Litigation Toolkit: State Law Challenges
Rehabilitative Goal of the Juvenile Justice
Rivera v. Orange Co. Probation Dept., No. 14-60044, 2016 WL 4205946 (9th Cir. Aug. 10, 2016): The Ninth Circuit, presiding over an appeal from a bankruptcy proceeding in which a probation department sought to collect from a mother fees imposed for the cost of her son’s juvenile detention, held that the county’s attempts to collect debt compromised the goals of juvenile correction and the youth’s best interest and impaired the mother’s ability to provide future support.
Although not a challenge to fees, fines, or restitution this bankruptcy proceeding is persuasive authority that court-imposed financial obligations do not further the goals of the juvenile justice system when the debtor cannot pay.
In re N.G., 9 A.3d 478 (D.C. 2010): The District of Columbia Court of Appeals vacated the juvenile court's order imposing restitution on a youth who admitted to unauthorized use of a vehicle as part of a plea agreement. The youth's admission did not establish the statutorily-required causal connection between his delinquent act and the damage to the victim's property.
R.S. v. Commonwealth, 423 S.W.3d 178 (Ky. 2014): The Supreme Court of Kentucky held that when determining if a restitution order is in the best interest of the child, as required by statute, the juvenile court should consider “the age of the child, the earning ability of the child or ability to pay, the employment status of the child, the ability of the child’s parents or guardians to pay, the amount of damage to the victim, and any legal remedies available to the victim.” The court ultimately affirmed the restitution order because the juvenile court's failure to make findings on the record supporting restitution, although error in future cases, did not constitute a manifest injustice.
In re K.E.G., 298 P.3d 1151 (Mont. 2013), overruled on other grounds by In re B.W., 318 P.3d 682 (Mont. 2014): The Montana Supreme Court held that the juvenile court's failure to consider a youth's ability to pay before ordering restitution is plain error under Montana statute and the state constitution. The court held that the youth's young age, detention, future earning capacity, and assets are all key considerations to determining whether the restitution order meets statutory objectives of juvenile court proceedings.
In re Laurance S., 742 N.W.2d 484 (Neb. 2007): The Supreme Court of Nebraska held that restitution in a juvenile court proceeding must serve the rehabilitative purposes of the Nebraska Juvenile Code and that an order imposed without considering the youth's financial ability to pay does not serve that purpose.
In re McKoy, 530 S.E.2d 334 (N.C. Ct. App. 2000): The Court of Appeals of North Carolina reversed a juvenile court's restitution order, when the record did not reflect that paying restitution served the youths' needs or best interests. The appellate court foresaw an indefinite period of probation since the youths had no money to pay restitution
In re Steven J., 491 A.2d 125 (Pa. Super. Ct. 1985): The Pennsylvania Superior Court held that the juvenile court was not empowered under Pennsylvania law to condition a juvenile’s release from detention on his mother’s payment of judgment order against her in favor of victim.
State v. M. D. J., 289 S.E.2d 191 (W. Va. 1982): The Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia held that, while the juvenile court may order restitution as part of a “program of treatment or therapy” designed to aid in the rehabilitation of a youth placed on probation, such restitution must be reasonable in its terms and within the youth's ability to perform. The court reversed an order revoking probation: considering the unemployment rate for youth in defendant's class, the court held that the restitution condition of his probation was unreasonable and beyond his ability to perform.
Cost of Detention
Rivera v. Orange Co. Probation Dept., No. 14-60044, 2016 WL 4205946 (9th Cir. Aug. 10, 2016): The Ninth Circuit, presiding over an appeal from a bankruptcy proceeding in which a probation department sought to collect from a mother fees imposed for the cost of her son’s juvenile detention, held that debt arising from a child’s involuntary detention for law enforcement purposes is substantively different from payment to support a child’s basic needs. Although not a challenge to fees, fines, or restitution this bankruptcy proceeding may be persuasive authority that parents’ obligations to financially support their children are not implicated when a youth is incarcerated.
In re Jerald C., 678 P.2d 917 (Cal. 1984): The Supreme Court of California reversed an order that father to pay support, care, and maintenance for his son, who was in secure detention. The court recognized that the purpose of secure detention is to exercise control over a youth for the benefit of society. Imposing the cost of detention on parents, including the cost of ordinary support, selected one particular class of persons for a species of taxation without a rational basis, in violation of equal protection.
This decision was subsequently cabined in County of San Mateo v. Dell J., 762 P.2d 1202 (Cal. 1988).
County of San Mateo v. Dell J., 762 P.2d 1202 (Cal. 1988): The Supreme Court of California held that charging support costs to the parents of a ward of the juvenile court placed in a non-detention facility was not an equal protection violation. However, the court held that the county must bear the burden to show the costs it seeks to recover are reasonable and exclude any costs of incarceration, treatment, or supervision for the protection of society and the minor and the rehabilitation of the minor.
B.S. v. State, 862 So. 2d 15 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2003): The District Court of Appeal of Florida, Second District, held that (1) a statute requiring parents of juvenile detained during delinquency proceedings to pay fees to the state for cost of child's subsistence violated equal protection to the extent that statute did not relieve parent from paying fee if child was acquitted or state decided not to proceed, and (2) statute violated substantive due process insofar as it required payment of costs for juvenile's detention at home.
Dupes v. Fla. Dep't of Health & Rehab. Servs., 536 So. 2d 311 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 1988): The District Court of Appeal of Florida, First District, held that while the Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services could obtain reimbursement from parents for basic support costs for youth committed to Department custody, the Department’s assessment and collection of fees for costs of rehabilitation and treatment violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Florida Constitution. The court held that the purpose of treatment and rehabilitative services is to promote public safety and that placing the financial burden on one particular class of persons—parents of youth adjudicated delinquent—is arbitrary and irrational.
Van Daam v. Hegstrom, 744 P.2d 269 (Or. App. 1987): The Court of Appeals of Oregon reversed an order granting summary judgment for state defendants who charged parents for their children’s care when the children were committed to secure training school or to temporary work in training camp by the juvenile court. The appellate court held that, if proven, plaintiffs’ allegation that no fees were charged to parents whose minor children were tried in adult court and incarcerated in secure facilities established a violation of the equal privileges and immunities provisions of the Oregon constitution: neither the state’s penological purposes nor its interest in enforcing the parents' duty of support justified distinguishing parents whose children were tried as adults and those who were tried as juveniles.