Articles Posted in Supreme Court of California

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The first clause of Cal. Welf. & Inst. Code 300(b)(1) authorizes a juvenile court to exercise dependency jurisdiction over a child without a finding that a parent is at fault or blameworthy for her failure or inability to supervise or protect her child. The court of appeal also concluded that section 300(b)(1)’s first clause does not require such a finding. In this case, the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services filed a petition to declare then seventeen-year-old R.T. a dependent of the juvenile court on the ground that she faced a substantial risk of serious physical harm or illness as a result of Mother’s failure or inability adequately to supervise or protect her. The juvenile court asserted jurisdiction over R.T. The court of appeal affirmed the jurisdictional and dispositional orders of the juvenile court. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that when a child’s behavior places her at substantial risk of serious physical harm and a parent is unable to protect or supervise that child, the juvenile court’s assertion of jurisdiction is authorized under section 300(b)(1). View "In re R.T." on Justia Law

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The Presiding Judge of the Los Angeles County Superior Court, Juvenile Division, issued a protocol addressing the process by which minors are found incompetent and later found to have attained competency. The Supreme Court of California held that although trial courts are not barred from adopting such protocols as guidance or as local rules, the Court of Appeal was correct that the protocol does not presumptively or otherwise define due process. The court declined to decide whether the length of detention in this case violated due process and instead held that any violation was not prejudicial in light of the juvenile court's finding of malingering. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "In re Albert C." on Justia Law

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Neither People v. Arbuckle, 587 P.2d 220 (Cal. 1978), nor its progeny support the view that a defendant’s ability to enforce the guarantee that the judge who accepts a plea bargain will impose the sentence (the same-judge guarantee) is dependent on a defendant first making a factual showing that she or he objectively intended the judge taking the plea would also pronounce sentence. K.R., a juvenile, admitted two probation violations. During continued disposition hearings, K.R. filed a petition for writ of mandate requesting that the same-judge guarantee be enforced. K.R.’s claim was denied under Arbuckle, the judge finding that K.R. did not have a reasonable expectation that the judge who accepted his plea would also impose the disposition. The court of appeal agreed and denied K.R.’s petition for writ of mandate. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the plain and original understanding of Arbuckle is that in every plea in both adult and juvenile court, an implied term is that the judge who accepts the plea will be the judge who pronounces sentence; and (2) should the People wish to allow a different judge to preside at sentencing, or, in juvenile cases, disposition, they should seek to obtain a waiver from the pleading defendant or juvenile. View "K.R. v. Superior Court of Sacramento County" on Justia Law

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Defendant, sixteen-years-old at the time of the offense, was convicted of first degree murder and sentenced to life in state prison with the possibility of parole after 50 years. After plaintiff was sentenced, the United States Supreme Court held in Miller v. Alabama that the Eighth Amendment to the federal Constitution prohibits a mandatory life without parole (LWOP) sentence for a juvenile offender who commits homicide. This court then held in People v. Caballero that the prohibition on life without parole sentences for all juvenile nonhomicide offenders established in Graham v. Florida applied to sentences that were the functional equivalent of a life without parole sentence, including Caballero‘s term of 110 years to life. In this case, the court held that Penal Code section 3051 and section 4801 moot defendant‘s constitutional challenge to his sentence by requiring that he receive a parole hearing during his 25th year of incarceration. In light of this holding, the court need not decide whether a life sentence with parole eligibility after 50 years of incarceration is the functional equivalent of an LWOP sentence and, if so, whether it is unconstitutional in defendant‘s case. Therefore, the court affirmed the sentence. The court remanded so that the trial court may determine whether defendant was afforded sufficient opportunity to make a record at sentencing of mitigating evidence tied to his youth. View "People v. Franklin" on Justia Law

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A grand jury returned an indictment against Defendant on charges of conspiracy to commit murder and active participation in a criminal street gang. The grand jury found reasonable cause to believe that Defendant came within the provisions of Cal. Welf. & Inst. Code 707(d)(4). Defendant initially pleaded not guilty but later demurred to the indictment, arguing that section 707(d)(4) requires a determination that a juvenile qualifies for prosecution in adult court, and because he was a juvenile at the time of the alleged offenses, the grand jury had no legal authority to inquire into the charged offenses. The trial court agreed with Defendant, allowed him to withdraw his plea, and sustained his demurrer. The court of appeal reversed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that section 707(d) allows prosecutors the option of filing charges against certain juveniles accused of specified offenses in criminal court by grand jury indictment. View "People v. Arroyo" on Justia Law