Juvenile Improperly Tried as Adult


Case: People v. Johnson

Court: Michigan Court of Appeals ( Unpublished Opinion )

Issues:

Waiver of the family court’s jurisdiction over the trial; Whether it was proper for the defendant-juvenile to be tried as an adult under MCL 712A.4(4); In re Fultz; People v. Lane; MCL 712A.4(4)(a)-(f); People v. Pett; Whether it was purely speculative to conclude that he would not take advantage of or participate meaningfully in programming; Whether the trial court relied exclusively on the seriousness of the alleged offense; Argument pertaining to the best interests of defendant & the public; Mitcham v. Detroit

Summary:

Although the court found no error in the trial court’s conclusion under MCL 712A.4(4)(a)-(c), it held that the trial court’s conclusions under MCL 712A.4(4)(d), (e), and (f) were necessarily incorrect, vacated the family court’s decision to waive jurisdiction over the trial, and remanded. The defendant-juvenile was charged with first-degree home invasion, conspiracy to commit first-degree home invasion, and three counts of armed robbery. He was 15 years old, and according to the probable cause findings, he participated in a home invasion with two accomplices, threatened those present, including a child, with a gun, and stole a number of possessions. He conceded that he had “no legal grounds to contest the probable cause findings,” but rather challenged the trial court’s determination that it was proper for him to be tried as an adult under MCL 712A.4(4). As to MCL 712A.4(4)(d), (e), and (f), the trial court found that “no services have been implemented but [defendant] has no desire to be rehabilitated according to his probation officer.” It reasoned that “dispositional options within the juvenile system has had no effect on him,” and “[p]erhaps the adult system will have programs which would be available.” Defendant argued that because no available programming has been offered to him, it was purely speculative to conclude that he would not take advantage of or participate meaningfully in the programming. The court agreed. “It is undeniable that defendant has a history of deviant behavior, but because the family court had never actually implemented any programming, there could not be any evidence or findings made regarding defendant’s past willingness to meaningfully participate in programming.” Also, discussion on the record after the trial court reached its findings suggested that the programs available to defendant in the adult program were significantly less comprehensive than the trial court apparently believed. The fact that his defiance was entirely non-violent was given inadequate weight. The trial court clearly erred in concluding that he did not benefit from, and would not benefit from, services available to but never offered to him.

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