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Waiver of juvenile court jurisdiction over 15-year-old upheld

State v. T.D.M., 2015AP2289, 4/20/16, District 2, (1-judge opinion; ineligible for publication); case activity

T.D.M. was charged with burglary and theft, as party to a crime, and obstructing an officer. The circuit court waived him into to adult court mostly because his “pattern of living” was more like an adult’s than a juvenile’s. That is, he was not reliant upon his mother for large periods of time. His whereabouts were unknown for at least 3 months in 2014. He allegedly had fathered a child. He did not attend school or avail himself of services. And he repeatedly violated curfew and came and went as he pleased. See ¶14.

In making a waiver determination, the circuit court considers: the juvenile’s personality, his prior record, the type and seriousness of his offense, and the adequacy suitability of facilities, services and procedures for treating him and protecting the public within the juvenile system. See Wis. Stat. §938.18(5). The circuit court must then find clear and convincing evidence that “it is contrary to the best interests of the juvenile or the public” for the case to be heard in juvenile court. See Wis. Stat. §938.18(6).

T.D.M. argued that the circuit court placed too much weight on some of the above criteria and not enough on others. That was a nonstarter because the circuit court has the discretion to decide how much weight to afford each one of the criteria. See ¶15 (citing G.B.K. v. State, 126 Wis. 2d 253, 259, 376 N.W.2d 385 (Ct. App. 1985)). The court of appeals walked through the waiver factors and cited the extensive evidence that supported the circuit court’s findings on each one. It adopted the State’s assessment verbatim:

¶22 . . . As the State notes, and we agree:

There is nothing in this record that would demonstrate that the juvenile court misused its discretion. The court carefully considered the facts in front of it, applied those facts to the … statutory criteria required by [WIS. STAT. §] 938.18(5), and came to a reasonable conclusion that remaining in juvenile court was not in the best interest of the juvenile or the public.

… [T.D.M.] essentially is asking this court to substitute [his] view of the waiver criteria for that found by the juvenile court. He asks this court to overrule the discretionary decision of the juvenile court, but provides no real legal basis to do so.

The circuit court did not erroneously exercise its discretion when it waived juvenile jurisdiction over T.D.M. in this case.


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