Justia Juvenile Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia
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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the order of the circuit court denying Petitioner's petition for a writ of habeas corpus, holding that the circuit court erred in finding that W.Va. Code 61-11-23(b) of the Juvenile Sentencing Reform Act did not apply retroactively to Petitioner's sentence. Petitioner, who was sixteen years old at the time he committed the offenses, was convicted of sexual assault in the first degree and sexual abuse by a parent, guardian, custodian, or person in a position of trust. The circuit court sentenced Petitioner to an aggregate sentence of thirty-five to seventy-five years of incarceration and fifty years of supervised release. The court further required Petitioner to register as a sexual offender for his lifetime. After the legislature enacted the Act, Petitioner brought this habeas corpus proceeding. The circuit court denied relief. The Supreme Court held (1) the circuit court erred in concluding that the legislature did not intend for section 61-11-23(b) to be applied retroactively; (2) Petitioner failed to establish that the State provided false and perjured testimony; and (3) Petitioner's sentence was not disproportionate. View "Christopher J. v. Ames" on Justia Law

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In this appeal from the judgment of the circuit court placing a juvenile accused of delinquency but found not competent to proceed in a mental health facility for a period of thirty-five years under a competency statute designed to address adult defendants and not juveniles, the Supreme Court dismissed the juvenile's appeal, holding that because new evidence suggested that the juvenile had since been restored to competency, the juvenile's appellate arguments were moot. The Legislature has not created any statutory procedure to protect a juvenile's due process right to competency. In the instant case, the circuit court concluded that W. Va. Code 27-6A-3, a statute addressing the pretrial competency of an adult criminal defendant, applied to J.C.'s juvenile proceeding. The circuit court ordered that J.C. be committed to a mental health facility for a maximum period of thirty-five years, as though J.C. was an adult. J.C. appealed. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal, holding that J.C.'s argument that the circuit court should not have applied section 3 to his case was rendered moot by a report opining that he had attained competency. View "State v. J.C." on Justia Law

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The two petitioners in this case were juveniles who were adjudicated juvenile delinquents for sexual assault. At issue before the circuit court was whether the juveniles should be required to register as lifetime sexual offenders upon reaching the age twenty-one. The circuit court certified two questions to the Supreme Court regarding the sex offender statutes in relation to juvenile offenders. The Supreme Court answered (1) a juvenile adjudicated of certain acts of delinquency is not required to register under the sex offender registration statute; and (2) the nature of the crimes underlying the two juvenile delinquency petitions - first and second degree sexual assault - allows for the public disclosure of the names of the juveniles. View "State v. J.E." on Justia Law