Justia Juvenile Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Indiana
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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals reversing the judgment of the trial court denying T.D.'s motion for relief from judgment under Trial Rules 60(B)(6) and 60(B)(8) asserting that his juvenile adjudication should be set aside because his delinquency admission was not knowing, intelligent, or voluntary, holding that there was no error.T.D. agreed to admit to an auto-theft charge. Without informing T.D. of his constitutional rights or confirming that he waived those rights the court accepted T.D.'s admission and granted the delinquency petition. T.D. later filed a motion for relief from judgment, arguing that he was not "informed of a single right on the record." The trial court denied the motion, concluding that his admission was voluntary and knowingly given with adequate assistance of counsel. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that T.D. made a prima facie showing that the trial court failed to comply with the Juvenile Waiver Statute before accepting his admission, and therefore, the trial court abused its discretion by denying T.D.'s motion for relief from judgment. View "T.D. v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the juvenile court denying Appellant's request for relief under Trial Rule 60(B)(6), holding that the new jurisdictional rule announced in K.C.G. v. State, 156 N.E.3d 1281 (Ind. 2020), does not apply retroactively in a collateral attack to render a final delinquency adjudication void.Prior to 2021, the Juvenile Code defined a "delinquent act" only as an act committed by a child "that would be an offense if committed by an adult." In K.C.G., the Supreme Court concluded that Ind. Code 35-47-10-5 (the dangerous-possession-of-a-firearm statute) expressly applied only to child and thus could never be committed by an adult. At issue in this case was whether the jurisdictional rule announced in K.C.G. applies retroactively to collaterally attack a final delinquency adjudication as void. The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the juvenile court in this case denying the relief sought by Appellant under Trial Rule 60(B)(6), holding that this Court's K.C.G. decision does not apply retroactively. View "M.H. v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court against the State on the State's delinquency petition that it filed against Anthony Neukam, holding that neither the juvenile court nor the circuit court had jurisdiction in this case.Neukam allegedly molested his young cousin both before and after he was eighteen. When Nuekam was twenty, the State brought charges against him in criminal court. When Neukam was twenty-two, the State filed a delinquency petition in juvenile court for acts Neukam allegedly committed before turning eighteen. Thereafter, the Supreme Court decided that juvenile courts lack jurisdiction over delinquency petitions once the accused is age twenty-one. The State then dismissed the juvenile case and moved to amend the criminal case to add counts of child molesting Neukam allegedly committed before he was eighteen. The trial court denied the motion. The court of appeals affirmed, concluding that courts lack jurisdiction when an individual is alleged to have committed a delinquent act before turning eighteen but is over twenty-one when the State files charges. The Supreme Court granted transfer and affirmed, holding that no court had jurisdiction over the charges arising from arising from Neukam's alleged misconduct before his eighteenth birthday. View "State v. Neukam" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court convicting Defendant of attempted murder, holding that the trial court did not err in not allowing Defendant's mother as a witness to stay in the courtroom during Defendant's trial.Defendant was fifteen years old when he was waived into adult criminal court and convicted. Before trial, the State listed Defendant's mother as a potential witness, and at trial, the State requested a separation of witnesses order. The court ordered Defendant's mother to leave the courtroom, and the State never called her to testify. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) a child in adult criminal court may use Ind. R. Evid. 615(c) to establish that a parent is "essential" to the presentation of the defense and is thus excluded from a witness separation order; (2) Defendant did not make the requisite showing under the rule; (3) Defendant waived his argument that a juvenile defendant has a due process right to have a parent present for criminal proceedings; and (4) Defendant's challenges to his sentence were unavailing. View "Harris v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court vacated K.C.G.'s delinquency adjudication and the modification of his probation based on that adjudication, holding that the juvenile court lacked subject matter jurisdiction.The delinquency at issue alleged that sixteen-year-old K.C.G. committed the offense of dangerous possession of a firearm in violation of Ind. Code 35-47-10-5. The juvenile court adjudicated K.C.G. a delinquent and modified his probation. On appeal, Defendant argued that the plain terms of the dangerous-possession statute showed it could not be a delinquent act. The Supreme Court vacated the delinquency adjudication, holding that because the statute defines the offense solely in terms of a "child" with an unauthorized firearm, the dangerous-possession statute does not apply to adults, and therefore, the State's petition did not allege a jurisdictional prerequisite - that K.C.G.'s conduct was "an act that would be an offense if committed by an adult." View "K.C.G. v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed Defendant's maximum 138-year sentence imposed for crimes Defendant committed as a juvenile and revised the sentence to a total sentence of eighty-eight years, holding that the 138-year sentence was inappropriate.Defendant was seventeen years old when he and two others committed murder in 1991. Defendant received an aggregate sentence of 138 years, which was the maximum possible term-of-years sentence. In 2016, Defendant filed a verified petition for post-conviction relief challenging the propriety of his sentence in light of the fact that he was a juvenile when he committed the crimes. The post-conviction court granted the petition and imposed an aggregate sixty-eight-year sentence. The Supreme Court affirmed the order granting relief and revisited its prior decision regarding the appropriateness of his sentence but revised the sentence to an aggregate term of eighty-eight years, holding (1) the doctrine of res judicata does not bar consideration of Defendant's appropriateness argument due to two major shifts in the law; and (2) Defendant's maximum term-of-years sentence imposed for crimes he committed as a juvenile was inappropriate. View "State v. Stidham" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court vacated the juvenile court's adjudication of K.C.G. as a delinquent child for dangerously possessing a firearm, as well as its modification of K.C.G.'s probation based on that ruling, holding that the juvenile court lacked subject-matter jurisdiction.The delinquency petition here alleged that K.C.G., age sixteen, committed the offense of dangerous possession of a firearm. After a hearing, the juvenile court adjudicated him a delinquent and modified his probation. The Supreme Court vacated the adjudication, holding that the juvenile court lacked subject-matter jurisdiction because the State's petition did not allege a jurisdictional prerequisite - that K.C.G.'s conduct was "an act that would be an offense if committed by an adult." View "K.C.G. v. State" on Justia Law

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In these consolidated appeals, the Supreme Court held that under the clear and unambiguous language of several relevant statutes, a juvenile court did not have subject matter jurisdiction to waive two individuals into adult criminal court because neither fit the definition of a "child" at the time their respective delinquency petitions were filed.The State filed juvenile delinquency petitions against D.P. and N.B. for committing, when they were under the age of eighteen, what would be felony child molesting if committed by an adult. Both individuals were twenty-one or older at the time the delinquency petitions were filed. The State requested that D.P. and N.B. be waived into adult criminal court, and D.P. and N.B. moved to dismiss their respective cases for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The motion to dismiss was denied in D.P.'s case and was granted in N.B.'s case. The Supreme Court affirmed the juvenile court's dismissal in N.B. and reversed in D.P. and remanded with instructions to grant the motion to dismiss, holding that a juvenile court does not have subject matter jurisdiction to waive an alleged delinquent offender into adult criminal court if the individual is no longer a "child." View "D.P. v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the juvenile court committing fifteen-year-old A.M. to the Department of Correction (DOC), holding that A.M. failed to demonstrate that he received ineffective assistance of counsel under the circumstances of this case.After a true finding of disorderly conduct, A.M. was placed on supervised probation. But due to A.M.'s conduct, the probation department recommended his placement with the DOC. After a disposition modification hearing, the juvenile court committed A.M. to the DOC for an indeterminate period. On appeal, A.M. argued that his attorney rendered ineffective assistance during the modification hearing. At issue in this case was whether the standard for deciding the claim was founded in the Sixth Amendment's right to counsel for a criminal proceeding or in the Fourteenth Amendment's due process clause. The Supreme Court held (1) a due process standard governs a child's claim that he received ineffective assistance in a disposition-modification hearing during his delinquency proceedings; and (2) A.M. received effective assistance of counsel during his modification hearing. View "A.M. v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court making two teenagers wards of the Indiana Department of Correction, holding that the teenagers failed to show that their remote participation in their hearings resulted in fundamental error but closed this opinion with guidance so that this procedural story would not be repeated.The teenagers in this case each appeared by Skype at a hearing to decide whether their juvenile dispositional decrees should be modified to make them wards of the Department of Correction. The teenagers did not object to participating remotely, but nothing in the record indicated that they agreed to do so or that the trial court found good cause for the remote participation. Both teenagers were made wards of the Department of Correction after the hearings. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Indiana Administrative Rule 14(B) governs the use of telephones and audiovisual telecommunication tools in juvenile disposition-modification hearings; but (2) because the teenagers failed to object to the court's noncompliance with Rule 14(B) and failed to demonstrate fundamental error, the teenagers waived the issue. View "C.S. v. State" on Justia Law