Davis v. State

Howard Jimmy Davis was charged in the adult justice system for a crime that occurred when he was 16. A judge denied his motion to transfer jurisdiction to juvenile court, a decision based in part on a cursory analysis of Howard’s amenability to treatment that considered only his eligibility for available services and not an individualized assessment of his rehabilitative potential. The judge identified the nature of the offense as the primary factor influencing the decision, without giving proper weight to the factor of amenability to treatment.
Juvenile Law Center, joined by National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, National Center for Youth Law, and National Juvenile Defender Center, filed an amicus brief in the Maryland Court of Appeals in support of Howard, urging the court to clarify that a robust and individualized amenability to treatment analysis is required under Maryland law. We argued that such an analysis is essential given the grave consequences of prosecution in the adult system, which disproportionately impact youth of color, particularly Black boys.

In a win for youth, the Court of Appeals found that the trial court did not properly consider Howard’s amenability to treatment. The Court held that amenability to treatment is “the ultimate determinative factor” in a transfer decision, and emphasized that public safety is improved, not harmed, by the rehabilitative aims of the juvenile system. The case was remanded for a new transfer hearing in which all factors must be appropriately considered. 

Marsha Levick, Karen Lindell, Nadia Mozaffar, Aryn Williams-Vann

Tiffany Faith, Marissa Lariviere