Justia New Hampshire Supreme Court Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Juvenile Law
State v. Rouleau
In the case at hand, the defendant, Timmy J. Rouleau, was convicted of multiple counts of sexual assault following a jury trial in the Superior Court of New Hampshire. The case involved claims that the defendant sexually assaulted the victim multiple times when she was between the ages of ten and thirteen. The Supreme Court of New Hampshire reviewed the case focusing on the trial court's decision to admit evidence about an Amazon "wish list" containing sexually oriented items. The defendant argued that the evidence was not intrinsic to the charged crimes and should not have been admitted.The Supreme Court of New Hampshire concluded that the wish list evidence was not intrinsic to the charged crimes, and thus, its admission was an error. However, the court ruled that this error was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt. The court reached this conclusion by considering the overwhelming evidence of the defendant's guilt presented at trial, including the victim's detailed testimony of the repeated sexual assaults. The court also noted that the wish list evidence comprised a small portion of the victim's testimony and was not mentioned in the State's closing argument. Therefore, even though the evidence was admitted erroneously, it did not affect the verdicts, and the court ultimately affirmed the convictions. View "State v. Rouleau" on Justia Law
In re D.J.
Juvenile D.J. appealed a circuit court's finding of delinquency based on a petition alleging that he committed harassment under RSA 644:4, I(b) (Supp. 2021). The victim told the juveniles that they were not supposed to be riding bicycles on the sidewalk. D.J. told the victim to go “f**k himself.” D.J. continued to yell at the victim, who testified that D.J. was “swearing, saying f**k this and f**k that and you’re nothing but an old man.” The victim yelled back at D.J. and asserted that he could do martial arts. D.J. got off his bicycle, provoked the victim to fight, and took off his shirt. The owner of a store across the street from this encounter observed the confrontation and, after it had gone on for approximately five minutes, she began to record it using her cellphone. The store owner also called the police. The incident lasted approximately eight minutes, until a patrol officer arrived at the scene. D.J. argued there was insufficient evidence to support the trial court’s finding, and that RSA 644:4, I(b) was unconstitutional as applied and on its face. Finding no reversible error, the New Hampshire Supreme Court affirmed. View "In re D.J." on Justia Law
Petition of State of New Hampshire
The State petitioned for certiorari review of an order of a superior court order declining to accept the transfer of a juvenile delinquency case because the superior court concluded that the circuit court erred when it found that the juvenile was competent. The superior court remanded to the circuit court for a new competency determination. The State argued that RSA 169-B:24 (2022) did not authorize the superior court to conduct an appellate review of the circuit court’s competency ruling. The New Hampshire Supreme Court agreed with the State that review of competency was outside the scope of the superior court’s appellate authority under RSA 169- B:24, and reversed and remanded the superior court's order. View "Petition of State of New Hampshire" on Justia Law
Posted in: Juvenile Law
Petition of State of New Hampshire
The State of New Hampshire petitioned for original jurisdiction to the New Hampshire Supreme Court to challenge a circuit court order that granted respondent’s motion to dismiss a juvenile delinquency petition. The trial court ruled that the State failed to comply with RSA 169-B:6, IV(b) (2022) because no “manifestation review” had occurred prior to the filing of the delinquency petition. The Supreme Count found the term “manifestation review,” in the context of a juvenile delinquency petition resulting from conduct in a school setting by a student with a disability, referred to a process whereby a school, the student’s parents, and other parties review the student’s individualized education plan (IEP) and other relevant information to determine whether the alleged misconduct stemmed from the student’s disability or the school’s failure to implement the student’s IEP. The Court affirmed and held that whenever a delinquency petition is to be filed pursuant to RSA 169-B:6, IV(b) and the legally liable school district has determined that the child is a child with a disability according to RSA 186-C:2, I, then a manifestation review must be performed prior to the filing of the delinquency petition. "Of course, if the legislature disagrees with our construction of RSA 169-B:6, IV, it is free, within constitutional limits, to amend the statute accordingly." View "Petition of State of New Hampshire" on Justia Law
Petition of Devin Miles
Petitioner Devin Miles sought certiorari review of superior court decisions denying his motion to quash an indictment against him, his renewed motion to quash, his motion for interlocutory appeal, and his motion for findings of fact and rulings of law. In August 2019, the State filed three juvenile delinquency petitions against petitioner in the family division of the circuit court. One of the juvenile petitions charged the petitioner with a pattern of aggravated felonious sexual assault (AFSA). Petitioner argued the court erred by failing to quash the indictment because, in his view, the indictment was contrary to RSA 169-B:4, VII (Supp. 2021) and violated New Hampshire Rule of Criminal Procedure 20(a)(4) as well as his double jeopardy rights pursuant to the State and Federal Constitutions. Finding no reversible error, the New Hampshire Supreme Court affirmed the superior court. View "Petition of Devin Miles" on Justia Law
Petition of State of New Hampshire
In August 2019, the State of New Hampshire filed three juvenile delinquency petitions against Respondent in the family division, charging him with one count of pattern aggravated felonious sexual assault (AFSA), one count of felonious sexual assault, and one count of indecent exposure. The AFSA petition alleged that the acts comprising the pattern offense occurred on four specific dates: June 22, 2018; August 24, 2018; September 15, 2018; and May 27, 2019. When the petitions were filed, the alleged victim was six years old and Respondent was seventeen years old. Respondent turned eighteen in November 2019 and at the time of this appeal was twenty years old. After filing the petitions, the State, pursuant to RSA 169-B:24, petitioned to certify Respondent as an adult and transfer the case to superior court. This petition was denied and the New Hampshire Supreme Court accepted the State’s Rule 11 petition to determine whether the superior court erred in denying the State’s petition to certify Respondent as an adult. Finding the superior court so erred, the Supreme Court reversed and remanded. View "Petition of State of New Hampshire" on Justia Law
In re G.B.
A New Hampshire circuit court issued an adjudicatory order finding that G.B., a minor, had been neglected, but that respondents, G/B/'s adoptive parents, were not at fault for the neglect. Subsequently, the court issued a dispositional order awarding legal custody of G.B. to the New Hampshire Division for Children, Youth and Families (DCYF) and requiring DCYF to seek placement for G.B. in a residential treatment facility. DCYF appealed both orders, and G.B.’s guardian ad litem (GAL), Court Appointed Special Advocates of New Hampshire (CASA), joined in appealing the dispositional order. The New Hampshire Supreme Court concluded the circuit court erred as a matter of law when it ruled that the respondents did not neglect G.B. The Court further concluded that, although the circuit court did not err by ruling G.B. a neglected child and ordering G.B.’s placement in a residential treatment facility, it failed to identify legally permissible primary and concurrent case plans in its dispositional order. Accordingly, judgment was affirmed in part, reversed in part, vacated in part, and remanded. View "In re G.B." on Justia Law
In re J.S.
Juvenile J.S. appealed a circuit court’s finding of delinquency based on petitions alleging criminal mischief, simple assault and attempted simple assault. The petitions were filed after a series of events in September 2020 at the Mount Prospect Academy, a non-secure detention facility whose students are placed there due to behavioral issues. At the close of the State’s case at the adjudicatory hearing, the court granted the juvenile’s motion to dismiss one of the petitions for insufficiency of evidence, and denied his motions to dismiss the remaining petitions for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The latter motions argued that the court lacked subject matter jurisdiction because the State failed to comply with RSA 169- B:6, III and IV. On appeal, the juvenile argued the trial court “erred as a matter of law in determining that, on the undisputed facts in the record here, Mount Prospect Academy is not a school.” Accordingly, he contended the court erred by failing to dismiss the delinquency petitions. The New Hampshire Supreme Court upheld the trial court’s determination on the facts presented in this case, that Mount Prospect was not a “school” for purposes of RSA 169-B:6, III and IV. Accordingly, the Court upheld the trial court’s denial of the motions to dismiss and affirm the finding of delinquency. View "In re J.S." on Justia Law
New Hampshire v. Lopez, Jr.
Defendant Eduardo Lopez, Jr. committed murder at age 17. Following his conviction, defendant received a statutorily-mandated sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. In 2012, the United States Supreme Court issued Miller v. Alabama, 567 U.S. 460 (2012), ruling that “the Eighth Amendment forbids a sentencing scheme that mandates life in prison without possibility of parole for juvenile offenders.” Accordingly, in 2017, the trial court held a two-day resentencing hearing at which it heard testimony from the arresting police officer, several members of the murder victim’s family, an addiction psychiatrist, a forensic psychologist, several members of the defendant’s family, and the defendant. Following the hearing, taking into consideration the record before it, “the nature and circumstances of the underlying crime, the characteristics of the defendant, and the traditional sentencing factors,” the court imposed a sentence of 45 years to life. Defendant appealed that sentence, arguing 45-year-to-life constituted a de facto equivalent of of lifetime imprisonment in violation of the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution. The New Hampshire Supreme Court held the trial court did not err in determining that the 45-year-to-life sentence it imposed, under which defendant had an opportunity to be considered for parole when he reached 62 years of age, was not a de facto life sentence under the Eighth Amendment to the Federal Constitution. Accordingly, the sentence was affirmed. View "New Hampshire v. Lopez, Jr." on Justia Law
Petition of the State of New Hampshire
The State of New Hampshire filed a petition for original jurisdiction seeking review of a circuit court order denying a request by the Office of the Attorney General (AGO) to release records underlying its investigation into an incident involving minors. According to the AGO, in 2017, there was an incident involving several minors in Claremont, New Hampshire. The AGO, the United States Attorney’s Office, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Claremont Police Department jointly investigated the incident. Subsequently, the Sullivan County Attorney filed delinquency petitions in the circuit court against one of the juveniles. The AGO asserted that the evidence obtained during the investigation was not confidential under RSA 169-B:35 but, even if it were, “significant policy considerations” allowed disclosure as long as the juvenile’s identity was protected. Following a hearing, the trial court rejected the AGO’s argument that RSA chapter 169-B did not apply to the AGO’s investigatory records. The court stated that “RSA 169-B:35 provides that all case records relative to delinquencies are confidential. Publication of information concerning a juvenile case is strictly prohibited with few legislatively enacted exceptions. None of those exceptions apply in this case.” The New Hampshire Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court’s ruling that the records were confidential under RSA 169-B:35 (Supp. 2018). View "Petition of the State of New Hampshire" on Justia Law