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Waiver of juvenile to adult court upheld

State v. Juwon B., 2014AP2504, District 2, 2/11/15 (1-judge decision; ineligible for publication); case activity

The circuit court properly exercised its discretion in waiving Juwon to adult court despite the fact Juwon lacked any prior record and was a “good kid who made a mistake.”

Juwon challenged the circuit court’s conclusion that he had no rehabilitative needs that would appropriately be addressed in juvenile court, pointing to testimony about community-based programs that would allow Juwon to build on skills he already has. (¶8). This argument falls before the endlessly forgiving erroneous exercise of discretion standard applicable to waiver decisions, State v. Tyler T., 2012 WI 52, ¶24, 341 Wis. 2d 1, 814 N.W.2d 192:

¶9        The circuit court gave a reasoned explanation for its conclusion that Juwon did not have a need for rehabilitation. The court took into account that all services were available, but concluded that none were suitable. Given Juwon’s background, the court could not identify any rehabilitative needs. The court saw Juwon as a good kid who had made some bad choices, bad choices that were not subject to rehabilitation in the juvenile court system. … Given the social worker’s testimony about the drawbacks of the different options in Juwon’s case, it was not unreasonable for the circuit court to conclude that Juwon was not a prospect for rehabilitation in the juvenile court system. …

Juwon also argued the circuit court gave too much weight to Juwon’s age (16 years), which would give little time for the juvenile system to work. (¶¶10-11). This argument is rejected under G.B.K. v. State, 126 Wis. 2d 253, 260, 376 N.W.2d 385 (Ct. App. 1985) (it is appropriate for the court to give weight to “the short period of time left in the juvenile system”).

Lastly, the record shows the circuit court applied the waiver standard—whether it was in the best interests of Juwon or the public to waive jurisdiction. It’s failure to make an explicit finding that the standard was met doesn’t matter: “The court need not follow a rote, formulaic approach to its ruling. The court addressed all the statutory factors. It explained its reasoning and conclusion. It stated the burden the State had to meet and indicated that it had been met. This was an appropriate exercise of discretion.” (¶14).

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