This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2000).

 

STATE OF MINNESOTA

IN COURT OF APPEALS

C8-00-1286

 

 

In Re the Matter of the Welfare

of:  J.S.

 

 

Filed May 15, 2001

Reversed and remanded

Willis, Judge

 

Brown County District Court

File No. J79950097

 

John M. Stuart, State Public Defender, Charlann Winking, Assistant State Public Defender, 2829 University Avenue SE, Suite 600, Minneapolis, MN  55414 (for appellant J.S.)

 

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

 

James R. Olson, Brown County Attorney, James T. Clark, Assistant County Attorney, 519 Center Street, P.O. Box 428, New Ulm, MN  56073 (for respondent)

 

            Considered and decided by Amundson, Presiding Judge, Klaphake, Judge, and Willis, Judge.

U N P U B L I S H E D   O P I N I O N

WILLIS, Judge

            Appellant challenges his adjudication of juvenile delinquency and his out-of-home placement following a violation of probation.  Because appellant did not timely file a notice of appeal as to the adjudication, we lack authority to accept appeal from the adjudication, but we reverse the disposition and remand for the statutorily required findings.

FACTS

In March 1999, appellant J.S. pleaded guilty to receiving stolen property and theft of a motor vehicle.  The district court adjudicated J.S. delinquent in April 1999 and ordered him to complete the “60/30 day program” at the Anoka County Juvenile Center.  He was then transferred to the Chain of Lakes Juvenile Resource Center to complete its residential program and was also required to perform community service and to pay restitution.

After a disposition review hearing in February 2000, the court ordered that J.S. (1) be returned to his mother’s custody, (2) remain under 24-hour adult supervision, and (3) be placed on the “intensive supervision juvenile probation program.”  J.S. subsequently was removed from his mother’s home for marijuana use and “failing to follow all home rules and conditions” of his probation.  He was placed in detention until a probation-violation hearing could be held.

            J.S. admitted to violating conditions of his probation, and the court revoked probation and ordered that J.S. be committed to Elmore Academy.  But the court stayed the commitment and again returned J.S. to his mother’s custody.  Later that month, Traci Green, J.S.’s probation officer, filed a probation-violation report alleging that J.S. failed “to follow all home rules and conditions of” his probation by “being out of the home” without parental supervision.  J.S. maintains that while at a store with his stepfather, he was given permission to go “for a ride in his [friend’s] new car.”

            The court revoked J.S.’s probation and executed his commitment to Elmore Academy.  J.S. contests the adjudication and the placement order, arguing that the sanction was disproportionate to his offenses and that the court did not make the statutorily required written findings.  This appeal followed.

D E C I S I O N

I.

Appellant argues that his adjudication is invalid because the court accepted his guilty pleas without advising him of his constitutional trial rights and did not obtain a personal waiver of those rights.  Although he admits that his appeal on this issue is untimely, he contends that the interests of justice require this court to determine whether his guilty pleas were valid.  The Minnesota Rules of Juvenile Procedure provide that an “appeal shall be taken within thirty (30) days after the filing of the order appealed from.”  Minn. R. Juv. P. 21.03, subd. 2(A).   The district court adjudicated J.S. delinquent in April 1999; J.S. filed a notice of appeal in July 2000, 15 months later.

J.S.’s failure to timely serve a notice of appeal deprives this court of jurisdiction as to this issue.  See Minn. R. Civ. App. P. 126.02 (providing that time to file notice of appeal may not be extended); Township of Honner v. Redwood County, 518 N.W.2d 639, 641 (Minn. App. 1994) (stating that while supreme court may accept jurisdiction over untimely appeal in the interests of justice, court of appeals lacks jurisdiction to consider untimely appeal), review denied (Minn. Sept. 16, 1994).  We therefore lack authority to accept the untimely appeal from the adjudication.

II.

J.S. next argues that the district court’s placement order must be reversed because “the record does not contain evidence or findings to support the need” for out-of-home placement.  District courts are afforded broad discretion to determine appropriate juvenile-delinquency dispositions, and this court will affirm dispositions that are not “arbitrary.”  In re Welfare of J.A.J., 545 N.W.2d 412, 414 (Minn. App. 1996) (citation omitted).  “[J]uvenile court delinquency dispositions in Minnesota are lawful only when determined ‘necessary to the rehabilitation of the child.’”  In re Welfare of C.A.W., 579 N.W.2d 494, 496-97 (Minn. App. 1998) (quoting Minn. Stat. § 260.185, subd. 1 (1996)).[1]  A disposition requiring out-of-home placement must be supported by evidence that the placement is “the least drastic step necessary to restore law-abiding conduct in the juvenile.”  In re Welfare of M.R.S., 400 N.W.2d 147, 151 (Minn. App. 1987) (citation omitted). 

            In addition, a district court ordering out-of-home placement is required to make findings of fact that show (1) why public safety is served by the disposition, (2) why the best interests of the child are served by the disposition, (3) what alternative dispositions were proposed to the court and why they were not ordered, (4) why the child’s present custody arrangement is not acceptable, and (5) how the correctional placement meets the child’s needs.  Minn. Stat. § 260B.198, subd. 1(m) (2000); Minn. R. Juv. P. 15.05, subd. 2(A); C.A.W., 579 N.W.2d at 497-98.  Written findings are essential to meaningful appellate review.  In re Welfare of L.K.W., 372 N.W.2d 392, 401 (Minn. App. 1985).  Findings also are required to show that the district court considered “vital standards” and to enable the parties to understand the court’s decision.  Id. at 400-401. 

            On June 22, 2000, in a one-paragraph order, the district court stated that J.S.

is found to have violated the conditions of the stay of commitment to Elmore Academy as provided pursuant to the hearing on June 7, 2000.  The stay of commitment to Elmore Academy is hereby revoked.  Said Juvenile shall be committed to Elmore Academy and transportation shall be arranged by the Probation Department of Brown County.

 

The court made no written findings either in the June 2000 order or in its previous order committing J.S. to Elmore Academy and staying commitment conditionally.  This court has repeatedly emphasized the importance of findings, holding that the absence of adequate juvenile-disposition findings is reversible error.  See id. at 401 (stating that insufficient findings are an independent basis for reversal); In re Welfare of J.S.S., 610 N.W.2d 364, 368 (Minn. App. 2000) (reversing for failure to make sufficient statutorily required written findings of fact); C.A.W., 579 N.W.2d at 499 (reversing where district court’s findings did not adequately address factors necessary to justify out-of-home placement); In re Welfare of M.A.C.,455 N.W.2d 494, 499 (Minn. App. 1990) (explaining that failure to make statutorily required written findings warrants reversal); In re Welfare of L.B., 404 N.W.2d 341, 346 (Minn.  App. 1987) (stating that absence of sufficient written findings is reversible error even though record indicates court considered other dispositions and had good reasons for its choice).

            Respondent admits in its brief that

the court’s findings could have addressed these five subjects in a more direct fashion.  However, it is argued that each factor was addressed during the hearings and indeed considered by the court when weighing the placement decision.

 

But respondent cites no authority for the proposition that, as long as there is evidence in the record to support a disposition order, written findings are not required.  Respondent also argues that the court had warned J.S. that his stay of commitment would be revoked if he made even one minor mistake.  But this court has stated that “[b]ecause the choice of disposition must be driven by rehabilitative needs,” other factors, such as retribution or deterrence of others, do not constitute adequate cause for the content of a disposition.  C.A.W., 579 N.W.2d at 498.

We therefore reverse the order of June 22, 2000, and remand for the district court to make the written findings required by law.

Reversed and remanded.



[1] This provision has been recodified as Minn. Stat. § 260B.198 (2000).