This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1996).




In the Matter of the Welfare of: M.L., a/k/a/ D.T.

Filed December 31, 1996


Short, Judge

Hennepin County District Court

File No. 175602

William R. Kennedy, Hennepin County Public Defender, Renee J. Bergeron, Assistant Public Defender, 317 Second Avenue South, Suite 200, Minneapolis, MN 55401-2700 (for appellant M.L.)

Hubert H. Humphrey, III, Attorney General, 102 State Capitol, St. Paul, MN 55155 (for respondent State of Minnesota)

Michael O. Freeman, Hennepin County Attorney, Donna J. Wolfson, Assistant County Attorney, C-2000 Government Center, Minneapolis, MN 55487 (for respondent State of Minnesota)

Considered and decided by Short, Presiding Judge, Randall, Judge, and Davies, Judge.


SHORT, Judge

Pursuant to Minn. Stat. § 260.125, subd. 2(6)(i) (1996), the juvenile court certified M.L. for prosecution as an adult on charges of second-degree assault and third-degree aggravated robbery. On appeal from the certification order, M.L. argues: (1) he overcame the statutory presumption of certification by presenting clear and convincing evidence that retention of the proceeding in juvenile court would serve public safety; and (2) the juvenile court's findings were legally insufficient to support certification. We affirm.



A presumption of certification exists when a sixteen- or seventeen-year-old uses a firearm in the commission of a felony offense or commits an offense with a presumptive executed sentence under the sentencing guidelines. Minn. Stat. § 260.125, subd. 2a (1996). It is undisputed M.L. was age sixteen at the time of the 1995 offenses, both of which allegedly involved the use of a gun. See In re Welfare of S.W.N., 541 N.W.2d 14, 16 (Minn. App. 1995), review denied (Minn. Feb. 9, 1996) (noting charges against juvenile are presumed to be true for certification determinations). Therefore, the presumption of certification applies.

In a presumptive case, the juvenile court may order certification if the child fails to demonstrate "by clear and convincing evidence * * * that retaining the proceeding in the juvenile court serves public safety." Minn. Stat. § 260.125, subd. 2(6)(i) (1996). Thus, the current statute places the ultimate burden of proof on the juvenile who is presumptively certified. Minn. R. Juv. P. 32.04, subd. 4(E); In re Welfare of K.A.P., 550 N.W.2d 9, 12 (Minn. App. 1996), review denied (Minn. Aug. 20, 1996). We will not reverse a juvenile certification order unless the court's findings are so clearly erroneous as to constitute an abuse of discretion. In re Welfare of I.Q.S., 309 Minn. 78, 86-87, 244 N.W.2d 30, 38 (Minn. 1976); In re Welfare of S.J.G., 547 N.W.2d 456, 459 (Minn. App. 1996), review denied (Minn. Aug. 6, 1996).

In determining whether certification will serve public safety, the juvenile court must consider: (1) the seriousness of the alleged offense, including the existence of aggravating factors, the use of a firearm, and the impact on any victim; (2) the culpability of the child in committing the alleged offense, including the child's participation in planning and executing the crime and the existence of mitigating factors; (3) the child's prior record of delinquency; (4) the child's history in programming, including the child's past willingness to participate meaningfully in available programming; (5) the adequacy of punishment or programming available in the juvenile justice system; and (6) the dispositional options available for the child. Minn. Stat. § 260.125, subd. 2b (1996). The juvenile court must afford greater weight to the seriousness of the alleged offense and the child's prior record of delinquency than to the other factors. Id.

M.L. argues he proved by clear and convincing evidence that retaining him within the juvenile system would serve public safety. However, the record demonstrates M.L.: (1) allegedly pistol-whipped an adult friend of the family and robbed a woman and her grandchild at gunpoint during daylight hours; (2) was concededly an active participant in each offense; (3) has a record of delinquency, including the felony possession of a short-barrelled shotgun and a misdemeanor adjudication for giving false information to a police officer; (4) was well-behaved in past programming, but did not participate meaningfully; and (5) is crime-sophisticated and unmotivated to change his behavior. In addition, the state's expert testified that no available juvenile programming would be adequate to treat M.L. in a manner consistent with public safety. See In re Welfare of K.M., 544 N.W.2d 781, 785 (Minn. App. 1996) (deferring to juvenile court's credibility judgment where expert witnesses gave conflicting testimony regarding adequacy of treatment options). We conclude this evidence supports the court's conclusion that M.L. failed to rebut the statutory presumption of certification.


M.L. also argues the juvenile court's certification order cannot stand because it does not expressly delineate and analyze the six factors relevant to a public safety determination under Minn. Stat. § 260.125, subd. 2b. We recognize that without detailed findings of fact regarding a juvenile court's considerations in granting certification, this court is afforded no opportunity for meaningful review. See Kent v. United States, 383 U.S. 541, 561, 86 S. Ct. 1045, 1057 (1966) (requiring juvenile courts accompany certification orders with statement of reasons for certifying child); see also I.Q.S., 309 Minn. at 86, 244 N.W.2d at 38 (noting complexity of certification order review is compounded by inadequacy of juvenile court findings).

However, the Minnesota Supreme Court has promulgated standards for certification orders, requiring they state: (1) that an adult court prosecution is to occur on the charges; (2) that probable cause exists; (3) that the child should be transferred to an adult detention facility and brought before an appropriate court without delay; and (4) findings of fact as to the juvenile's birth date, date of offense, and the court's reasons for upholding the presumption of certification. Minn. R. Juv. P. 32.06, subd. 1(A). The Minnesota courts have not reached beyond these requisites to mandate that orders expressly address the appropriate public safety factors. See I.Q.S., 309 Minn. at 86, 244 N.W.2d at 38 (stating certification orders need not meet formal or conventional findings-of-fact requirements); see, e.g., In re Welfare of J.L.B., 435 N.W.2d 595, 599 (Minn. App. 1989) (noting although juvenile court did not specifically apply each factor, findings and memorandum indicated reference was based on proper considerations), review denied (Minn. Mar. 17, 1989).

A careful review of the juvenile court's extensive findings demonstrates the court considered all the appropriate factors in determining M.L. failed to rebut the presumption of certification. Under these circumstances, we cannot say the certification order failed as a matter of law.