ILNews

Dismissal of delinquency petition doesn’t endanger public

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A juvenile court didn’t err in dismissing a delinquency petition against a teen who was found to be incompetent to stand trial, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled today. The judges also found dismissing the petition did not unduly endanger the public.

J.S. has a history of psychological and developmental difficulties, for which he has taken medication and received services. The state alleged in 2009 that J.S. was a delinquent child for committing what would be Class B felony criminal deviate conduct, Class C felony child molesting, Class C felony confinement, and Class D felony intimidation if committed by an adult.

J.S. asked for a determination of his competence to stand trial and two doctors found he was incompetent and didn’t understand the gravity of the charges against him. One doctor found he understood he was in a serious situation, has a fairly good understanding of court proceeding, and was competent to stand trial.

The juvenile court found him to be incompetent and dismissed the petition.

In State of Indiana v. J.S., No. 49A02-1004-JV-567, the Court of Appeals upheld the court’s decision finding J.S. incompetent to stand trial. They noted the thorough, extensive expert reports that found J.S. didn’t understand the magnitude of the charges against him, and he couldn’t assist his defense.

The state argued for the petition to remain pending while J.S. received treatment and attempted to achieve competency. Chief Judge John Baker noted that the appellate court recently found in an adult criminal context, this same scenario is a violation of due process to allow criminal charges to indefinitely hang over a defendant’s head while he or she is incompetent to stand trial and will remain incompetent.

“Here, although the experts did not reach a conclusion as to whether J.S. will ever regain competency, we note that he is a juvenile and, as such, there is only a limited amount of time left until he is an adult and no longer subject to the jurisdiction of the juvenile courts,” he wrote. “Furthermore, the record reveals that J.S. has suffered from—and been treated for—multiple debilitating social and developmental disorders for much of his young life, and the juvenile court would not have abused its discretion to have concluded, based on this record, that J.S. is unlikely to regain competency before he reaches the age of eighteen, if ever.”

The state also claimed the goal of protecting the community isn’t served by dismissing the petition against J.S. free and clear of any counseling or other requirements. But the record shows J.S. has attended counseling sessions, taken medication for his issues, and that his family has attempted to help him through different programs.

“Given this record, it is clear that J.S. is receiving the care, protection, treatment, and rehabilitation that he needs. Furthermore, the adults in his life at home, at school, and at the counseling center have set up safeguards to protect the public,” wrote the chief judge.
 

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  2. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  3. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  4. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

  5. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

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