Justia Juvenile Law Opinion Summaries

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The Supreme Court denied the motion for attorney fees and expenses against the State by the intervenor in a juvenile proceeding who successfully appealed a final order during the pendency of the case, holding that the State's limited waiver of sovereign immunity set forth in Neb. Rev. Stat. 25-1804(1) did not apply to the fees and expenses sought.On appeal, the parties disputed whether the juvenile proceedings were a civil action and whether they were brought by the State and whether the State was substantially justified in its position. The Supreme Court held (1) the State's position in bringing and maintaining the underlying petition for adjudication was substantially justified; and (2) accordingly, no statute provided for the recovery of the intervenor's attorney fees and expenses incurred in this appeal. View "In re Interest of A.A." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the dispositional order imposed after an adjudication that juvenile Timothy Silva committed manslaughter, holding that the court did not err in committing him to detention.Silva was sixteen years old when he lost control of a vehicle and caused the death of three passengers and serious injuries to a fourth. The juvenile court adjudicated Silva to have committed one count of manslaughter and committed him to Long Creek Youth Development Center for an undetermined period of up Silva's twenty-first birthday. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that the court's disposition was neither error nor an abuse of discretion. View "State v. Silva" 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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Fifteen-year-old Lucas Orozco was charged with robbery and burglary, both felonies, for allegedly robbing a convenience store. After a magistrate court determined there was probable cause to charge Orozco with the felonies, it waived juvenile jurisdiction and bound him over to district court as an adult pursuant to Idaho Code section 20-509. Orozco objected to this automatic waiver, filing a motion with the district court challenging the constitutionality of section 20-509. The district court denied the motion, relying on precedent from the Idaho Court of Appeals, which previously upheld the constitutionality of section 20-509. Orozco appealed, arguing that the automatic waiver denied him procedural due process protections afforded to him by the U.S. Constitution. Finding no reversible error, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed the district court. View "Idaho v. Orozco" on Justia Law

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Jermontae Moss was convicted of felony murder, possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime, and theft by receiving stolen property in connection with the 2011 shooting death of Jose Marin. At the time of the crime, Moss was 17 years old and sentenced to life without the possibility of parole. On appeal, he contended he received ineffective assistance of trial counsel, and that the court erred in imposing that sentence. Finding no merit to either contention, the Georgia Supreme Court affirmed Moss' conviction and sentence. View "Moss v. Georgia" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the district court dismissing M.M.'s claim seeking to recover compensation for his wrongful 226-day confinement to a juvenile corrections facility, holding that Kan. Stat. Ann. 60-5004 does not allow compensation for wrongful juvenile adjudications.A district magistrate judge found M.M. guilty of aggravated indecent liberties and sentenced him to two years' confinement at a juvenile corrections facility. Thereafter, a district court jury found M.M. not guilty of aggravated indecent liberties and released M.M. back to the custody of his mother. M.M. subsequently filed a petition for certificate of innocence under section 60-5004. The district court dismissed the petition. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the plain language of section 60-5004 unambiguously bars claimants from recovering for wrongful juvenile adjudications. View "In re M.M." on Justia Law

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Father and Mother lived together for a few years and are the parents of Minor, who was born in 2014. By 2018, Mother was raising her children—Minor and Minor’s three older half-siblings—on her own, and she did not know Father’s whereabouts. The Alameda County Social Services Agency filed a juvenile dependency petition on behalf of the children, listing Father’s name but stating his address was unknown. On November 12, 2019, the Agency filed a status review report for the six-month review hearing; 13 months after the original petition was filed, the Agency first listed an address for Father as the California State Prison. Father subsequently was deemed Minor’s presumed father and was released from custody. The juvenile court summarily denied his motion under Welfare and Institutions Code section 388 to set aside prior findings, without a hearing.The court of appeal set aside the juvenile court’s order setting a hearing under section 366.26 to consider termination of parental rights, guardianship, or another permanent plan. Father sufficiently raised the possibility that the Agency failed to use due diligence to locate him and sufficiently stated a notice violation to warrant an evidentiary hearing. View "In re R.A." 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

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When Indiana officials determine that a child is suffering abuse or neglect, they initiate the Child in Need of Services (CHIN) process. Lawyers are automatically appointed for parents but not for children in the CHINS process. The plaintiffs, children in the CHINS process, claimed that they are entitled to counsel. The Seventh Circuit affirmed the dismissal of the suit, citing “Younger” abstention. While declining to decide that Younger would mandate abstention in all CHINS cases, the court reasoned that principles of comity entitle states to make their own decisions. Because children are not automatically entitled to lawyers, as opposed to the sort of adult assistance that Indiana routinely provides, it would be inappropriate for a federal court to resolve the appointment-of-counsel question in any of the 10 plaintiffs’ state proceedings. A state judge may decide to appoint counsel or may explain why counsel is unnecessary. View "Nicole K. v. Stigdon" on Justia Law

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Defendant Justin Link committed aggravated murder as a juvenile in 2001. He was sentenced to a term of life imprisonment, which, as defined by statute at the relevant time, required him to serve “a minimum of 30 years without possibility of parole.” After serving that minimum term of confinement, defendant could petition to convert his sentence to life imprisonment with the possibility of parole. In this case, defendant argued the statute under which he was sentenced violated the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution. The Court of Appeals agreed. The Oregon Supreme Court allowed the state’s petition for review, and reversed, finding defendant did not establish that the statutory scheme applicable here denied him a meaningful opportunity for release. "Therefore, the sentence that defendant received is not the functional equivalent of life without parole. It follows that defendant has failed to establish that Miller’s individualized-sentencing requirement applies to a sentence of 'life imprisonment' under ORS 163.105(1)(c) (2001)." The circuit court's order was affirmed. View "Oregon v. Link" on Justia Law