Court Cases By Subject

Juvenile Court Cases

Wisconsin v. Jones
322 Wis. 2d 736 (Ct. App. Wisc. 2009)

Defendant charged with first-degree intentional homicide while armed and attempted armed robbery. He was 16 when he committed crime but was charged as an adult. Defendant made plea bargain and pled guilty and now seeks to withdraw, claiming he did not understand the elements of the charge against him. He blames the misunderstanding in part on his partial fetal alcohol syndrome. Court found his FAS impacted his impulse control and not his ability to comprehend. Found he did understand the charges and denied request to withdraw plea.

In the Matter of the Welfare of A.J.F.
2007 Minn. App. Unpub. LEXIS 73 (Ct. App. Minn. 2007)

Juvenile defendant charged with first-degree murder, first-degree aggravated robbery, second-degree assault, kidnapping, first-degree burglary and first-degree sexual conduct appeals order certifying him to be tried as an adult. In certifying, court may consider level of culpability and any mitigating factors. Defendant argues the court did not consider his age and diagnoses of ADHD or fetal alcohol effects/neurobehavioral disorder as mitigating factors. Experts did not find that his FASD constituted a mitigating factor here so order affirmed.

Michigan v. Rueckert
2005 Mich. App. LEXIS 532 (Ct. App. Mich. 2005)

Juvenile defendant pled guilty to third-degree sexual conducted and was sentenced as an adult and defendant appeals decision to sentence as adult. Defendant was born with fetal alcohol syndrome with significant complications and continues to suffer the effects. He has been diagnosed as mildly retarded and emotionally impaired. The court found that due to defendant’s treatment history and repeated misconduct indicate, sentencing him as an adult cannot be shown to have been more reasonably calculated to rehabilitate him.

Minnesota v. Fardan
773 N.W.2d 303 (Minn. 2009)

Juvenile defendant convicted of first-degree felony murder, second-degree felony murder and first-degree aggravated robbery. Defendant appeals conviction arguing that his Miranda waiver was invalid because of his limited ability to comprehend. Evaluation of defendant determined he showed minimal characteristics of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder and he was diagnosed with Fetal Alcohol Effects/Neurobehavioral Disorder. He was in the average range overall in cognitive abilities and academic achievement and on the low end of average in functions like memory, language and adaptive behavior skills. Court found that his disability did not affect his ability to make a valid Miranda waiver and he had the necessary intelligence and capacity to understand the warnings. His Fetal Alcohol diagnosis also found not severe enough to constitute a mitigating factor in sentencing.

United States v. McQuade
403 F.3d 717 (10th Cir. 2005)

Juvenile defendant charged with two counts of aggravated sexual abuse and was tried as an adult. The court found that juvenile’s diagnosis of FAS made him less amenable to treatment especially in juvenile treatment facilities. Court found that juvenile facilities would not be equipped to provide him with the necessary psychological treatment for his anti-social personality disorder, inability to appreciate the wrongfulness and harmfulness of his actions, loss of control of sexual and aggressive impulses and his narcissistic tendencies.

In re Welfare of G.A.R.B.
2004 WL 51814 (Minn. Ct. App. 2004)

Minor charged with second-degree murder and tried as an adult. Minor challenged certification as an adult arguing that his lead poisoning, clinical depression and probable affliction with FAS were mitigating factors undermining his culpability in the crime. There was no formal diagnosis of FAS and no evidence of mental deficiency introduced at trial so the court could not accept it as a mitigating factor.

In the Matter of the Welfare of J.R.T.
2004 WL 614804 (Minn. Ct. App. 2004)

Minor was charged with second-degree murder and certified as an adult. He challenged the certification arguing diminished culpability for the murder because he lacked substantial capacity for judgment at the time of the offense due to his major depression and conduct disorders and fetal alcohol syndrome or fetal alcohol effects. Court found that minor presented no evidence at certification hearing show how FAS or other conditions affected his judgment on the day of crime and found the lower court was not erroneous in finding a lack of mitigating factors.

State v. Christoph
2000 WL 1854134 (Wash. App. Div. 3)

Christoph was diagnosed with FAS and was repeatedly institutionalized for psychiatric problems. When she was 16, she told a staff member at a residential adolescent psychiatric facility that she had repeatedly abused her younger sister.

The information was passed to the police, and Christoph was charged with one count of rape in the first degree. She was represented by the Public Defender's Office in Spokane. She pled guilty and was committed to custody for 21-28 weeks.

Four years later Christoph obtained new counsel and moved to vacate her guilty plea, alleging that she had been denied the effective assistance of counsel when she pled guilty. The lower court held that christoph had been denied the effective assistance of counsel, and set aside her guilty plea and conviction. The appellate court affirmed.

The lower court concluded from contemporaneous police reports that the alleged victim had never even been interviewed by authorities. Aside from Christoph's confession,

"there was no evidence a crime was committed. . . . According to the corpus delicti doctrine, a defendant's confession, unsubstantiated by independent evidence, will not sustain a conviction."

2000 WL 1854134 at *5.

The lower court

"found that counsel conducted no independent investigation of any kind. The record supports the court's finding that a minimally adequate investigation could have discovered Ms. Christoph's documented long-term mental and emotional difficulties and sufficient exculpatory evidence to warrant dismissal of the information, or at the very least, to support a plea bargain for reduced charges."

2000 WL 1854134 at *4.

In re Interest of Crystal T.
4 Neb. App. 503, 546 N.W. 2d 77 (1996)

The adoptive parents adopted Crystal when she was 5. The state Department of Social Services recognized that she probably had FAS and had been damaged by her previous placements, perhaps by earlier sexual abuse. The state agreed to include Crystal in a subsidized adoption program, which included medical coverage specifically including mental health costs due to "prenatal alcohol use." 546 N.W. 2d at 79.

When Crystal was 13, the county brought her into juvenile court, and had her placed in the custody of the Department and placed in a juvenile institution. The state then sued the adoptive parents to force them to pay $425 a month for Crystal's support while she was in the facility.

The Court held that the Department's agreement to pay for "medical/mental health treatment" included the cost of the group home. 546 N.W. 2d at 84.

State v. E.A.J.
67 P. 3d 518 (Wa. Ct. App. 2003)

E.A.J., then age 13, was charged with using force to sexually assault a 5 year old girl who knew and trusted him. Dr. Robin Ladue testified that E.A.J.'s family history, intellectual ability and behavior indicated that he might have FAS or FAE. 67 P. 2d at 523. She also testified that he needed prolonged treatment, and recommended that E.A.J. remain in the community during treatment, rather than being jailed.

The appeal concerned an unrelated issue about the interpretation of a plea bargain that had been entered into between E.A.J. and the prosecution.

In the Matter of the Welfare of G.A.R.B.
2004 WL 51814 (Minn. App.)

G.A.R.B., a minor, was charged with second-degree murder. He challenged his "certification as an adult", which meant that G.A.R.B. would be tried as an adult.

In opposing that certification, counsel for G.A.R.B. argued that FAS was a mitigating factor. The appellate court upheld the decision of the district court that no mitigating factors were present. "[W]hile it has been suspected that G.A.R.B. may have been born with FAS, this diagnosis has never been established." 2004 WL 51814 at *2.

People v. Michael A.
2003 WL 2240513 (Cal. App. 5th)

This is a juvenile proceeding against Michael A., then 13 or 14. At the request of the defense, the court granted a continuance so that a psychologist could determine if Michael was competent to understand the proceedings and cooperate with counsel.

The psychologist concluded that there was a gross inability to assist counsel. The bases of the conclusion included the fact that Michael had been diagnosed with FAS.

The trial court, without holding a hearing, ruled that Michael was competent to stand trial. The appellate court reversed, holding that the trial court was required to hold a hearing on Michael's competency to stand trial.

Mohawk Trail Regional School District v. Shaun D.
35 F. Supp. 2d 34 (D.Mass. 1999)

Shaun D. was initially a student in the Mohawk Trail Regional School District. He had a number of behavioral problems, including FAS, post-traumatic stress disorder, and pedophilia. Because of those problems Shaun was eligible for special education under the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. For a number of years Shaun was part of a specially structured education program in the Mohawk Trail schools, including constant line-of-sight adult supervision.

Shaun's out-of-school behavior deteriorated, and he was placed in the Whitney Academy, a residential school for mentally retarded children with sexually offending behavior. The question in the case was whether the Mohawk Trail School District was obligated to pay the costs of the Whitney Academy. The School District argued that the primary reason that Shaun was there, his sexually offending conduct, was not an educational need, and that the IDEA did not require that placement. The court held that treatment of that conduct was sufficiently connected with educational programs that the School District was financially responsible for the cost of the Academy.

In re the Detention of Nicholas
1999 WL 305229 (Wa. App. 2d)

Upon completion of Nicholas' term of confinement for assault with sexual motivation, the state brought this action to have Nicholas determined to be a sexually violent predator and to have him committed to the custody of the Department of Social and Health Services until he was "so changed that [Nicholas] is safe to be conditionally released to a less restrictive alterative or unconditionally discharged." The trial court ordered that Nicholas be so detained, and the appellate court affirmed.

The appellate court's opinion states in part:

"[Nicholas] is also developmentally disabled and may also suffer from fetal alcohol syndrome. [Nicholas's] personality disorder and developmental disability effect [sic] both his ability to control his paraphilia and his ability to profit from treatment."

1999 WL 305229 at *3.

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