Justia Juvenile Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Washington Supreme Court
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Petitioner Li’Anthony Williams was 17 years old in 2001 when he pleaded guilty to assault in the second degree with sexual motivation and was sentenced under the indeterminate sentencing scheme for sex offenders. The trial court imposed the statutory maximum term of life with a minimum term at the bottom of the three to nine month standard range. Williams was transferred to the Department of Corrections (DOC) with the understanding that his release date would be determined by the Indeterminate Sentence Review Board (ISRB or Board). The ISRB found Williams was not releasable. Williams in turn filed a personal restraint petition (PRP) on grounds that his maximum term of life sentence was unconstitutional and that he was sentenced to a nonexistent crime. Williams also argued his petition was not barred by the one-year time limit for two reasons: (1) his claim was based on Washington v. Houston-Sconiers, 391 P.3d 409 (2017), which was a significant, material change of law that should be retroactively applied; and (2) his conviction was invalid on its face. The Washington Supreme Court disagreed with both claims: Williams’ petition failed to meet the time bar exception under RCW 10.73.100(6) because his sentence did not violate the substantive rule of Houston-Sconiers; therefore, Houston-Sconiers was not material to Williams’ claim. Furthermore, Williams’ petition did not meet the exception under RCW 10.73.090 because the State’s failure to specify the intended felony underlying the conviction on the judgment and sentence (J&S) did not render the J&S invalid on its face. The Court therefore dismissed Williams’ petition as untimely. View "In re Pers. Restraint of Williams" on Justia Law

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Javier Garza was found guilty of third degree rape when he was 17 years old. Twenty-five years after his adjudication, Garza successfully petitioned for relief from registering as a sex offender. Garza then moved to vacate and seal his juvenile adjudication under RCW 13.50.260(3). The court found it had no authority to vacate juvenile adjudications under this provision and denied the motion. The Court of Appeals affirmed on different grounds, holding that because RCW 13.50.260(3) applied only to “order[s] and findings,” juvenile adjudications did not qualify because adjudications were judgments, not orders. The issue this case presented for the Washington Supreme Court's review was whether a juvenile adjudication could be vacated and sealed under RCW 13.50.260(3). Because the plain language of the statute grants trial courts discretion to vacate and seal both adjudications and diversions, the Supreme Court held that juvenile adjudications could be vacated and sealed under RCW 13.50.260(3). The Court reversed the Court of Appeals and remanded for a new hearing. View "Washington v. Garza" on Justia Law

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Tonelli Anderson petitioned the Washington Supreme Court for review of his 61-year sentence he received for two first degree murders committed at age 17. Anderson asked the Court to find his sentence was unconstitutionally cruel under the Washington constitution, arguing that Washington v. Haag announced a bright line rule that no juvenile offender could ever receive a sentence of 46 years or longer, no matter how serious or numerous their crimes might be. The Supreme Court agreed that Haag limited the category of juvenile offenders who could receive a de facto life without parole (LWOP) sentence, but when the offender’s crimes do not reflect those “mitigating qualities of youth,” Washington’s constitution does not bar a de facto LWOP sentence. In light of the evidence presented at trial, the Supreme Court concluded the trial court appropriately determined Anderson’s crimes did not reflect “youthful immaturity, impetuosity, or failure to appreciate risks and consequences.” Therefore his sentence was affirmed. View "Washington v. Anderson" on Justia Law

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Petitioner Antoine Davis was 21 when he was convicted of first degree murder and second degree attempted murder. He received a standard range sentence of 767 months. Davis filed this personal restraint petition (PRP) more than one year after his judgment and sentence finalized, contending it was. timely for two reasons: (1) In re Personal Restraint of Monschke, 482 P.3d 276 (2021) constituted a significant, material, and retroactive change in law that applied to his de facto life sentence; and (2) recent advances in neuroscience for late-aged adolescents qualified as newly discovered evidence. The Washington Supreme Court found: (1) Monschke applied to 19- and 20-year-old defendants; and (2) Davis did not satisfy any of the statutory criteria that exempted his petition from the one-year time bar. View "In re Pers. Restraint of Davis" on Justia Law

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When Petitioner Andrew Kennedy was 19 years old, he killed his cousin’s 11-month-old daughter while she was in his care. Following a bench trial in 2007, the court convicted Kennedy of homicide by abuse and sentenced him to 380 months in confinement. Kennedy’s judgment and sentence became final after direct appeal in 2009. In 2019, he filed this personal restraint petition (PRP) seeking to be resentenced based on “[n]ewly discovered evidence.” Kennedy argued that advancements in the scientific understanding of adolescent brain development for young adults since his 2007 sentencing would have probably changed the trial court’s discretionary sentencing decision by allowing him to argue for a mitigated sentence based on youthfulness. The Court of Appeals dismissed Kennedy’s PRP as time barred, concluding that scientific evidence supporting such an argument for young adults Kennedy’s age was available at the time of sentencing. After the Washington Supreme Court granted Kennedy’s motion for discretionary review, he raised a second argument for relief based on the “significant change in the law” exemption to the time bar. The Supreme Court found Kennedy's PRP meet neither exemption to the time bar. View "In re Pers. Restraint of Kennedy" on Justia Law

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M.Y.G. was 15 years old when he stole two cars. The State charged him with two counts of theft of a motor vehicle. M.Y.G. moved for and was granted a deferred disposition, but he objected to providing a DNA sample. The trial court ordered M.Y.G. to submit a DNA sample but stayed collection pending appeal. The Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court, upholding the DNA collection. I.A.S. was 17 years old and under the influence of alcohol when he stole a truck, crashed it into a tree, and ran from the scene. The State charged him with one count of second degree burglary, theft of a motor vehicle, second degree theft, driving under the influence, and failure to remain at the scene of an accident. I.A.S. moved for and was granted a deferred disposition. He too objected to providing a DNA sample, but the court ordered him to submit one, staying collection pending his appeal. The Court of Appeal again affirmed the trial court, requiring I.A.S. to give a DNA sample. I.A.S. and M.Y.G. appealed, presenting the question of whether a juvenile was “convicted” when they enter into a deferred disposition. The Washington Supreme Court held that a juvenile is “convicted” when they enter into a deferred disposition. However, the Court held that the juvenile offenses committed by the petitioners in this case did not trigger the DNA collection statute. Therefore, the Supreme Court affirmed the Court of Appeals in part and reversed in part. The orders requiring a DNA sample from M.Y.G. and I.A.S were vacated. View "Washington v. M.Y.G." on Justia Law

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In 1995, petitioner Timothy Haag was sentenced to mandatory life without parole for a crime he committed at the age of 17. In 2018, at a Miller-fix resentencing conducted pursuant to RCW 10.95.030, the resentencing court expressly found that “Haag is not irretrievably depraved nor irreparably corrupt.” Yet the court resentenced Haag to a term of 46 years to life; the earliest that he could be released is at the age of 63. Haag sought review by the Washington Supreme Court, arguing that the trial court erroneously emphasized retribution over mitigation and that his sentence amounted to an unconstitutional de facto life sentence. To this, the Supreme Court agreed, holding the resentencing court erred because it gave undue emphasis to retributive factors over mitigating factors. The Court also held Haag’s 46-year minimum term amounts to an unconstitutional de facto life sentence. Judgment was reversed and the matter remanded for resentencing. View "Washington v. Haag" on Justia Law

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In November 2017, M.S. was charged with third degree assault of a King County Metro bus driver. M.S. approached the driver’s side window of a King County bus while it was parked. When the bus driver leaned out the driver’s side window to speak to M.S., M.S. squirted urine from a plastic bottle at the bus driver. M.S. pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of fourth degree assault and requested a deferred disposition of the criminal assault charge. The court also asked M.S. if he understood that the court could impose a manifest injustice sentence outside the standard range if it found aggravating factors. The court did not mention at the hearing or in the plea agreement any existing aggravating factors it could rely on if it did impose a manifest injustice sentence. The court granted M.S.’s request for a deferred disposition and in it required M.S. to comply with a number of conditions of community supervision. The trial court ultimately sentenced M.S. to a manifest injustice disposition based on facts and aggravating factors that M.S. had no notice of at the time of his plea. The Court of Appeals affirmed M.S.’s sentence and rejected M.S.’s argument that any right to notice of the factual basis of a manifest injustice disposition existed prior to pleading guilty. The issue this case presented for the Washington Supreme Court's review centered on whether a juvenile, before entering a guilty plea in a criminal proceeding, had a statutory or constitutional due process right to notice of the factual basis of and the intent to seek a manifest injustice disposition. The Supreme Court reversed the Court of Appeals and held that a juvenile has a right to notice of the factual basis necessary to support a manifest injustice sentence before deciding to plead guilty. View "Washington v. M.S." on Justia Law

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In 2017, D.L., a 14-year-old boy, was charged with three counts of first degree rape and one count of attempted first degree rape of his 5-year-old half brother. At the time, D.L. had no prior criminal history. D.L. successfully negotiated a plea deal with the prosecutor, reducing the charges to a single count of first degree attempted child molestation. D.L. stipulated in his plea agreement that the trial court could use the probable cause statement to determine the facts that supported his conviction. But when the court imposed the manifest injustice disposition, it relied on three facts that were not in the probable cause affidavit: (1) that D.L.’s victim had a cognitive disability; (2) that D.L. refused accountability; and (3) that D.L. would not cooperate with treatment. This case asked the Washington Supreme Court whether due process required that the State give a juvenile notice of these specific facts before pleading guilty if they will be used to justify a manifest injustice disposition. "Ultimately, due process requires that juveniles be treated in a manner that is fundamentally fair. ... Without adequate notice, juveniles and their attorneys cannot predict which facts might be unearthed and weaponized to extend the juvenile’s sentence after the plea. This lack of notice causes unfair surprise to young defendants and serves only to undermine juveniles’ and their families’ trust in our juvenile justice system. Our adult defendants in Washington are not treated so unfairly and neither should we so treat our juveniles." As a result, the manifest injustice disposition was improperly imposed. As D.L. already served his sentence and this case was technically moot; the Court resolved this legal issue without modifying D.L.’s sentence. View "Washington v. D.L." on Justia Law

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Petitioners Dwayne Bartholomew and Kurtis Monschke were each convicted of aggravated first degree murder and sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole - a mandatory, nondiscretionary sentence under Washington’s aggravated murder statute. Bartholomew was 20 years old; Monschke was 19. Many years after their convictions, each filed a personal restraint petition (PRP) asking the Washington Supreme Court to consider whether article I, section 14 of the state constitution or the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution permitted a mandatory life without parole (LWOP) sentence for youthful defendants like themselves. "[W]hen it comes to mandatory LWOP sentences, [Miller v. United States, 567 U.S. 460 (2012)]'s constitutional guarantee of an individualized sentence - one that considers the mitigating qualities of youth - must apply to defendants at least as old as these defendants were at the time of their crimes." Accordingly, the Supreme Court granted both PRPs and ordered that Bartholomew and Monschke each receive a new sentencing hearing. View "In re Pers. Restraint of Monschke" on Justia Law