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In re Welfare of C. J. H.

Court of Appeals of Minnesota

May 18, 2015

In the Matter of the Welfare of: C. J. H., Child

Page 195

Itasca County District Court File No. 31-JV-13-2872.

SYLLABUS

The juvenile court's continuance of a delinquency proceeding after receiving the child's admission of a charged offense and waiver of trial rights constitutes a continuance without adjudication within the meaning of Minn. R. Juv. Delinq. P. 15.05, subds. 1(B), 4. This rule governs the case despite the juvenile court's initial withholding of a finding that the allegations of the charging document have been proved and the court's designation of its order as a continuance for dismissal under Minn. R. Juv. Delinq. P. 14. Accordingly, the duration of the court's subject-matter jurisdiction over the continued proceedings is limited as provided in rule 15 and the corresponding provision of the juvenile code.

For State of Minnesota, Respondent: Lori Swanson, Attorney General, St. Paul, Minnesota; and John J. Muhar, Itasca County Attorney, Mary J. Evenhouse, Assistant County Attorney, Grand Rapids, Minnesota.

For C.J.H., Appellant: Cathryn Middlebrook, Chief Appellate Public Defender, Susan J. Andrews, Assistant Public Defender, St. Paul, Minnesota.

Considered and decided by Hooten, Presiding Judge; Stauber, Judge; and Crippen, Judge[*].

OPINION

Page 196

CRIPPEN, Judge.

Appellant C.J.H. challenges the juvenile court's assertion of jurisdiction in the case over 250 days following a continuance of the matter in 2013. Despite designation of the continuance of appellant's delinquency proceeding as a continuance for dismissal, appellant argues that the continuance must be identified as a continuance without adjudication, which capped the court's jurisdiction at 180 days from the date of the order. Because appellant's argument is supported by the governing law, we vacate the court's delinquency adjudication and disposition due to the prior expiration of its jurisdiction. There is no merit in appellant's alternative argument that there is insufficient evidence to support the adjudication.

FACTS

In a juvenile court delinquency petition dated October 21, 2013, respondent State of Minnesota charged C.J.H., age 17, with third-degree criminal sexual conduct, attempted third-degree criminal sexual conduct, and consumption of alcohol by a minor. At a first-appearance hearing on November 27, by agreement of the parties, C.J.H. admitted facts to establish a factual basis for proving the second count of the petition, attempted third-degree criminal sexual conduct, in exchange for a " continuance for dismissal" on that charge and dismissal of the remaining charges.

As also agreed, C.J.H. waived his rights to a speedy trial, to remain silent, and to

Page 197

confront witnesses, and he acknowledged that he was essentially waiving his rights " to successfully defend [him]self at a later date." The district court advised the child that upon a violation of his conditions of continuance " all [the state will] have to do in the future is take your own words and present them to the Judge and you'll be found guilty of this felony." In its order, the court explained that the child agreed that a transcript of the factual basis offered by the child would later, in the event of a violation, " be able to prove the child guilty" of the offense. When later reviewing the child's agreement, the court characterized it as an " informed agreement to be adjudicated guilty if he violated the terms of his continuance." The child agreed to accept probationary conditions for a stay until his 19th birthday. Acting on the agreement of the parties, the juvenile court ordered " continuance for dismissal" of the delinquency proceeding, placed C.J.H. on supervised probation with conditions, and extended its jurisdiction through C.J.H.'s 19th birthday.

The state moved to terminate the continuance on June 20, 2014, on the grounds that C.J.H. had materially violated the conditions of his probation. On August 6, after a contested hearing on the state's motion, the juvenile court terminated the continuance and commenced a hearing on the charge of attempted third-degree criminal sexual conduct. At this hearing, the state presented a transcript of the November 2013 hearing and also furnished the partially-corroborative testimony of the 15-year-old victim H.R.L.--characterized by the state as her memory of " bits and pieces" of what transpired. Counsel for C.J.H. cross-examined H.R.L. only to ask the witness whether she voluntarily consumed drinks that were furnished to her. C.J.H. moved for judgment of acquittal, and the court denied the motion. The hearing resumed and concluded on September 17; C.J.H. neither testified nor called witnesses, and on October 8, the court found that the state had proved C.J.H.'s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, adjudicated him delinquent, and ordered a disposition for the remaining time before C.J.H. turned age 19.

ISSUES

I. Did the juvenile court have jurisdiction to adjudicate ...


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