This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. ß 480A.08, subd. 3 (2002).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
In the Matter of the Welfare of D.K.
Reversed and Remanded
Hennepin County District Court
File Nos. 232465, J4-03-063225
Leonardo Castro, Hennepin County Public Defender, Melissa Haley, Assistant Public Defender, 317 South Second Avenue, Suite 200, Minneapolis, MN 55402 (for appellant D.K.)
Mike Hatch, Attorney General, 1800 NCL Tower, 445 Minnesota Street, St. Paul, MN 55101-2134; and
Amy Klobuchar, Hennepin County Attorney, Donna J. Wolfson, Assistant County Attorney, C-2000 Government Center, Minneapolis, MN 55487 (for respondent)
††††††††††† Considered and decided by Kalitowski, Presiding Judge; Wright, Judge; and Forsberg, Judge.*
U N P U B L I S H E D†† O P I N I O N
††††††††††† On appeal from an adjudication of delinquency for recklessly discharging a firearm after he shot his friend with a BB gun, D.K. challenges the district courtís disposition order requiring him to live in a group home.† D.K. argues that the record does not support the district courtís disposition and that the district court did not make the necessary findings for its disposition. †We reverse and remand.†
In delinquency cases, district courts have broad discretion to order dispositions authorized by statute.† In re Welfare of J.B.A., 581 N.W.2d 37, 38 (Minn. App. 1998), review denied (Minn. Aug. 31, 1998).† Absent a clear abuse of that discretion, this court will not disturb the district courtís disposition.† Id.† A delinquency disposition is lawful when it is necessary to rehabilitate the child.† Minn. Stat. ß 260B.198, subd. 1 (2002).†
D.K. contends that the disposition order is deficient because the district court failed to make written findings.† We agree.† A district courtís disposition order must contain written findings of fact to support the disposition ordered and must set forth in writing:† (1) why public safety and the best interests of the child are served by the disposition ordered; and (2) what alternative dispositions were recommended to the court and why such recommendations were not ordered.† Minn. Stat. ß 260B.198, subd. 1(m); Minn. R. Juv. Delinq. P. 15.05, subd. 2(A).† And if the district courtís disposition changes the custody of the child, the court must make written findings of fact that explain:† (1) why public safety and the best interests of the child are not served by preserving the childís present custody; and (2) the suitability of the placement, taking into account the program of the placement facility and the assessment of the childís actual needs.† Minn. R. Juv. Delinq. P. 15.05, subd. 2(A)(3).† In addition, an out-of-home placement must suit the childís actual needs.† Minn. R. Juv. Delinq. P. 15.05, subd. 2(B)(3).†
††††††††††† Written dispositional findings are essential to meaningful appellate review, and failure to make sufficient written findings constitutes reversible error.† In re Welfare of N.T.K., 619 N.W.2d 209, 211-12 (Minn. App. 2000).† Where the district court fails to make sufficient written findings, this court may remand to the district court for the limited purpose of requiring the district court to make findings of fact that satisfy the statutory requirements.† Id. at 212.
††††††††††† Here, the district court explained its reasons for adjudicating D.K. delinquent and for placing him at a group home.† The district court noted that as part of the juvenile-delinquency proceedings, an inpatient treatment center had completed a full psychological evaluation of D.K., diagnosed him with mood disorder and polysubstance abuse, and prescribed medication for the mood disorder.† D.K. had previously been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and other disorders.† The district court found that prior to these proceedings, D.K. had participated in day treatment programs and in-home counseling, but this treatment was not successful; notably, during this time D.K. attempted suicide at least once and continued to engage in self-mutilation.† The district court also found that D.K. needed 24-hour supervision, and while D.K.ís father, a single parent, could provide proper supervision for D.K. when he was at home, he could not supervise D.K. when he worked the nightshift.
††††††††††† Appellant contends that neither 24-hour supervision nor placement in a group home is necessary because D.K.ís mental health is stable and there is no indication that he is or was suicidal at the time of the district courtís decision.† But the record indicates that at the time of the courtís decision, D.K. continued to engage in self-mutilation, including evidence that D.K. cut his arm with a knife from a dinner tray while he was undergoing the psychological evaluation at the inpatient treatment center.† The record also indicates that D.K. has a history of ďpalming,Ē or pretending to take, his prescribed medication.† Because the record shows that D.K.ís mental stability and progress cannot be guaranteed without constant supervision, we reject appellantís argument that the evidence in the record does not support the district courtís disposition order placing D.K. in a group home.†
††††††††††† But notwithstanding the district courtís explanation and the evidence in the record supporting the disposition order, the district courtís failure to make the necessary written findings requires us to reverse and remand.†† See In re Welfare of L.B., 404 N.W.2d 341, 346 (Minn. App. 1987) (stating that omissions of written findings constitutes reversible error even if the record indicates that the district court considered options and had good reasons for its decision).† We are mindful that several months have passed since the district courtís October 2003 disposition order and that the district court and the parties anticipated that D.K.ís placement in the group home would be temporary, with the goal being the return of a rehabilitated D.K. to his home.† Therefore, on remand, the district court may reassess its disposition order in such proceedings as it deems appropriate.† And if the district court determines that placement at the group home is still appropriate, it must make appropriate findings as required by Minn. Stat. ß 260B.198, subd. 1, and Minn. R. Juv. Delinq. P. 15.05.†
††††††††††† Reversed and remanded.
*†Retired judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals, serving by appointment pursuant to Minn. Const. art. VI, ß 10.