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Court: Rehabilitation evaluation a must

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The Indiana Supreme Court says that before any juvenile can be placed on the state's sex offender registry, a trial court must first evaluate whether that minor has been rehabilitated to determine if there's clear and convincing evidence he or she might re-offend.

A Marion Superior magistrate didn't do that and on Tuesday, justices reversed the lower court's decision requiring a then-14-year-old boy to register as a sex offender. The eight-page ruling came on a petition to transfer in J.C.C. v. State, No. 49S02-0803-JV-143.

During a year's incarceration at the Indiana Boys' School in 2000 for a series of nine child molesting offenses with younger boys, the juvenile referred to as J.C.C. completed a sex offender treatment program and was released. The state petitioned that the juvenile register as a sex offender and the trial court ordered that registry.

On appeal to the Supreme Court, J.C.C. argued that the state didn't show clear and convincing evidence that he is likely to re-offend, and that the trial court should not have denied his Trial Rule 60(B) claim to set aside the adjudications. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that a certified juvenile sex offender counselor adequately conducted an assessment that showed J.C.C. was a high risk for re-offending despite his completion of the treatment program.

But the justices disagreed, pointing out that the counselor's only evaluation of J.C.C. was prior to the juvenile's placement in the Department of Correction and treatment program.

"Though such an interview is not required, the expert's testimony or other evidence must analyze whether the juvenile has been rehabilitated subsequent to disposition," Justice Frank Sullivan wrote for the court. "That did not occur in this case. Without such evidence, we cannot conclude that there was clear and convincing evidence that J.C.C. is likely to commit another sex offense."

The court's analysis is grounded in specific provisions of Indiana's juvenile sex offender registry statute and the general purpose of the juvenile code, Justice Sullivan wrote. An evidentiary hearing is required to determine if a minor is likely to be a repeat sex offender, but when a juvenile is placed within detention or prison, that registry hearing can't be held until after the juvenile is released. As a result, the court determined that the legislative intent is to wait on a sex offender registration determination until that juvenile has the chance to be rehabilitated during detention.

"In addition to the specific provisions of the statute we have been exploring, we also find it highly relevant.... That the Legislature has articulated that guiding policy of this State and the purpose behind Indiana's juvenile justice system is to 'ensure that children within the juvenile justice system are treated as persons in need of care, protection, treatment, and rehabilitation,'" Justice Sullivan wrote. "This policy is consistent with the State's primary interest in rehabilitation, rather than punishment of juvenile delinquents."

Justices vacated the appellate court's order except for the portion addressing the Trial Rule 60(B) claim to set aside adjudications.

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  1. Welcome to Hendricks County where local and state statutes (especially Indiana Class C misdemeanors) are given a higher consideration than Federal statues and active duty military call-ups.

  2. If real money was spent on this study, what a shame. And if some air-head professor tries to use this to advance a career, pity the poor student. I am approaching a time that i (and others around me) should be vigilant. I don't think I'm anywhere near there yet, but seeing the subject I was looking forward to something I might use to look for some benchmarks. When finally finding my way to the hidden questionnaire all I could say to myself was...what a joke. Those are open and obvious signs of any impaired lawyer (or non-lawyer, for that matter), And if one needs a checklist to discern those tell-tale signs of impairment at any age, one shouldn't be practicing law. Another reason I don't regret dropping my ABA membership some number of years ago.

  3. The case should have been spiked. Give the kid a break. He can serve and maybe die for Uncle Sam and can't have a drink? Wow. And they won't even let him defend himself. What a gross lack of prosecutorial oversight and judgment. WOW

  4. I work with some older lawyers in the 70s, 80s, and they are sharp as tacks compared to the foggy minded, undisciplined, inexperienced, listless & aimless "youths" being churned out by the diploma mill law schools by the tens of thousands. A client is generally lucky to land a lawyer who has decided to stay in practice a long time. Young people shouldn't kid themselves. Experience is golden especially in something like law. When you start out as a new lawyer you are about as powerful as a babe in the cradle. Whereas the silver halo of age usually crowns someone who can strike like thunder.

  5. YES I WENT THROUGH THIS BEFORE IN A DIFFERENT SITUATION WITH MY YOUNGEST SON PEOPLE NEED TO LEAVE US ALONE WITH DCS IF WE ARE NOT HURTING OR NEGLECT OUR CHILDREN WHY ARE THEY EVEN CALLED OUT AND THE PEOPLE MAKING FALSE REPORTS NEED TO GO TO JAIL AND HAVE A CLASS D FELONY ON THERE RECORD TO SEE HOW IT FEELS. I WENT THREW ALOT WHEN HE WAS TAKEN WHAT ELSE DOES THESE SCHOOL WANT ME TO SERVE 25 YEARS TO LIFE ON LIES THERE TELLING OR EVEN LE SAME THING LIED TO THE COUNTY PROSECUTOR JUST SO I WOULD GET ARRESTED AND GET TIME HE THOUGHT AND IT TURNED OUT I DID WHAT I HAD TO DO NOT PROUD OF WHAT HAPPEN AND SHOULD KNOW ABOUT SEEKING MEDICAL ATTENTION FOR MY CHILD I AM DISABLED AND SICK OF GETTING TREATED BADLY HOW WOULD THEY LIKE IT IF I CALLED APS ON THEM FOR A CHANGE THEN THEY CAN COME AND ARREST THEM RIGHT OUT OF THE SCHOOL. NOW WE ARE HOMELESS AND THE CHILDREN ARE STAYING WITH A RELATIVE AND GUARDIAN AND THE SCHOOL WON'T LET THEM GO TO SCHOOL THERE BUT WANT THEM TO GO TO SCHOOL WHERE BULLYING IS ALLOWED REAL SMART THINKING ON A SCHOOL STAFF.

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