Justia Juvenile Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Wisconsin Supreme Court
State v. Hinkle
The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the circuit court's order denying Defendant's postconviction motion, holding that the circuit court properly exercised adult court criminal jurisdiction over Defendant, who was then sixteen years old, based on another circuit court's prior decision to waive Defendant from juvenile court to adult court.In his postconviction motion Defendant argued that Wis. Stat. 938.183(1) did not give the circuit court competency to proceed over the juvenile counts because, for the circuit court to waive Defendant without a waiver hearing, the statute required a prior waiver by that particular circuit court. Thus, Defendant argued, the circuit court improperly relied on the other circuit court's waiver, never acquired adult-court jurisdiction over Defendant, and thus lacked competency to preside over Defendant's case in adult court. The circuit court denied the motion. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that section 938.183(1) conferred exclusive original adult criminal jurisdiction over Defendant based on the other circuit court's prior waiver. View "State v. Hinkle" on Justia Law
State v. A.L.
The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals reversing the decision of the circuit court denying the State’s motion to recall A.L.’s juvenile delinquency proceedings, holding that the court of appeals correctly reversed the circuit court’s decision.Specifically, the Court held (1) a circuit court can resume suspended juvenile delinquency proceedings to reexamine the competency of a juvenile who was initially found not competent to proceed under Wis. Stat. 938.30(5)(d) and not likely to become competent within the statutory time frame; and (2) the circuit court retains competency over juvenile delinquency proceedings even after an accompanying juvenile in need of protection or services order has expired. View "State v. A.L." on Justia Law
State v. Sanders
Circuit courts possess statutory competency to proceed in criminal matters when the adult defendant was charged for conduct he committed before his tenth birthday.Defendant was charged with four counts of criminal misconduct. Defendant was nine through twelve years old during the time period charged in count one and fourteen through eighteen years old during the time period charged in counts two through four. Defendant was nineteen years old when the charges were filed. The jury acquitted Defendant of count one but convicted him of counts two through four. Defendant brought a postconviction motion alleging that his trial counsel was ineffective for failing to bring a pre-trial motion to dismiss count one. The circuit court denied the motion, concluding that the defendant’s age at the time he is charged, not his age at the time the underlying conduct occurred, determines whether charges are properly brought as a criminal matter. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the circuit court possessed statutory competency to hear Defendant’s case as a criminal matter because he was an adult at the time he was charged; and (2) therefore, Defendant’s counsel did not perform deficiently by failing to raise a meritless motion. View "State v. Sanders" on Justia Law
State v. Tyler T.
The State filed a petition alleging that Tyler T., a juvenile, was delinquent and a petition for waiver of juvenile court jurisdiction over Tyler. The circuit court waived juvenile court jurisdiction over Tyler, and the court of appeals affirmed. Tyler appealed, arguing that the circuit court erred as a matter of law in denying his request to strike a waiver investigation report prepared by the county department of health and human services (DHHS). The DHHS prepared its report after conducting a staffing meeting in which the county assistant district attorney, who filed the petition alleging Tyler's delinquency, participated. Because neither Tyler nor his defense counsel was invited to attend the meeting, Tyler contended that the assistant district attorney's participation in the staffing meeting constituted improper ex parte communication that compromised the objectivity of the waiver investigation report. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court did not err in denying Tyler's request to strike the waiver investigation report prepared by the DHHS, as the DHHS is free to compile information for a waiver investigation report in the manner it deems most beneficial to the circuit court. View "State v. Tyler T." on Justia Law
Madison Metropolitan Sch. Dist. v. Circuit Court for Dane County
The dispute in this case involved a circuit court's order requiring a school district to develop and implement an educational plan for a juvenile who was adjudged delinquent after the district expelled him from school. The court of appeals granted the district a writ of prohibition and vacated the circuit court order, concluding that the circuit court did not act within its authority in entering the order. The Supreme Court affirmed, concluding that (1) the school district had statutory authority to expel the student from school; (2) the circuit court did not have statutory authority to order a school district to provide alternative educational services to a juvenile who had been expelled from school by a lawful and unchallenged expulsion order but was still residing in the community; and (3) the court of appeals did not err in utilizing a supervisory writ to review the district court's order to provide appropriate educational resources in this case. View "Madison Metropolitan Sch. Dist. v. Circuit Court for Dane County" on Justia Law
State v. Ninham
Defendant, 14-years-old at the time of the offense, was convicted of first-degree intentional homicide and physical abuse of a child for the death of a 13-year-old. At issue was whether defendant's sentence of life imprisonment without parole was cruel and unusual in violation of the Eighth Amendment of the United States Constitution and Article I, Section 6 of the Wisconsin Constitution and, in the alternative, whether defendant's sentence should be modified. The court affirmed the sentence, applying a two-step approach employed by the United States Supreme Court in Graham v. Florida, and held that defendant failed to demonstrate that there was a national consensus against sentencing 14-year-olds to life imprisonment without parole when the crime was intentional homicide and that, in the exercise of its own independent judgment, the punishment was not categorically unconstitutional. The court also held that defendant's sentence was not unduly harsh or excessive; that defendant had not demonstrated clear and convincing evidence that the scientific research on adolescent brain development to which he referred constituted a "new factor;" and that defendant had not demonstrated by clear and convincing evidence that the circuit court actually relied on the religious beliefs of the victim's family when imposing defendant's sentence. Accordingly, the court affirmed defendant's sentence of life imprisonment without parole.