September 5, 2007

ADULT COURT BANNED FROM USING JUVENILE SEX CRIME PRIORS

COURTS CAN'T USE JUVI RECORDS IN A SEXUALLY VIOLENT PREDATOR PROCEEDING

When James H. was a juvenile, he had a juvenile court wardship finding that he violated California Penal Code section 288(a). His juvenile record was sealed under California Welfare & INstitutions Code section 781. James H. then got convicted of new sex crime in adult court.

When it was time for his release from custody on the new adult conviction, they claimed he was a sexually violent predator (SVP). The Board of Parole Hearings wanted to conduct
a review to determine whether he was an SVP, so they sent a letter to the juvenile court asking for the the juvenile court records.

The juvenile court sent them right along. The California Court Appeals holds that the juvenile court's sealing order bars release of these records for use in an SVP proceeding.

In re James H.; 2007 DJ DAR 13575; DJ, 9/5/07; C/A 1st

August 29, 2007

JUVENILE PRIOR CONVICTIONS MAY BE USED TO AGGRAVATE ADULT SENTENCES

JUVENILE PRIORS MAY BE USED TO AGGRAVATE ADULT SENTENCES

The adult court here imposed upper term on this defendant's sentence, relying on a juvenile prior as the aggravating factor.

The question posed to the California Court of Appeal here is: May a juvenile
prior be used as an aggravating factor after Cunningham (127 S.Ct.
856)?

The First District Court of Appeal says the issue is the reliability of the prior. Oh, and those juvenile priors are SO reliable. After all, those minors have the right to a trial and witnesses and proof beyond a reasonable doubt, right? No, they do not.

And we can surely trust those unbiased and reliable judges as the triers of fact, right? So the Court of Appeal says that juvenile priors may be used to aggravate adult sentences.

People v. Tu; 2007 DJ DAR 13131; DJ, 8/29/07; C/A 1st

July 5, 2007

APPELLATE COURT: JUVENILE CONVICTIONS CAN NEVER BE USED AS STRIKES!

The California 6th District Court of Appeal has ruled that NO juvenile priors can be used as strike priors! (People v. Nguyen; 2007 DJ DAR 9965; DJ, 7/3/07; C/A 6th)

The Court of Appeal states that US Supreme Court case law compels this result. The Court held that the role of the jury is diminished and eroded in violation of the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments by the use of juvenile adjudications to increase the maximum punishment for an offense, in light of the U.S. Supreme Court's opinions in Apprendi and Blakely.

Initially, this California Court of Appeal held that juvenile wardship findings could not be used as strike priors unless the minor admitted the juvenile petition. They granted rehearing and ultimately decided that ALL juveniles priors must be banned for future use.

Here is what they said: "Today we hold that a juvenile adjudication is not a prior conviction within the meaning of Apprendi because the juvenile offender does not have the right to a jury trial. Therefore, a juvenile adjudication cannot be used, pursuant to the Three Strikes law, to impose on an adult a sentence in excess of the maximum sentence that could have been imposed on the basis of a trial or a defendant's admission."

Seth Flagsberg, Santa Clara Public Defender, filed and won the appeal. Now the problem is whether this will stand up if the California Supreme Court grants review?

Practice Pointer: If you're handling an adult case with juvenile strike priors, run in quickly and try to get rid of them with this opinion... before it gets vacated. Don't just assume that your clients now have a free ride, assume the worst: that we will ultimately lose this.