Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1996).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
File No. J195071056
William McGee, Hennepin County Public Defender, Melissa Haley, Assistant Public Defender, 317 2nd Avenue South, Suite 200, Minneapolis, MN 55401-0809 (for appellant)
Hubert H. Humphrey III, Attorney General, 1400 NCL Tower, 445 Minnesota Street, St. Paul, MN 55101; and
Michael O. Freeman, Hennepin County Attorney, Linda K. Jenny, Assistant County Attorney, C-2000 Government Center, Minneapolis, MN 55487 (for respondent)
Considered and decided by Kalitowski, Presiding Judge, Short, Judge, and Foley, Judge.[*]
Juvenile appellant C.J.D. challenges the revocation of his stayed commitment to an out-of-state residential treatment facility, claiming the disposition was disproportionate to his delinquency and was therefore unnecessary and unlawful. We disagree and affirm.
"Trial courts have broad discretion to order dispositions authorized by statute in delinquency cases." In re Welfare of M.A.C., 455 N.W.2d 494, 498 (Minn. App. 1990). "Absent a clear abuse of discretion, a trial court's disposition will not be disturbed." Id. Delinquency dispositions will be affirmed "so long as the trial court determination is not arbitrary." In re Welfare of L.K.W., 372 N.W.2d 392, 397 (Minn. App. 1985). Modifications to previous dispositions require a showing that either: (1) the original disposition was insufficient to restore the child to lawful behavior; or (2) the original disposition was inconsistent with the child's actual rehabilitative needs. Minn. R. Juv. P. 15.08, subd. 8. In this case, both conditions were met.
The district court determined probation was insufficient to restore C.J.D. to lawful behavior. Previously the court gave C.J.D. the opportunity to remain in the family home, provided he adhere to its probation orders. The court stated that there would be "no excuses" for noncompliance. C.J.D. subsequently made excuses for not providing his probation officer with samples for urinalysis on multiple occasions. Placement at an out-of-state residential facility, as the consequence for a failure to abide strictly by the terms of probation, was presented to the juvenile at the disposition hearing.
To determine what disposition is necessary to restore a child to lawful behavior, the court must balance the "severity of the child's delinquency, and the severity of the proposed remedy." L.K.W. at 398. C.J.D. argues that the offenses for which he has been adjudicated delinquent do not merit a locked out-of-state placement. The record indicates, however, that he repeatedly failed to comply with probation and has a history of running away from unlocked facilities. The court stated that it "will not entertain an argument based on the degree of an infraction when it was clear any infraction would result in the lifting of the stay."
Juvenile dispositions must be the least restrictive means necessary to restore the offender to law-abiding behavior. Id. Factors to consider are prior violations, the seriousness of the underlying offense, repetition of unlawful conduct, and any violations of probational supervision. Id. We conclude that the district court did not err in determining that lifting the stay is the least restrictive alternative now available. The court had attempted the less restrictive alternative of returning C.J.D. to his family, but after he failed to meet the conditions of probation, the court followed the recommendations of his probation officer and ordered him to the residential facility.
Finally, modification of a delinquency disposition is also justified if the original disposition was inconsistent with the child's actual rehabilitative needs. Minn. R. Juv. P. 15.08, subd. 8. Previously, professionals in the juvenile court system have noted that C.J.D. has had difficulty in accepting responsibility for his actions, and has "failed to internalize" recurrent problems and issues. C.J.D.'s probation officer was concerned that his initial disposition, a return to the community, would be counterproductive because it did not provide appellant with a consequence for his earlier failures. Additionally, evaluations of C.J.D. by professionals have consistently advised a structured, locked facility in which he can learn consequences for his actions. We therefore conclude that the district court did not abuse its discretion in determining that a structured, locked facility provides C.J.D. with the best chance of rehabilitation.
[*] Retired judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals, serving by appointment pursuant to Minn. Const. art. VI, § 10.