Justia Juvenile Law Opinion Summaries

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A.N. was adjudicated delinquent for aggravated incest involving his sister, J.N. The petition charging A.N. alleged that J.N. was between ages seven and eleven, and that A.N. was between twelve and sixteen when the offending acts occurred. The investigation began in 2011 when J.N. submitted a poem she wrote for school expressing her anger at her older brother for molesting her. J.N.’s teacher passed the poem to a social worker who later confirmed with J.N. that she had been sexually abused by her brother. A.N. admitted that he and J.N. engaged in sexual acts but stated it was consensual. The Louisiana Supreme Court granted a writ in this matter primarily to address the constitutionality of mandatory lifetime sex offender registration as applied to a juvenile. Finding that A.N. did not have a right to file for post-conviction relief because he was not in custody at the time of his application, the Supreme Court affirmed the denial of A.N.’s post-conviction relief application by the juvenile court. Since A.N. was denied relief on the basis of custody, all remaining issues presented by his writ application, including whether R.S. 15:542 is unconstitutional under the Eighth Amendment, were moot. View "Louisiana in the Interest of A.N." on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeal affirmed the judgment entered after the juvenile court sustained a juvenile delinquency petition for assault with force likely to produce great bodily injury and attempted second degree robbery. The court held that the juvenile defendant's liability as an aider and abettor of the assault was based on his joint participation in an extremely dangerous situation that he helped create. In this case, defendant entered into the convenient store with his codefendant and escaped together; the jury could reasonably infer that they were jointly engaged in a robbery; and the natural and probable consequences of which included resistance by any of the defendants to avoid capture. The court rejected defendant's non-developed brain theory contention, and held that this contention confused criminal capacity with aider and abettor liability which focuses on whether a criminal act was a natural and probable consequence of another criminal act. View "People v. R.C." on Justia Law

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At 11:20 p.m., Gosuwin, carrying a pursed and holding an iPhone, saw two “young black men” wearing hoodies coming around the corner. One pushed her to the ground. The assailants pulled her bag and phone away, then continued on Market Street toward the Embarcadero. Gosuwin went to a nearby building, where a security guard called the police. Gosuwin did not see any weapons on her assailants. An officer used the “Find My iPhone app.” Gosuwin’s phone was “pinging” on the Embarcadero. Officer found Gosuwin’s purse there. At 11:29 p.m., officers received a dispatch call and went to the area to look for the “robbery suspects.” They noticed Jeremiah and J.A., both juveniles. One was wearing a hoodie. During the ensuing stop, an officer instructed Jeremiah to face a wall with his legs spread and his arms above his head. He did so. There was nothing about Jeremiah’s appearance, behavior, or actions to indicate that Jeremiah was armed and dangerous. A pat-down search revealed two phones in Jeremiah’s pocket. One phone’s background picture and password matched Gosuwin’s phone. The juvenile court denied a motion to suppress and ordered Jeremiah transferred to Alameda County where a previous wardship petition alleging second-degree robbery was pending. The court of appeal reversed the jurisdiction and disposition orders. The officer who conducted the pat-down did not present specific and articulable facts to support a reasonable suspicion that Jeremiah was armed and dangerous. The court declined to recognize a rule that would validate essentially any “pat-search” of a suspected robber who is lawfully detained following a report of a fresh robbery. View "In re Jeremiah S." on Justia Law

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A juvenile from a small village could not afford to travel to the site of his juvenile delinquency proceeding. His attorney with the Public Defender Agency (the Agency) filed a motion asking the superior court to require the Division of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) to pay the travel expenses for both the juvenile and one of his parents. The superior court denied the motion and required the Agency to pay the expenses. The court of appeals upheld the superior court’s decision, reasoning that the Agency’s authorizing statute could plausibly be interpreted to cover client travel expenses and that this reading was supported by administrative guidance in the form of two Attorney General opinions and a regulation governing reimbursements by the Office of Public Advocacy (OPA). The Alaska Supreme Court granted the Agency’s petition for hearing, asking the Agency and DJJ to address two questions: (1) whether the Agency has a statutory obligation to pay its clients’ travel expenses; and (2) whether DJJ has a statutory obligation to pay those expenses. The Supreme Court concluded neither entity’s authorizing statutes required the payment and therefore reversed the court of appeals. The Court did not address the question of how these necessary expenses were to be funded; the Court surmised that was an issue for the executive and legislative branches. View "Alaska Public Defender Agency v. Superior Court" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the habeas court rendering judgment against Petitioner, a juvenile offender, on his claim that the evolution of Connecticut's "standards of decency" regarding acceptable punishments for children who engage in criminal conduct has rendered the transfer of his case to the regular criminal docket and resultant sentencing unconstitutional, holding that Petitioner was not entitled to relief on his claims. Petitioner, who was fourteen years old when he committed felony murder, argued that his sentence as an adult after his case was automatically transferred to the regular criminal docket violated the state prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment. The habeas court denied relief. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) transferring the case of a fourteen year old defendant to the regular criminal docket comports with evolving standards of decency and, therefore, does not violate the Connecticut constitution; and (2) Petitioner's forty year sentence does not violate the constitutional prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment after the provisions of P.A. 15-84 made Petitioner eligible for parole after serving sixty percent of his original sentence. View "Griffin v. Commissioner of Correction" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the Appellate Court affirming the trial court's dismissal of Defendant's motion to correct an illegal sentence, holding that because Defendant is now eligible for parole under No. 15-84 of the 2015 Public Acts (P.A. 15-84) the Connecticut constitution did not require a resentencing of his unconstitutional sentence. Defendant, a juvenile offender, was convicted of murder and sentenced to thirty-five years' imprisonment. At the time of sentence, Defendant was indelible for parole. Thereafter, decisions by the United States and Connecticut Supreme Courts and enactments by the legislature resulted in changes to the sentencing scheme for juvenile offenders. To comply with federal constitutional requirements the legislature passed P.A. 15-84. As a result, Defendant will be parole eligible after serving twenty-one years. Thereafter, Defendant filed a motion to correct an illegal sentence, asserting a violation of Miller v. Alabama, 467 U.S. 460 (2012). The trial court dismissed the motion for lack of jurisdiction. The Appellate Court ultimately affirmed on the ground decided in State v. Delgado, 151 A.3d 345 (Conn. 2016). The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that, consistent with Delgado and the federal constitution, Defendant's parole eligibility afforded by P.A. 15-84, 1 was an adequate remedy for the Miller violation. View "State v. Williams-Bey" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the appellate court affirming the judgment of the trial court denying Defendant's motion to correct an illegal sentence, holding that the legislature may and has remedied the constitutional violation in this case with parole eligibility. Defendant, a juvenile offender, was convicted of murder and other offenses. Defendant was originally sentenced to imprisonment for the functional equivalent of his lifetime without the possibility of parole. Subsequently, decisions by the United States and Connecticut Supreme Courts and enactments by the legislature resulted in changes to the sentencing scheme for juvenile offenders. As a result, Defendant will be parole eligible when he is about fifty years old. Defendant filed a motion to correct an illegal sentence based on Miller v. Alabama, 467 U.S. 460 (2012). The trial court ultimately dismissed the motion, concluding that Defendant's claim was moot in light of the United States Supreme Court's holding that Miller applied retroactively. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) parole eligibility afforded by No. 15-84 of the 2015 Public Acts (P.A. 15-84) is an adequate remedy for a Miller violation under the Connecticut constitution; and (2) P.A. 15-84, 1 does not violate the separation of powers doctrine or Defendant's right to equal protection under the federal constitution. View "State v. McCleese" on Justia Law

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Defendant-appellant O.C., appealed an order denying her petition to seal her juvenile court records and related records in the custody of law enforcement and other agencies. She claimed the court was required to seal her records under Welfare & Institutions Code section 786 because she satisfactorily completed her juvenile court probation in April 2011. The Court of Appeal affirmed denial. O.C. was not qualified to seal her records under section 781 because: (1) she was convicted of six felonies in May 2018, after the juvenile court’s jurisdiction over her terminated in April 2011; and (2) in denying O.C.’s sealing petition, the court found that O.C. had not obtained rehabilitation since April 2011, based on the facts underlying her six felony convictions. View "In re O.C." on Justia Law

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At issue before the Idaho Supreme Court in this matter centered on whether a person bringing a tort claim against a governmental entity for alleged child abuse had to comply with the notice requirement of the Idaho Tort Claims Act. Seven individuals (collectively, the Juveniles) filed suit alleging they had been abused while they were minors in the custody of the Idaho Department of Juvenile Corrections. In its ruling on summary judgment, the district court found the Juveniles’ claims based on Idaho Code section 6-1701 were not barred by the notice requirements of the Idaho Tort Claims Act. The Idaho Department of Juvenile Corrections and its employees moved for permission to appeal, which was granted, and they argued the district court erred by allowing the Juveniles’ claims to proceed. The Idaho Supreme Court held that because of the plain language of the ITCA, the notice requirement applied to claims based on tort actions in child abuse cases. Accordingly, the Court reversed the district court’s decision and remanded the case for further proceedings. View "D.A.F. v. Lieteau and Juvenile Corrections Nampa" on Justia Law

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Michael Damion Jude Medrano was convicted by jury on one count of first-degree murder, two counts of second degree robbery, and one count of assault with force likely to produce great bodily harm. Medrano was 19 years old when he committed the offenses. He was sentenced to 25 years to life, plus seven. Medrano was sentenced in December 2017, one and one-half years after the California Supreme Court decided California v. Franklin, 63 Cal.4th 261 (2016), which held that when a juvenile offender receives an indeterminate life sentence, the offender must be “given adequate opportunity at sentencing to make a record of mitigating evidence tied to his youth.” The Court remanded the case to the trial court to determine whether the juvenile offender had been given an adequate opportunity to make such a record. Medrano asked the Court of Appeal to give him the same relief that was granted in Franklin. But because Medrano was sentenced one and one-half years after Franklin, and because nothing in the record indicated Medrano lacked an adequate opportunity at sentencing to make a record of mitigating youth-related evidence, the Court found no basis to order the same relief that the Supreme Court granted in Franklin. It noted, however, that the Supreme Court recently held that a juvenile offender whose conviction and sentence were final could file a motion under Penal Code section 1203.01 for the purpose of making a record of mitigating youth-related evidence. View "California v. Medrano" on Justia Law