Justices to consider absentee juvenile adjudication that split COA

May 1, 2018

The Indiana Supreme Court will hear an appeal of a juvenile case in which a missing delinquent teen received another delinquency adjudication and was found to be in violation of probation after a court hearing where he was not present.

The Lawrence County case of R.R. v. State of Indiana, 47A04-1705-JV-944, divided a panel of the Indiana Court of Appeals, which upheld the juvenile court’s orders that awarded wardship of R.R. to the Department of Correction after an adjudication on allegations of auto theft and false informing. He previously had been adjudicated delinquent for what would be criminal mischief if committed by an adult.

Judge Terry Crone wrote for the majority joined by Judge Paul Mathias that affirmed that juvenile court. Crone noted R.R. was present when the fact-finding hearings were scheduled, yet was not complying with his probationary requirements. Crone also pointed to his mother’s testimony that R.R. “took off” when she tried to take him to an appointment one week before the hearings, and did not return to his mother’s home during the ensuing week. The majority found R.R.’s absences were knowing and voluntary, constituting failure to appear.

But dissenting Chief Judge Nancy Vaidik wrote that she would reverse the trial court and remand the case, citing factors set out in Indiana Code section 31-32-5-1 that must be met for a juvenile to waive constitutional rights. She said those factors were not met in this case.

“At the end of the day, this is the call of our legislature, and if this is not what they intended (as my colleagues believe), then ‘(a)ny change must … fall to the legislature’s corrective pen,’” Vaidik wrote, quoting Calvin v. State, No. 02S03-1709-CR-611 (Ind. Dec. 21, 2017).

The case is one of two the Indiana Supreme Court granted transfer last week, while justices denied two dozen petitions to transfer. Supreme Court transfer decisions may be read here.




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