Justia Civil Procedure Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Juvenile Law
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This case involves a person identified as Tony R., who was committed to the Reaching Into Successful Endeavors (RISE) program for a term of 11 years or until he reached the age of 25, with a baseline term of four years. This was following his involvement in serious offenses, including attempted murder and second-degree robbery. Tony appealed from the juvenile court's denial of his request to reduce his baseline term of confinement at his first six-month review hearing. He argued that the court lacked the authority to deny his request or, in the alternate, that it had abused its discretion.At the six-month review, the court evaluated Tony's progress in relation to his rehabilitation plan, which included a series of programs and treatments aimed at addressing his needs. Tony had been participating in these programs successfully and was performing well academically. Despite this, the court denied his request for a reduction in his baseline term.The Court of Appeal of the State of California, First Appellate District, affirmed the juvenile court's decision. The appellate court found that the juvenile court did not abuse its discretion in denying Tony's request for a reduction in his baseline term. The appellate court noted that the law gives juvenile courts discretion to reduce the baseline term but does not require it to do so, and that the juvenile court's decision was within the bounds of reason under the applicable law and the relevant facts. View "In re Tony R." on Justia Law

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In this case, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit dismissed as moot the appeal by the Louisiana Governor and other state officials challenging a district court’s preliminary injunction. Originally, the district court had ordered the state officials to remove juvenile offenders from the Bridge City Center for Youth at West Feliciana (BCCY-WF) and barred them from housing juveniles at the facility in the future. The state officials appealed this decision. However, the preliminary injunction automatically expired under the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) before the appeal could be resolved, rendering the appeal moot. The Court of Appeals also vacated the district court's underlying order because it was moot. The Court noted that the appeal did not meet the exception for mootness for issues that are capable of repetition but evade review, as the state officials could not show that similar future injunctions would evade review or that they would again be subject to the same action. View "Smith v. Edwards" on Justia Law

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In the case under review, the defendant, Paradise Burkhead, was charged with crimes committed when she was a juvenile. Under the juvenile transfer statute in effect at the time of her hearing, her case was transferred from the Jefferson District Court to the Jefferson Circuit Court for adult prosecution because she was over fourteen years old and had committed a felony with a firearm. After a new juvenile transfer statute came into effect, which eliminated the mandatory transfer requirement, Burkhead sought to have her case transferred back to the district court for a second transfer hearing. The circuit court granted her motion, despite the Commonwealth's objection. The Commonwealth appealed this decision, and the Court of Appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court of Kentucky reversed the lower courts' decisions.The Supreme Court of Kentucky held that the Commonwealth's interlocutory appeal was proper and that the circuit court erred by ordering a second transfer hearing. The court found that the interlocutory appeal was justified under KRS 22A.020(4) because it was adverse to the Commonwealth's interests, the proceedings were not suspended, the appeal followed normal rules and procedures, and the Attorney General affirmed that appellate review was important to the correct and uniform administration of the law.As for the retroactive application of the new juvenile transfer statute, the court held that "proceedings" in KRS 446.110 refers to the distinct phases of a case. Therefore, the court must apply the current procedural law governing the particular procedural phase being undertaken. The court held the transfer hearing was a completed phase of the criminal process, and nothing in KRS 446.110 suggested that a court must repeat a completed phase to comply with a procedural amendment. Therefore, the circuit court erred in remanding the case for a second transfer hearing. The case was remanded to the Jefferson Circuit Court for further proceedings. View "COMMONWEALTH V. BURKHEAD" on Justia Law

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In the case before the Supreme Court of the State of Oregon, the parents of three children under the jurisdiction of the Department of Human Services (DHS) appealed the juvenile court's decision to change the placement preference for their children from the mother's home to foster care. However, while the appeal was pending in the Court of Appeals, the juvenile court issued additional decisions determining that substitute care was still the appropriate placement preference for the children. The Court of Appeals dismissed the appeal as moot due to these subsequent judgments, ruling that it could not conclude without speculation that the challenged judgments would have a practical effect on the parents' rights. The Supreme Court of the State of Oregon reversed the decision of the Court of Appeals, finding that the Court of Appeals had incorrectly placed the burden on the parents to prove that the appeal was not moot, rather than on DHS to prove that it was. However, the Supreme Court found that the juvenile court's subsequent dismissal of the dependency cases altogether did render the appeals moot, as the parents and the children were no longer wards of the court and the original substitute-care placement determination no longer had a practical effect on the parties. The Supreme Court therefore dismissed the appeals as moot. View "Dept. of Human Services v. T. J. N." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court dismissed sixteen-year-old Sayrah P.'s appeal from an order for electronic monitoring and an order for staff secure detention, holding that this appeal lacked a final, appealable order.A juvenile probation officer found that Sayrah qualified for an alternative to detention and sent her home with an order for electronic monitoring. Two days after the initial screening the juvenile court held a hearing and ordered that Sayrah's electronic monitoring continue. Because Sayrah was noncompliant with her electronic monitoring she was ordered a month later to "staff secure" detention. Sayrah appealed. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal for lack of a final, appealable order, holding that the orders appealed from did not affect a substantial right, and therefore, the orders were not appealable. View "In re Interest of Sayrah P." on Justia Law

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Defendant-Mother appealed the juvenile court’s order denying her post-permanency Welfare and Institutions Code section 388 petition that asked the court to grant her reunification services with her thirteen-year-old son N.F. The juvenile court terminated its dependency jurisdiction over N.F. in January 2021 after appointing paternal uncle as his legal guardian. Mother does not contest the merits of the court’s denial of her section 388 petition. Rather, she argued the juvenile court’s legal guardianship order must be reversed because the court and the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services (Department) did not comply with their initial inquiry duties under the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 (ICWA) and related California law.The Second Appellate District affirmed. The court explained that Mother had the right to appeal from the court’s legal guardianship order, including the court’s implicit finding it continued to have no reason to know N.F. was an Indian child and the Department had satisfied its duty of ICWA inquiry. However, the time to so do expired many months ago. The court explained that Mother cannot now use her appeal from her post-permanency section 388 petition to challenge the legal guardianship order and findings made at the section 366.26 hearing—including the finding that ICWA did not apply. Further, the court explained that as the juvenile court did not vacate its order terminating its dependency jurisdiction over N.F. when it heard Mother’s section 388 petition—and a section 300 petition was not being filed on N.F.’s behalf—the court’s and the Department’s continuing duty of inquiry under section 224.2 was not implicated. View "In re N.F." on Justia Law

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Mother has seven children by several different fathers: the child at issue in this case—Jayden M. (born 2021). On November 19, 2021, the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services (the Department) filed a petition asking the juvenile court to exert jurisdiction over Jayden on two grounds. On May 2, 2022, the juvenile court held the dispositional hearing. The court removed Jayden from Mother’s custody and also bypassed reunification services under subdivisions (b)(10) and (b)(11) of section 361.5. More specifically, the court found by clear and convincing evidence that bypass was proper under these provisions because (1) Mother’s reunification services or parental rights for Jayden’s older half-siblings had been terminated, and (2) Mother’s most recent four months of effort to address her drug addiction—did not eliminate the court’s “concerns” in light of her 20-year history of drug abuse problems and prior dependency cases. On appeal, Mother’s chief argument on appeal is that the juvenile court’s order bypassing reunification services was not supported by the record.   The Second Appellate District affirmed the juvenile court’s order. The court held that the juvenile court’s finding is further supported by evidence that Mother has repeatedly relapsed after treatment and/or periods of sobriety in the past. This finding is consistent with the conventional wisdom and practical reality that short and recent periods of sobriety are often not enough to counter a longstanding pattern of use and relapse. Thus, substantial evidence supports the juvenile court’s finding that the effort underlying Mother’s brief period of sobriety after decades of drug abuse is not “reasonable.” View "In re Jayden M." on Justia Law

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Niagara County’s Child Protective Services successfully petitioned in Niagara County Family Court to strip Plaintiff of her parental rights over her minor son. Plaintiff appealed the Family Court’s decision. While that appeal was pending, she brought suit in federal court against officials and entities involved in terminating her parental rights. The district court dismissed Plaintiff’s suit pursuant to the Rooker-Feldman doctrine.   The Second Circuit vacated the judgment insofar as the district court denied Plaintiff’s motions for leave to amend and for additional time to serve defendants. The court held that the RookerFeldman doctrine does not apply when an appeal remains pending in state court. Rooker-Feldman applies only after the state proceedings have ended. View "Hunter v. McMahon" on Justia Law

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Newborn A.H. was placed in a foster home. The Agency reported that it had denied a request for placement by J.B., a “nonrelative extended family member” (NREFM, Welf. & Inst. Code 362.7). J.B. filed a “Relative Information,” requesting that A.H. live with her. The Agency objected on the ground that J.B. was not a relative for purposes of the proceedings. The juvenile court agreed, stating that it independently considered placement with several relatives or with J.B. and denied placement with those individuals “for the reasons stated in the Social Worker’s Report.” J.B. filed a section 388 “Request to Change Court Order.” The juvenile court summarily denied J.B.’s petition, finding that the request did not state new evidence or a change of circumstances, and did not promote A.H.’s best interest. J.B. filed a notice of appeal. The Agency reported that in the dependency case of A.H.’s half-sibling, J.B. “created a division” between the Agency and the parents, falsely accusing the caregiver of neglect. The juvenile court terminated parental rights, selecting adoption as the permanent plan.The court of appeal dismissed J.B.’s appeal from the denial of her petition, the refusal to consider her relative information form, and the placement order. Although J.B. may have an “interest” in A.H. that is sufficient for filing a section 388 petition, she does not have a legally cognizable interest in A.H.’s placement such that she has standing to challenge the juvenile court’s placement decision. View "In re A.H." on Justia Law

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South Carolina law makes it a crime for elementary and secondary school students to act “disorderly” or in a “boisterous manner,”; use “obscene or profane language”; or “interfere with,” “loiter about,” or “act in an obnoxious manner” in (or sometimes near) a school. Four students who had been referred or charged under the disorderly conduct or disturbing schools laws, and a nonprofit organization that advocates for at-risk youth filed a putative class action challenging both laws as unconstitutionally vague. After denying a motion to dismiss, the district court certified one main class and two subclasses under the Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(b)(2). The court held that both laws were unconstitutionally vague as applied to elementary and secondary school students, and it permanently enjoined future enforcement of the disorderly conduct law against those students. South Carolina’s Attorney General—appealed, lodging multiple challenges to the district court’s rulings.   The Fourth Circuit affirmed. The court reasoned that the district court committed no abuse of discretion here—not just because the challenged laws are facially invalid as applied to elementary and secondary school students but also because the subclasses demonstrated ongoing injury by the retention of existing records. A delinquency adjudication under South Carolina law may impair a minor’s future practice of law, application for military service, use of a driver’s license, and educational opportunities. Having concluded the laws may not be constitutionally enforced against South Carolina’s elementary and secondary students, the court saw no reason for allowing such continuing injuries to stand. View "Carolina Youth Action Project v. Alan Wilson" on Justia Law