This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2006).
IN COURT OF APPEALS
In the Matter of the Welfare of: K.T.
Filed September 11, 2007
Reversed and remanded
Toussaint, Chief Judge
Hennepin County District Court
File No. 27-JV-06-9347
Leonardo Castro, Fourth District Chief Public Defender, Barbara S. Isaacman, Assistant Public Defender, 317 Second Avenue South, Suite 200, Minneapolis, MN 55401 (for appellant K.T.)
Lori Swanson, Attorney General, 1800 Bremer Tower, 445 Minnesota Street, St. Paul, MN 55101-2134; and
Michael O. Freeman, Hennepin County Attorney, Linda M. Freyer, Assistant County Attorney, C-2000 Government Center, 300 South Sixth Street, Minneapolis, MN 55487 (for respondent State of Minnesota)
Considered and decided by Ross, Presiding Judge; Toussaint, Chief Judge; and Parker, Judge.*
U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
TOUSSAINT, Chief Judge
Appellant K.T. was adjudicated
delinquent on charges of second-degree assault and terroristic threats. The district court ordered appellant to
complete the adolescent male treatment program at
D E C I S I O N
The district court has “broad
discretion to order dispositions authorized by statute in delinquency
cases.” In re Welfare of M.A.C., 455 N.W.2d 494, 498 (
To support an out-of-home placement, a district court must make sufficient written findings of fact to support the disposition ordered, specifically setting forth (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 unacceptable; and (5) how the correctional placement meets the child’s needs. In re Welfare of J.S.S., 610 N.W.2d 364, 366-67 (Minn. App. 2000), see Minn. Stat. § 260B.198, subd. 1(m) (2006) (“[a]ny order for a disposition authorized under this section shall contain written findings . . . [setting] forth in writing the following information: (1) why the best interests of the child are served by the disposition ordered; and (2) what alternative dispositions were considered by the court and why such dispositions were not appropriate in the instant case.”).
“The findings are necessary to
facilitate meaningful appellate review, to show that the district court
considered all of the relevant factors, and to enable the parties to understand
the decision.” In re Welfare of R.V., 702 N.W.2d 294, 304 (
In determining out-of-home placement for a child, the
court must take into account the risk to public safety.
interests of a child are usually served by parental custody. In re
Welfare of J.A.J., 545 N.W.2d 412, 426 (
Even if the district court had
incorporated the transcript by reference, this court has previously held that
incorporation of the transcript of a dispositional proceeding does not, by
itself, satisfy the requirement that the district court make written findings
of fact in support of the disposition chosen.
In re Welfare of J.L.Y., 596
N.W.2d 692, 696 (Minn. App. 1999), review
We acknowledge the administrative efficiency of the form and that in many cases the sound reasons for the disposition ordered are on the record, but incorporating the entire transcript into the order does not satisfy the written-findings requirement. Incorporation does not effectuate the purpose of having written findings, which is threefold: (1) to guarantee that the court consider the appropriate factors in reaching its decision; (2) to enable the parties to understand the court's decision; and (3) to facilitate meaningful appellate review.
Accordingly, the district court failed to make sufficient findings that out-of-home placement was in appellant’s best interests.
Each trial court disposition rests in part on a finding that [an out-of-home] placement will serve better than a “regular daytime community service program” in impressing upon the children the seriousness of their conduct, giving the child insight into the causes and nature of [his] behavior, and identifying needs for further intervention.
C.A.W., 579 N.W.2d at 498. The district court order lists St. Cloud Children’s Home and Northwoods as “alternatives considered,” but contains no discussion as to why these alternatives were inadequate. The district court incorporated the probation officer’s pre-dispositional report into its order; however, review of the record reveals no mention of the alternatives considered in the report. At the dispositional hearing, the probation officer testified as to the alternatives that were considered. She noted:
treatment programs, typically like St. Cloud Children’s Home, Northwoods, the
ones I know of, Your Honor, that you’re very well aware of would not, I don’t
believe, accept [appellant], given the nature of this offense, the level of
denial and minimization towards the victim.
. . . [T]he multi-disciplinary members of the Screening Committee . . .
felt that, given the nature of this offense, given some of the family
structure, the fact that [appellant’s mother] has a husband who is fighting in
Iraq, she moved prior – several days prior to this incident – the intention was
the family was going to move to Georgia and reside there, and she moved seven
of her eight children there. She has
chosen to stay in the State of
As stated above, the district court did not reference the transcript into the disposition order. While the record does support the district court’s finding that alternatives were considered, upon remand, the district court should include this information in the statutorily required written findings.
The district court must consider why the child’s present custody is unacceptable to serve as “a reminder of the preference for placing children in their own homes, and it calls for attention to the families of the children.” J.S.S., 610 N.W.2d at 367-68 (quotation omitted). “Correctional placements cannot occur without evidence and findings reflecting consideration of the child’s familial relationships.” C.A.W., 579 N.W.2d at 499.
Appellant’s mother moved herself and appellant’s seven
The testimony from the probation officer indicates that the screening committee and probation officer considered his family situation, but the district court did not incorporate the transcript nor did it make any written findings regarding appellant’s present custody.
An order for an out-of-home disposition must contain
written findings stating the reasons that the placement will be suitable to the
child’s needs. J.S.S., 610 N.W.2d
at 368. These reasons must be specific
to the individualized needs of the particular child. See L.K.W., 372 N.W.2d at 400 (“If a
placement is not suited to actual needs of the child, it cannot serve the
child’s best interests.”). Here, the
transcript contains a very brief statement by the probation officer noting that
“[appellant] will get school [at
Because the district court’s
order does not comport with the statutory requirements of Minn. Stat. § 260B.198,
subd. 1(m), and
Reversed and remanded.
* Retired judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals, serving by appointment pursuant to Minn. Const. art. VI, § 10.