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In re Welfare of J.C.P.

July 3, 2006

IN THE MATTER OF THE WELFARE OF J.C.P., JR.


Redwood County District Court File No. J6-05-1294.

SYLLABUS BY THE COURT

A juvenile does not have a Sixth Amendment right under Blakely v. Washington, 542 U.S. 296, 124 S. Ct. 2531 (2004), to a jury determination of the facts supporting adult certification.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Ross, Judge

Affirmed

Considered and decided by Shumaker, Presiding Judge; Wright, Judge; and Ross, Judge.

OPINION

In this appeal from an adult-certification order, appellant J.C.P. argues that because adult certification exposes a juvenile to a potentially greater sentence if convicted, he has a Sixth Amendment right to a jury determination of any fact supporting that certification under Blakely v. Washington. Because the constitutional protections available in the juvenile system arise from the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and not from the Sixth Amendment, and because adult certification is a pretrial jurisdictional determination, a juvenile does not have a Sixth Amendment right to a jury determination of facts supporting adult certification. We affirm.

FACTS

Appellant J.C.P., Jr., is a juvenile who was indicted on three counts of first-degree murder for an incident in which he allegedly participated in the killing of his uncle. According to the record available to us, the state alleges the following facts: J.C.P. attended and consumed alcohol at a party in Morton, Minnesota, in the late night and early morning hours of September 23 and 24, 2004. J.C.P. argued with his uncle at the party and became enraged. With the assistance of his friend, J.C.P. beat his uncle so violently that his uncle's blood spattered the walls nearly to the ceiling. Again with the assistance of others, J.C.P. continued to beat and kick his uncle even after his uncle became unconscious. J.C.P. left his unconscious uncle at the party, but he returned with friends with the intent to kill him. J.C.P. took his uncle's keys, wrapped him in a blanket, loaded him into his uncle's vehicle, and drove him to the Lower Sioux reservation where J.C.P. stabbed him 15 times. J.C.P. and his friends dumped the beaten, stabbed, dead uncle's body into the Minnesota River. They then set the uncle's vehicle ablaze. J.C.P. left the state, and police eventually arrested him in October 2004. Authorities initially charged J.C.P. by juvenile delinquency petition. The state later filed a motion for certification to prosecute J.C.P. as an adult. J.C.P. challenged the state's motion and argued that under Blakely v. Washington, 542 U.S. 296, 124 S.Ct. 2531 (2004), he is entitled to a jury determination of the facts supporting adult certification.

After a certification study and hearing, the juvenile court granted the state's motion and ordered certification. The juvenile court rejected J.C.P.'s Blakely argument and denied his request for a jury determination of the facts supporting certification. The juvenile court stayed the prosecution proceedings pending J.C.P.'s appeal of the adult-certification order. This appeal follows.

ISSUE

Does a juvenile have a Sixth Amendment right to a jury determination of the facts supporting adult certification?

ANALYSIS

J.C.P. argues that he has a Sixth Amendment right under Blakely to have a jury determine the facts supporting adult certification and that the statute permitting the district court to certify a juvenile as an adult based on clear and convincing evidence is therefore unconstitutional. The application of Blakely presents a constitutional issue, which we review de novo. State v. Hagen, 690 N.W.2d 155, 157 (Minn. App. 2004). We also review the constitutionality of a statute de novo. State v. Benniefield, 678 N.W.2d 42, 45 (Minn. ...


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