This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

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







In the Matter of the

Welfare of:  S.Y.X.



Filed March 26, 2002

Reversed and remanded
Foley, Judge


Hennepin County District Court

File No. J80153521



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


Amy J. Klobuchar, Hennepin County Attorney, Michael K. Walz, Tom Weist, Assistant County Attorneys, C-2000 Government Center, 300 South Sixth Street, Minneapolis, MN 55487 (for respondent)


Leonardo Castro, Chief Fourth District Public Defender, Peter W. Gorman, Jennifer K. Mrachek, Assistant Public Defenders, 317 2nd Avenue South, Suite 200, Minneapolis, MN 55401 (for appellant)



            Considered and decided by Toussaint, Chief Judge, Shumaker, Judge, and Foley, Judge.


U N P U B L I S H E D   O P I N I O N

FOLEY, Judge

           Appellant S.Y.X. was involved in a gang-related fight on February 6, 2001.  He was subsequently designated an extended-jurisdiction juvenile, tried, and found guilty of felony criminal damage to property for the benefit of a gang. 

           At the June 19, 2001, disposition hearing, the court adjudicated S.Y.X. delinquent based upon the damage-to-property verdict and ordered him committed to the commissioner of corrections for a period of 14 months and one day, the sentence to be stayed until S.Y.X. turned 21. 

           S.Y.X.’s probation officer recommended out-of-home placement at Glen Mills in Pennsylvania.  S.Y.X.’s attorney requested the least restrictive alternative available other than out-of-home placement and, if out-of-home placement was ordered, the attorney recommended placement at a facility located in Minnesota.  The district court requested that the parties submit written recommendations for out-of-home placement.  In July 2001, the court ordered out-of-home placement in Red Wing without making any written findings.  This appeal followed.


            District courts are afforded broad discretion in determining appropriate juvenile delinquency dispositions, and we affirm dispositions that are not “arbitrary.”  In re Welfare of J.A.J., 545 N.W.2d 412, 414 (Minn. App. 1996).  A disposition must be supported by evidence that the placement is the least drastic step necessary to restore law-abiding conduct in the child.  In re Welfare of M.R.S., 400 N.W.2d 147, 151 (Minn. App. 1987).         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 recommended to the court and why such recommendations were not ordered; (4) why the child’s present custody 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).

            Written findings are essential to meaningful appellate review.  In re Welfare of N.T.K., 619 N.W.2d 209, 211 (Minn. App. 2000).  Findings are also required to show that the court considered vital standards and to enable the parties to understand the court’s decision.  In re Welfare of L.K.W., 372 N.W.2d 392, 400-01 (Minn. App. 1985).  Failure to make sufficient findings constitutes reversible error.  N.T.K., 619 N.W.2d at 211-12. 

            On July 11, 2001, the court ordered S.Y.X.’s out-of-home placement in Red Wing, referencing the June 19 hearing.  In the disposition order, the court failed to make findings to support the placement as required by statute and rule, including why the placement (1) served public safety; (2) was in S.Y.X.’s best interests; and (3) was the least restrictive alternative.  See Minn. Stat. § 260B.198, subd. 1(m); see also Minn. R. Juv. P. 15.05, subd. 2(A); M.R.S., 400 N.W.2d at 151 (citing predecessor statute requiring findings for juvenile disposition).  The state agrees that the district court failed to make the statutorily and rule-required written findings and that the disposition should be remanded for adequate findings. 

            Absent written findings, this court cannot engage in effective review of the disposition.  Thus, the disposition is reversed and remanded to the district court to make expedited findings as required by statute and rules to support the disposition. 

            Reversed and remanded.

* Retired judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals, serving by appointment pursuant to Minn. Const. art. VI, § 10.