ILNews

Juvenile's DOC placement affirmed

Jennifer Nelson
January 1, 2008
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Addressing the issue for the first time, the Indiana Court of Appeals supported a juvenile court's decision to place an illegal immigrant juvenile delinquent with the Department of Corrections instead of deporting him back to his home country.

In J.S. v. State of Indiana, No. 15A01-0706-JV-276, J.S., a 15-year-old illegal immigrant from Mexico, appealed his placement in the DOC. The boy, who had already once illegally entered the U.S. and was arrested in Kentucky for driving without a license and deported, was arrested in Lawrenceburg, Ind., for selling heroin within 1,000 feet of a school to a confidential informant working for the Dearborn County Sheriff's department. Instead of being placed with the DOC, J.S. wanted to be sent back to Mexico.

The Indiana Court of Appeals agreed with the juvenile court's decision, finding if J.S. was deported back to Mexico, it was highly likely he would come back to the U.S. During his disposition hearing, his father testified by telephone from Mexico that he and his wife did not know where J.S. was until he was arrested.

Indiana Code Section 31-37-18-6 sets the factors a juvenile court must consider when entering a dispositional decree, including selecting the least restrictive placement in most situations as to not disrupt family life and autonomy. However, if the juvenile's actions and freedom interferes with the safety of the community and the best interest of the child, the juvenile court can decide on a more restrictive placement.

J.S. had already once snuck into the U.S. and been arrested, and returned illegally just one month later. If he had sold the heroin as an adult, he could have faced 20 to 50 years in prison. His placement with the DOC is in the best interest of J.S. and the community, which will allow him to pursue his education and attempt to change his life for the better, Chief Judge John Baker wrote.
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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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