This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1998).






In the Matter of the Welfare of:


J.L.N., Child.


Filed August 29, 2000


Harten, Judge


Yellow Medicine County District Court

File No. J3-99-50251


John M. Stuart, State Public Defender, Charlann E. Winking, Assistant Public Defender, 2829 University Avenue Southeast, Suite 600, Minneapolis, MN 55414 (for Child)


Mike Hatch, Attorney General, 525 Park Street, Suite 500, St. Paul, MN 55103; and


Thomas G. Kramer, Yellow Medicine County Attorney, Keith R. Helgeson, Assistant, 132 Eighth Avenue, P.O. Box 163, Granite Falls, MN 56241-0163 (for County)


            Considered and decided by Harten, Presiding Judge, Randall, Judge, and Halbrooks, Judge.

U N P U B L I S H E D   O P I N I O N


A juvenile challenges his disposition in a consequence-based residential program.  Because we see no abuse of discretion, we affirm.



            Appellant J.L.N., then 14, admitted to separate incidents of fifth-degree assault, criminal damage to property, disorderly conduct, and domestic assaultbetween August 9, 1999, and December 25, 1999.  The juvenile court’s order that J.L.N. complete a consequence-based program at Elmore Academy was based on the report of a court-ordered psychological evaluation and the recommendation of J.L.N.’s corrections agent.

            A clinical/forensic psychologist reported that J.L.N. is healthy, intelligent, personable, and friendly, has no psychological disorders, and has proclivities to be “self-centered and manipulative.”  The psychologist stated that J.L.N. does not need individual therapy, that therapeutic interventions have not been productive for J.L.N., that J.L.N. is in control of his behavior, that a “contingency management” approach might be more productive than the “insight-oriented” approaches already tried, and that “[c]orrections placements might be more capable of addressing the contingency management approach than mental health.”  The psychologist recommended a placement “where there is a strong behavioral rehabilitation emphasis, structure, and consequences rather than a therapy-oriented program.”

J.L.N.’s corrections agent wrote to the juvenile court that she was


recommending that the Court order [J.L.N.] to complete the program at Elmore Academy.  [J.L.N.’s] behavior seems to be escalating over the past few months.  * * *  He has spent time at the St. Cloud Children’s Home (only to be removed due to his aggressive behavior), the Lyon County Group Home, and Prairie Lakes Detention Center (PLDC).  He never completed the stay at PLDC as he contracted Mono.  He was allowed a choice of returning to PLDC for 9 days or do 40 days of home detention.  He chose home detention which began as set by this agent on 12/22/99.  He lasted until 12/25/99 when he committed the new offenses.


J.L.N. challenges the juvenile court’s order that he complete a program at Elmore Academy.


            The juvenile court’s broad discretion in delinquency dispositions will be affirmed provided that it is not arbitrary.  In re Welfare of L.K.W., 372 N.W.2d 392, 397 (Minn. App. 1985) (citation omitted).

Minn. Stat. § 260B.198, subd. 1(m) (Supp. 1999) mandate considering the best interests of the child and possible alternative dispositions in disposition cases; Minn. R. Juv. P. 15.05, subd. 2, mandates considering public safety, parental placement, and the suitability of a placement to the child’s needs.  See also In re Welfare of C.A.W., 579 N.W.2d 494, 497-98 (Minn. App. 1998) (establishing findings on these five factors as essential in disposition cases).  The juvenile court considered and made findings relative to each factor.  J.L.N. challenges each finding.

1.         Public Safety

            The juvenile court found that although none of J.L.N.’s acts was grossly violent,  his acts were unrelenting, persistent, and “cumulatively threatening.”  J.L.N. denies that his acts were “cumulatively threatening.”  The record shows that within six months, from June 1999 to December 1999, J.L.N. was charged twice with fifth-degree criminal assault, once with disorderly conduct, and once with criminal damage to property, that he changed residence several times during this period, and that his last offense was committed while he was on house arrest, with which he failed to cooperate.  The finding is supported by the record.

2.         Best Interests of the Child

            The juvenile court found that placement at Elmore Academy would “encourage [J.L.N.] to understand the consequences of his acts before more severe adult consequences are necessary.”  J.L.N. claims this finding is defective because it does not specify why Elmore Academy is suitable for him.  The finding, however, is based on the reports of the psychologist who evaluated J.L.N. and the corrections agent who worked with him; these reports agree that J.L.N. needs placement in a consequences-based facility rather than in a therapy-based facility.

 J.L.N. concedes that Elmore Academy is a consequences-based facility but claims it lacks the family-counseling component he needs.  The psychologist specifically found that J.L.N.’s father has prosocial values and a positive work ethic, appears to be devoted to J.L.N., and wants the best for him, and that both J.L.N.’s parents are committed to his welfare and eager to see him succeed.  Neither J.L.N. nor his family was described as needing counseling.

3.                  Alternative Dispositions

The juvenile court rejected previous placements of J.L.N. as unsuccessful, placement at PLDC as “too short term to impact [J.L.N.]” and placement at home as having been rejected by J.L.N. himself.

            J.L.N. challenges the juvenile court’s view that a different type of placement is needed because he has continued to re-offend.  This was also the view of the psychologist and the corrections agent, and J.L.N. does not explain his own belief that previously unsuccessful programs would be successful now.  The finding is supported by the record.

4.         Parent Placement

            The juvenile court found that J.L.N. and his parents “have a long history of strife” and that “nothing indicate[s] that this is likely to change without intervention.”  J.L.N. claims that the court erred in not placing J.L.N. with his grandparents during the week and with his father only on weekends.  We note that family custody is a preferred option.  See Minn. R. Juv. P. 15.05, subd. 2 (B)(3).  But there is no support for J.L.N.’s view that a child who has been violent in the home and unamenable to home detention should be left in the home for part of the time and placed with other relatives the rest of the time.

5.         Suitability of the Placement

            The juvenile court found that “Elmore Academy has the program and staff to work with the aggressive tendencies of [J.L.N.]”  J.L.N. claims this finding is inadequate because there is a lack of evidence on Elmore Academy.  But there was evidence that Elmore Academy is one of the only facilities other than Red Wing willing to handle children with behavior problems like J.L.N.’s and J.L.N. does not dispute that Elmore Academy is the type of facility recommended by the psychologist and the corrections agent. 

            The juvenile court’s order that J.L.N. complete the program at Elmore Academy was not arbitrary.