Juvenile Law Center filed an amicus curiae brief on behalf of D.M., a youth who had been adjudicated delinquent by a juvenile court judge in Missouri. Under Missouri’s one judge/one family practice, the juvenile court judge in the delinquency case was also the judge in D.M.’s child welfare case. In finding D.M. delinquent, the judge relied on his extensive knowledge of D.M.’s child welfare case, including her history of behavior problems and disciplinary infractions in school.
Juvenile Law Center argued that the juvenile court violated D.M.’s right to due process in her delinquency case by using its knowledge of D.M.’s history in the child welfare system, including knowledge of prior misconduct, as evidence to adjudicate her delinquent for the charge of assault on school property. Moreover, the court impermissibly considered evidence from D.M.’s child welfare case that was never introduced by either party and never provided to D.M.’s attorney, thereby denying D.M. the right to refute, impeach or explain the evidence.
Juvenile Law Center emphasized that juvenile courts must diligently protect children’s due process rights when children are involved in both the child welfare and juvenile justice systems, particularly in cases in which the same judge presides over both cases.