Articles Posted in Juvenile Law

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A jury found defendant Alden Morgan, committed armed robbery at age 17. Following return of the guilty verdict, the district court sentenced him to 99 years imprisonment at hard labor without benefit of parole, probation, or suspension of sentence. After being denied relief on direct review, defendant filed a motion to correct an illegal sentence in light of recent developments in Eighth Amendment jurisprudence pertaining to the sentencing of juveniles. The Louisiana Supreme Court granted the defendant’s writ application to determine whether the defendant’s 99-year sentence was an effective life sentence and was, therefore, illegal under the Supreme Court’s decision in "Graham v. Florida," (560 U.S. 48 (2010)). The Louisiana Court held that a 99-year sentence without parole was illegal because it did not provide the defendant “with a meaningful opportunity to obtain release based on demonstrated maturity and rehabilitation.” Accordingly, the Court amended defendant’s sentence to delete the restriction on parole eligibility. View "State ex rel Moran v. Louisiana" on Justia Law

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Defendant Terrence Roberson was charged with armed robbery and attempted second-degree murder for offenses which allegedly occurred in 2012, when the defendant was sixteen years old. The issue this case presented for the Supreme Court's review centered on whether the Juvenile Court’s dismissal of defendant's case for expiration of the time period for adjudication provided in the Children’s Code prevented the District Attorney from later obtaining a grand jury indictment against defendant and bringing the case to District Court. In this case, the District Court quashed the defendant’s indictment on the basis of the Juvenile Court’s prior dismissal of the juvenile petition with prejudice. The Court of Appeal reversed the District Court’s grant of the motion to quash. Finding no reversible error in that decision, the Supreme Court affirmed. View "Louisiana v. Roberson" on Justia Law

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Juvenile defendant J.M. was charged with simple battery and simple criminal damage to property. On February 25, 2013, J.M. appeared to answer the petition and entered a denial of the allegations. Pursuant to La. Ch. Code art. 877, the state had ninety days from the date of the answer hearing to adjudicate the case (here, until May 26, 2013). The juvenile court set a trial date of March 26, 2013. Defendant failed to appear for trial and an arrest warrant was issued for her arrest. Service was never rendered on the defendant. On April 17, 2013, the warrant was recalled when defendant appeared in court and a new trial date of May 14, 2013 was set. On May 13, 2013, for reasons unclear from the record, the State expressly requested an extension of the adjudication deadline from May 26, 2013 to May 28, 2013 without objection. The juvenile court granted the extension and set a hearing date of May 28, 2013. On that date, the state requested a second continuance of the adjudication hearing. The juvenile court denied the state’s motion to continue, noting the State had already been granted additional time and finding no good cause to grant an additional continuance. Critically, the State did not object to or seek review of this ruling, but instead entered a nolle prosequi and dismissed the case. The same day, the State filed a new petition alleging the same delinquent acts. An answer hearing for the refiled petition was set for June 11, 2013. On June 11, 2013, the record reflected service was not made on the defendant and a new hearing date was set for June 25, 2013. On that date, the juvenile court judge was absent and the matter was delayed until July 16, 2013. On that date, 141 days from the original answer hearing, J.M. appeared in court to answer the refiled petition. J.M. once again denied the allegations and moved to dismiss the petition, arguing the state violated the time limitations found in Louisiana Children’s Code Article 877. The juvenile court denied the defendant’s motion to dismiss. J.M. noticed intent to seek review of that ruling and appealed. The court of appeal granted defendant’s writ application and reversed the ruling of the juvenile court, dismissing the case on the basis that the state failed to adjudicate the matter within the time limitations provided in the Children’s Code. The State appealed the court of appeal’s decision, which the Supreme Court granted. After review, the Supreme Court affirmed the court of appeal ruling. View "Louisiana in the interest of J.M." on Justia Law

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L.D. was charged with the commission of a felony-grade delinquent act of unauthorized use of a movable. Although La.Ch.C. art. 854(A) required in this instance that L.D. appear to answer the delinquency petition within five days of filing because he was continued in custody, the district court set the answer hearing for the next available court date dedicated to juvenile matters, 27 days later. L.D. appeared at that time, objected to the untimeliness of the hearing, and asked for his release from custody and for dismissal of the delinquency petition. The juvenile judge found, consistent with a policy of that court, that the court’s scheduling constraints constituted "good cause" for the delay under La.Ch.C. art. 854(C). The court therefore declined to dismiss the petition and release L.D. from custody, and the juvenile did not seek immediate review of that ruling. The court adjudicated L.D. delinquent 21 days later, within the 30 days from the answer hearing afforded by La.Ch.C. art. 877(A). On appeal, L.D. contended that his adjudication hearing was nevertheless untimely and that the petition should therefore have been dismissed because each step in delinquency adjudication process "should be seen as carefully and closely placed, like dominoes in a row, and that by wrongly delaying the answer hearing, the juvenile court judge triggered a cascade, a rippling effect, that ended in an adjudication that should be viewed as untimely as well." The court of appeal found that the juvenile judge erred in denying L.D.’s motion for release based on failure to timely hold the answer hearing. The Supreme Court affirmed: "[w]e [. . .] agree with the court of appeal majority that the legislature did not subscribe to the rippling effect advocated by L.D., such that the slightest perturbation in the steady march of various time limits through the process results inexorably in the dismissal of a delinquency petition. The court of appeal noted, and all parties agree, that La.Ch.C. art. 854 specifies no remedy when the time afforded for an answer hearing is exceeded without good cause. The provisions of the Children’s Code governing delinquency proceedings otherwise contain several explicit time limits. [. . .] Only when the time afforded by La.Ch.C. art. 877 to commence the delinquency adjudication following the answer hearing is exceeded must the court dismiss the petition at the request of the juvenile." View "Louisiana in the Interest of L.D." on Justia Law

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The issue this case presented to the Supreme Court centered on whether the district court properly ordered the defendants to register as sex offenders pursuant to La. Rev. Stat. 15:542(A). The more precisely: whether the defendants, who, as adults, entered pleas of guilty to the charge of indecent behavior with a juvenile for conduct that occurred when the defendants were themselves under the age of 14 years old, had to register as sex offenders under the statute even though they would not have been required to register as such had they entered guilty pleas as juveniles in juvenile court at the time they committed the offenses. The Supreme Court found under the plain language of the statute that the defendants qualified as “[a]ny adult residing in this state who has pled guilty to … a sex offense as defined in R.S. 15:541…” and, therefore, must register as sex offenders pursuant to La. Rev. Stat. 15:542(A)(1). View "Louisiana v. I.C.S." on Justia Law

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Juvenile J.M. argued the criminal statutes regarding the intentional concealment of a weapon(La. R.S. 14:95(A)), and the possession of a handgun by a juvenile (La. R.S. 14:95.8), failed to meet the requirement of strict scrutiny under the state constitutional provision securing the right to keep and bear arms. The juvenile court declared La. R.S. 14:95(A) unconstitutional as applied to juveniles, and found a portion of La. R.S. 14:95.8 should have been severed from the statute. Upon review of the matter, the Supreme Court found the juvenile court erred in both of its rulings. The Supreme Court held both statutes constitutional and remanded the case for further proceedings. View "In the interest of J.M. " on Justia Law

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The issue before the Supreme Court in this case centered on whether "Miller v. Alabama," (567 U.S. __ (2012)) applied retroactively in state collateral proceedings. Defendant Darryl Tate, whose mandatory life-without-parole sentence for a second-degree murder he committed as a juvenile became final in 1984, filed a motion seeking resentencing in light of Miller. The District Court denied his motion, but the Court of Appeal granted writs, remanding the matter for a sentencing hearing. The Louisiana Supreme Court granted writs to address the retroactivity of Miller to those juvenile homicide convictions final at the time Miller was rendered. Upon review, the Louisiana Court found Miller did not apply retroactively in cases on collateral review as it merely set forth a new rule of criminal constitutional procedure, which is neither substantive nor implicative of the fundamental fairness and accuracy of criminal proceedings. Therefore, the Court reversed the judgment of the Court of Appeal and reinstated the judgment of the District Court. View "Louisiana v. Tate" on Justia Law

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The state filed a delinquency petition in the Juvenile Court for the Parish of Orleans charging Defendant with distribution of heroin in violation of La.R.S. 40:966(A)(1). After a hearing, the court adjudicated Defendant delinquent and ordered him committed to the custody of the Department of Public Safety and Corrections for a period not to exceed one year. On appeal, the Fourth Circuit set aside the juvenile court's adjudication and disposition order on grounds that "any rational trier of fact, after viewing all of the evidence favorably to the prosecution, must have a reasonable doubt as to the Defendant's guilt." The Supreme Court granted the state's application for review and reversed the decision because the court of appeal erred in substituting its appreciation of the evidence presented at the delinquency hearing for that of the fact finder. View "In the interest of C.D." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court granted a writ application to determine whether a school board had tort liability for expelling a high school student after a fifth-sized bottle of whiskey fell from the student's backpack and broke on the classroom floor. The student claimed he was denied due process in the disciplinary proceedings that resulted in his expulsion. The district court agreed and awarded the student $50,000. Upon review of the trial court record, the Supreme Court found that the student presented no evidence whatsoever of being denied due process at the school board hearing. Finding the student failed to carry his burden of proof to show a denial of due process by the school board, the Court reversed the judgment of the district court. View "Christy v. McCalla" on Justia Law