Articles Posted in Juvenile Law

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The Supreme Court held that the county court erred when it concluded that the appointed guardian (Guardian) of her juvenile nephew (Juvenile) had not satisfied 8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(27)(J) and therefore denied Guardian’s motion to make special factual findings that are necessary to apply for SIJ status under the statute. In denying Guardian’s request to make special findings to be used in immigration proceedings, the county court stated that Juvenile was “not dependent on this court” and that Guardian had not satisfied the dependency or custody component of section 1101(a)(27)(J). During the pendency of this appeal, the Nebraska Legislature amended Neb. Rev. Stat. 43-1238(b) to clarify that courts with jurisdiction over initial child custody determinations under section 43-1238(a) also have jurisdiction and authority to make special findings of fact similar to the findings of fact contemplated by section 1101(a)(27)(J). The Supreme Court reversed and remanded the case, holding that because the county court made a custody determination under section 43-1238(a), it erred when it concluded that it had not made a custody determination for purposes of section 1101(a)(27)(J)(i). View "In re Guardianship of Carlos D." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the sentences imposed in connection with Defendant’s conviction for second degree murder and first degree assault, holding that there was no merit to the arguments Defendant raised on appeal regarding his sentences. Defendant was seventeen years old at the time of the offenses. He was sentenced to sixty years’ to life imprisonment for second degree murder and to forty to fifty years’ imprisonment for first degree assault, with the sentences to run consecutively. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) because Defendant will be eligible for parole at age sixty-seven, Defendant did not receive a de facto life sentence; and (2) the district court did not impose excessive sentences. View "State v. Steele" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court overruled the State’s exception in this exception proceeding challenging the juvenile court’s rulings on a motion to recuse and a motion to join the underlying case with that of another minor. In a delinquency proceeding, the county court, sitting as a juvenile court, found that the State failed to prove the allegations against J.K., the juvenile in this case, and dismissed the proceedings. The State appealed, arguing that the juvenile court erred when the presiding judge failed to recuse himself after evidence was presented showing bias and partiality an erred when it failed to join the cases of J.K.’s and J.G., another minor. The Supreme Court overruled the State’s exception, holding (1) the juvenile court’s denial of the motion for recusal was not error; and (2) the juvenile court did not abuse its discretion in denying the State’s motion for joinder. View "In re Interest of J.K." on Justia Law

Posted in: Juvenile Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the separate juvenile court of Lancaster County that the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) arrange and pay for Paxton H., a juvenile in its care and custody, to receive mental health services at a facility in Kansas, holding that the juvenile court’s order was in Paxton’s best interests. On appeal, DHHS acknowledged that Paxton required certain services but that it was not in his best interests to participate in a transition program several hours from his parents’ home. Instead, DHHS asserted that it would be better for Paxton to receive local services in Nebraska. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding that the juvenile court did not err in ordering DHHS to arrange and pay for Paxton to receive services at the Kansas facility. View "In re Paxton H." on Justia Law

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Because third degree sexual assault is not a lesser-included offense of first degree sexual assault, the juvenile court erred in adjudicating Jordan B. based on its finding that he committed third degree sexual assault when the only law violation alleged in the petition was first degree sexual assault. The county attorney filed a petition asking the juvenile court to adjudicate Jordan as a juvenile who committed an act that would constitute a felony pursuant to Neb. Rev. Stat. 43-247(2). The felony alleged was first degree sexual assault, as described in Neb. Rev. Stat. 28-319. The juvenile court found that the State failed to prove Jordan committed acts constituting first degree sexual assault as charged. Nevertheless, the court raised sua sponte the “lesser included offense” of third degree sexual assault and adjudicated Jordan as a child within the meaning of section 43-247(1). The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the juvenile court adjudicated Jordan on grounds for which he had no notice, in violation of the Due Process Clauses of the Nebraska and United States Constitutions. View "In re Interest of Jordan B." on Justia Law

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Because third degree sexual assault is not a lesser-included offense of first degree sexual assault, the juvenile court erred in adjudicating Jordan B. based on its finding that he committed third degree sexual assault when the only law violation alleged in the petition was first degree sexual assault. The county attorney filed a petition asking the juvenile court to adjudicate Jordan as a juvenile who committed an act that would constitute a felony pursuant to Neb. Rev. Stat. 43-247(2). The felony alleged was first degree sexual assault, as described in Neb. Rev. Stat. 28-319. The juvenile court found that the State failed to prove Jordan committed acts constituting first degree sexual assault as charged. Nevertheless, the court raised sua sponte the “lesser included offense” of third degree sexual assault and adjudicated Jordan as a child within the meaning of section 43-247(1). The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the juvenile court adjudicated Jordan on grounds for which he had no notice, in violation of the Due Process Clauses of the Nebraska and United States Constitutions. View "In re Interest of Jordan B." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s grant of Defendant’s motion to transfer his case to juvenile court. Defendant was seventeen years old when he was charged with multiple felonies. The district court sustained Defendant’s motion to transfer the case to juvenile court. The State appealed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion in transferring the matter to juvenile court because (1) the State failed to meet its burden to show that a sound basis existed for retaining the matter in district court; (2) district the court sufficiently made the required findings pursuant to Neb. Rev. Stat. 435-276; and (3) any error in the court’s deciding of the motion to transfer without first reading and considering police reports related to the investigation of the crimes charged was harmless. View "State v. Tyler P." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court vacated the order of the separate juvenile court of Douglas County extending a juvenile’s term of probation and imposing additional community service, holding that the court did not follow applicable statutory procedures and thereby exceeded its statutory authority. The State moved to revoke probation after the juvenile, who was on probation pursuant to a previous adjudication, allegedly committed a new offense. When the juvenile entered a denial to the new charge, however, the State withdrew its motion. The juvenile court nonetheless extended the term of probation and imposed additional community service. The Supreme Court vacated the order and remanded the cause for further proceedings, holding that the juvenile court exceeded its statutory authority in changing the terms of the juvenile’s probation. View "In re Interest of Josue G." on Justia Law

Posted in: Juvenile Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the ruling of the court of appeals that the State failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that K.M. committed first degree sexual assault under Neb. Rev. Stat. 28-319. The separate juvenile court adjudicated K.M. as being a juvenile who committed an act that would constitute a felony by committing first degree sexual assault based on the victim’s lack of capacity. The court of appeals concluded that the juvenile court erred in finding that K.M. subjected the victim to sexual penetration because the State failed to prove that K.M. knew or should have known that the victim was mentally or physically incapable of resisting or appraising the nature of his conduct. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the State failed to prove that the victim actually lacked the capacity to consent. View "In re Interest of K.M." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s denial of Keshaud Hunt’s motion to transfer his case charging him with multiple felonies arising from two armed robberies to juvenile court. Hunt was fifteen years old when he committed the offenses underlying the charges. The Court also affirmed the district court’s denial of Hunt’s request for disposition under the Nebraska Juvenile Code and imposition of consecutive prison sentences. The Court held (1) the district court’s basis for retaining jurisdiction over Hunt was supported by appropriate evidence, and therefore, the court did not abuse its discretion in refusing to transfer the case to juvenile court; and (2) there was no abuse of discretion in the sentences imposed. View "State v. Hunt" on Justia Law