestate, he had designated Kelsey as the sole beneficiary of his Federal Employee Group Life Insurance Policy valued at $356,000. The Father’s sister, Appellee Pamela Wahal, served as the administratrix of his estate. In late 2007, Appellee, as the "next friend" of Kelsey, filed a petition for the appointment of a limited guardian of Kelsey’s estate, asserting that Kelsey lacked the "necessary knowledge and maturity to manage the funds to which she is entitled following her father’s death." Appellee proposed that her attorney be appointed to serve as the limited guardian. The Mother filed a response to Appellee’s petition, denying the need for the appointment of a limited guardian of Kelsey’s estate. The issue presented on appeal to the Supreme Court in this case was whether a parent has legal standing to challenge the appointment of a guardian for her child’s estate. Upon review, the Court held that a parent does have standing. The Court reversed the Superior Court's order appointing a trustee, and remanded the case for further proceedings. View "In Re: Kelsey Miller" on Justia Law