This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2004).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
Filed March 15, 2005
Robert H. Schumacher, Judge
Mike Hatch, Attorney General, 1800 NCL Tower, 445 Minnesota Street, St. Paul, MN 55101-2134; and
Susan Gaertner, Ramsey County Attorney, Kathryn A. Santelmann, Assistant County Attorney, 50 West Kellogg Boulevard, Suite 315, St. Paul, MN 55102 (for respondent state)
U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
ROBERT H. SCHUMACHER, Judge
Appellant L.J.H. challenges the district court's order revoking his probation and ordering out-of-home delinquency disposition. We affirm.
In July 2003, the state charged L.J.H. – then age 11 – with using force to obstruct the legal process in violation of Minn. Stat. § 609.50, subds. 1(2), 2(2) (2002). According to the arresting officer's report, L.J.H. physically intervened as the officer arrested his then 15-year-old cousin; the officer reported that as she then attempted to restrain and arrest L.J.H., he fought with her and threatened to "stick her." When L.J.H.'s mother, who was also present, physically interfered with his arrest by striking the officer, she was also arrested.
L.J.H. pleaded guilty to an amended charge of misdemeanor obstruction of legal process. Prior to the disposition hearing, the state submitted a report indicating that L.J.H. had previously been placed on probation (until August 2002) following a February 2002 arrest for felony terroristic threats. In that incident, L.J.H. threatened to kill his mother with a steak knife. The report also reflected a March 2000 arrest for assaulting a convenience-store manager who caught L.J.H. stealing gum and a June 2001 arrest for stealing merchandise from Sears. The report stated that L.J.H.'s "family is dysfunctional" and "do[es] not like police officer[s]." L.J.H. told the officer preparing the report that he had joined a gang a year earlier. The report recommended that L.J.H. complete a 7- to 11-day program at the juvenile detention center and that he be placed on probation subject to various conditions.
The district court adjudicated L.J.H. delinquent and sentenced him to the juvenile detention center as recommended. The court placed L.J.H. on probation subject to various conditions, including that he attend school regularly, remain law abiding, complete all behavior-improvement programs required by his probation officer, and follow rules established by his mother. In October 2003, L.J.H. was arrested and charged with stealing merchandise from a St. Paul department store. The charge was dismissed.
In early December 2003, L.J.H.'s probation officer filed a probation-violation petition, alleging that L.J.H. was not regularly attending school or earning school credits; admitted he was using marijuana and staying out at night; was not remaining law-abiding; and was involved in disruptive and aggressive behavior. L.J.H. admitted to an amended petition that did not include the allegations of drug use or failure to remain law-abiding. The district court ordered L.J.H. placed at the juvenile detention center for between two and three weeks.
In March 2004, L.J.H.'s probation officer filed another probation-violation report, this time alleging L.J.H. had threatened staff at his school and threatened to blow up the school building, threatened his probation officer's life, and otherwise failed to comply with the terms of probation. The district court made an initial determination that L.J.H. had violated the terms of his probation and ordered him held in the juvenile detention center pending a disposition hearing. At an April hearing, the district court ordered that L.J.H. undergo a 30-day custodial psychological evaluation.
At the May 2004 disposition hearing, a probation-department officer testified that based on the psychological evaluation and its own assessment of L.J.H.'s conduct since his arrest, the department recommended a six- to nine-month placement in a residential-treatment group home in St. Paul. L.J.H. objected to out-of-home placement on the grounds that the probation department had not discussed home placement with L.J.H.'s mother or done an in-home assessment. The district court ordered a six-to-nine month placement in a residential-treatment program in St. Paul. The court found that placement was justified by L.J.H.'s repeated failure to comply with the terms of his probation while living at home and that reasonable efforts to avoid placement had failed and alternative programs had been considered. The court also ordered that L.J.H.'s case be reviewed in six months.
In July, L.J.H. filed a notice of appeal with this court challenging the May 2004 order revoking his probation and imposing disposition by placing him in the group home.
L.J.H. argues the district court erred in ordering disposition and out-of-home placement. District courts are afforded broad discretion in determining appropriate 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). Absent a clear abuse of discretion, a district court's disposition will not be disturbed. Id.
The Minnesota Rules of Juvenile Delinquency Procedure provide that if a district court considering a probation violation finds "by clear and convincing evidence" that the child has violated the terms of the provisional dispositional order, the court may adjudicate the child delinquent and proceed with a disposition authorized by statute. Minn. R. Juv. Delinq. P. 15.07, subd. 4(D). The court is required to make written findings of fact to support the disposition ordered. Minn. Stat. § 260B.198, subd. 1(m) (2002). A court ordering out-of-home placement must 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 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. Id.; In re Welfare of C.A.W., 579 N.W.2d 494, 497-98 (Minn. App. 1998).
Here, the district court made written findings on each of the statutory criteria, making special mention of L.J.H.'s repeated probation violations despite two separate stays at the juvenile detention center, anger-management and other counseling, and noting specifically that L.J.H.'s best interests were not being served by his remaining in the home because his mother was demonstrably unable to control his behavior. Although L.J.H. argues the placement was not the least-restrictive alternative, the court considered and rejected various alternatives on the record, concluding that L.J.H. had exhausted less-restrictive treatment options.
The court did not abuse its discretion in finding that L.J.H. violated probation by failing to comply with the conditions of his provisional disposition. We affirm the revocation of the original dispositional order and the out-of-home placement.