This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2004).








In the Matter of the Welfare of M. T. R., Child.




Filed May 10, 2005

Reversed and remanded

Wright, Judge


Wright County District Court

File Nos. J8-03-51277, JX-03-50678



John M. Stuart, State Public Defender, Leslie J. Rosenberg, Assistant State Public Defender, 2221 University Avenue Southeast, Suite 425, Minneapolis, MN  55414 (for appellant)


Mike Hatch, Attorney General, 1800 NCL Tower, 445 Minnesota Street, St. Paul, MN  55101; and


Tom Kelly, Wright County Attorney, Scott M. Sandberg, Assistant County Attorney, Wright County Courthouse, 10 Second Street Northwest, Buffalo, MN  55313 (for respondent)



            Considered and decided by Minge, Presiding Judge; Wright, Judge; and Poritsky, Judge.*

U N P U B L I S H E D  O P I N I O N


            Appellant, a juvenile, challenges the district court’s disposition order committing him to the Commissioner of Corrections for placement at Red Wing Correctional Facility.  Appellant argues that Red Wing Correctional Facility is not the least restrictive facility available and that the district court’s findings are insufficient.  Because the district court’s written findings do not satisfy the requirements of Minn. Stat. § 260B.198, subd. 1(m) (2002), and Minn. R. Juv. P. 15.05, subd. 2(A),[1] we reverse and remand.


In May 2003, appellant M.T.R. was adjudicated delinquent of felony motor vehicle theft.  The district court imposed a disposition of probation for one year.  Five days after his disposition hearing, M.T.R. violated the terms and conditions of his probation by failing to follow parental rules and leaving his house without his parent’s knowledge or permission.  The district court ordered M.T.R. to participate in a 30-day rehabilitation program at East Central Regional Juvenile Center at Lino Lakes

In October 2003, M.T.R. committed another motor vehicle theft, and the district court adjudicated M.T.R. delinquent and placed him on indefinite probation with conditions requiring M.T.R. to complete the 90/60 Chisholm House Program; participate in an Intensive Aftercare Supervision Program; refrain from the use of alcoholic beverages and controlled substances; and submit to random drug testing.  M.T.R. was ordered to follow all rules at school and at home after completing the Chisholm House Program. 

At a probation violation hearing on March 4, 2004, M.T.R. admitted violating the conditions of probation by failing to follow parental rules by leaving home without permission on February 14 and 15, 2004; failing to complete the intensive aftercare program by violating the 7 p.m. curfew; and failing to abstain from the use of alcohol on February 18 and 24, 2004.  The district court reinstated M.T.R.’s probation and imposed additional conditions, including electronic home monitoring for 30 days and in-home family therapy. 

On March 25, 2004, M.T.R. appeared before the district court for failing to comply with the terms and conditions of his probation after allegedly unplugging his electronic home monitor and leaving his home without permission.  The district court ordered legal responsibility for M.T.R.’s placement, care, and supervision to be transferred to Wright County Court Services and detained M.T.R. pending the probation violation hearing.  In support of its detention ruling, the district court found that, if released, M.T.R. likely would not remain in the care or control of his mother.  The district court also determined, “It’s in [M.T.R.]’s best interests that he be placed in secure detention pending the next hearing.  Reasonable efforts were made to prevent the out-of-home placement.” 

            On March 30, while being held in a secure facility, M.T.R. requested that his mother take him home.  M.T.R.’s mother advised the district court that she was unable to control him and asked the district court to deny M.T.R.’s request.  The district court ordered M.T.R. to remain in a secure detention facility pending the next hearing.

At a probation violation hearing on April 6, M.T.R. admitted committing numerous probation violations, including breaking a window with a baseball bat, disabling his electronic-home-monitoring bracelet, and possessing drug paraphernalia.  The district court stayed M.T.R.’s commitment to the Commissioner of Corrections at Red Wing Correctional Facility on the condition that M.T.R. participate in the Isanti Living Skills Program and remain on intensive aftercare probation.  Once again, M.T.R. failed to comply with the terms and conditions of his probation. 

At a probation violation hearing on June 9, M.T.R. admitted fleeing the program on two occasions and stealing a car.  M.T.R. sought placement in a three-month residential treatment program at Thistledew Camp, which was described as an “early intervention program in a minimal security setting.”  The district court rejected M.T.R.’s placement request, finding that “Wright County has considered all appropriate local or regional placements and has exhausted any reasonable potential in-state placements in its geographic region.”  After vacating the stay, the district court committed M.T.R. to the Commissioner of Corrections for placement in Red Wing Correctional Facility.  This appeal followed.


            In a juvenile delinquency case, the district court has broad discretion to order a disposition authorized by statute.  In re Welfare of J.S.S., 610 N.W.2d 364, 366 (Minn. App. 2000).  The district court’s disposition order will not be disturbed on appeal absent a clear abuse of discretion.  In re Welfare of J.A.J., 545 N.W.2d 412, 414 (Minn. App. 1996).

An out-of-home-placement disposition must be supported by written findings that address the following: (1) why public safety is served by the disposition; (2) why the best interests of the child are served by the disposition; (3) alternative dispositions that were proposed and why they were not ordered; (4) why the child’s present placement is unacceptable; and (5) how the correctional placement meets the child’s needs.  Minn. Stat. § 260B.198, subd. 1(m) (2002); Minn. R. Juv. P. 15.05, subd. 2(A); In re Welfare of D.T.P., 685 N.W.2d 709, 712-13 (Minn. App. 2004)

Written findings are required for meaningful appellate review.  In re Welfare of L.K.W., 372 N.W.2d 392, 401 (Minn. App. 1985).  Such findings also are essential to show that the district court considered the applicable standards and to facilitate the parties’ understanding of the decision.  Id. at 400-01.  Failure to make adequate findings constitutes reversible error.  See In re Welfare of N.T.K., 619 N.W.2d 209, 212 (Minn. App. 2000) (reversing and remanding to district court to make adequate written findings);  In re Welfare of M.A.C., 455 N.W.2d 494, 499 (Minn. App. 1990) (concluding that failing to make statutorily required written findings constitutes reversible error);  In re Welfare of M.R.S., 400 N.W.2d 147, 151 (Minn. App. 1987) (concluding that four single-sentence findings with little elaboration added to preprinted form constitute insufficient findings);  L.K.W., 372 N.W.2d at 401 (concluding that findings that do not “comply with the letter or the spirit of the controlling statute and rule” are insufficient).

            The parties agree, and our review confirms, that the district court did not make adequate written findings to support M.T.R.’s placement at Red Wing Correctional Facility.  The district court employed a preprinted disposition form.  Although we have acknowledged the efficiency of using preprinted forms, In re Welfare of J.L.Y., 596 N.W.2d 692, 696 (Minn. App. 1999), particularized findings nevertheless are required to explain the district court’s findings as to the requisite factors set forth in Minn. Stat. § 260B.198, subd. 1(m), and Minn. R. Juv. P. 15.05, subd. 2(A).

The district court added only a few conclusory statements on the preprinted form, stating that public safety and the best interest of the child are served because “placement is necessary to conform behavior,” “placement is suitable to the child’s needs,” and “probation will help monitor the child’s conduct[.]”  Under the section of the preprinted form addressing “alternative recommendations [that] were made but will not be ordered,” the district court added, “Camp Thistledew was recommended by defense but not ordered as it is not appropriate[.]”   

Although the evidence ultimately may support the disposition, the findings lack the completeness required for meaningful appellate review.  The district court’s findings neither explain why M.T.R.’s best interests are served by placement at Red Wing Correctional Facility nor indicate why placement at Thistledew Camp is not appropriate.  The findings also do not address why M.T.R.’s present placement is unacceptable or how placement at Red Wing Correctional Facility meets M.T.R.’s needs.

Because the district court’s findings preclude effective appellate review, we reverse and remand for written findings of fact that comport with Minn. Stat. § 260B.198, subd. 1(m) and Minn. R. Juv. P. 15.05, subd. 2(A). 

Reversed and remanded.

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

[1] Minnesota Rules of Juvenile Procedure were retitled Rules of Delinquency Procedure effective for acts of delinquency committed after September 1, 2003.