Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1996).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
Filed May 26, 1998
File No. J89750452
John M. Stuart, State Public Defender, Charlann E. Winking, Assistant State Public Defender, 2829 University Avenue S.E., #600, Minneapolis, MN 55414 (for appellant)
Hubert H. Humphrey III, Attorney General, 1400 NCL Tower, 445 Minnesota Street, St. Paul, MN 55101; and
Ross Arneson, Blue Earth County Attorney, Mark A. Lindahl, Assistant County Attorney, P.O. Box 3129, Mankato, MN 56002-3129 (for respondent)
Considered and decided by Kalitowski, Presiding Judge, Davies, Judge, and Mulally, Judge.*
*Retired judge of the district court, serving as judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals by appointment pursuant to Minn. Const. art. VI, § 10.
U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
Appellant juvenile T.R.-G.T challenges the district court's order of adult certification. We affirm.
D E C I S I O N
District courts have "considerable discretion" in determining whether a juvenile should be certified for adult prosecution. In re Welfare of K.M., 544 N.W.2d 781, 784 (Minn. App. 1996). This court will not reverse a juvenile certification order unless the court's findings are so clearly erroneous that it abused its discretion. In re Welfare of S.J.G., 547 N.W.2d 456, 459 (Minn. App. 1996), review denied (Minn. Aug. 6, 1996).
District courts may certify juveniles for prosecution in the adult criminal system when the child is alleged to have committed an "offense that would be a felony if committed by an adult." Minn. Stat. § 260.125, subd. 1 (1996). In 1994, the legislature mandated that juvenile proceedings are presumed certified if: (1) the juvenile is at least 16 years old at the time the offense was committed; and (2) either the alleged offense would result in a presumptive prison commitment under the sentencing guidelines or the offense was committed while using a firearm. Minn. Stat. § 260.125, subd. 2a (1996).
The certification presumption applies to appellant because he was 17 years old at the time the alleged acts occurred, and he is charged with violating Minn. Stat. § 609.222, subd. 2 (1996), aiding and abetting second-degree assault, which carries a three-year presumptive prison sentence. Minn. Stat. § 609.11, subd. 5(a) (1996). Additionally, appellant allegedly used a firearm in the charged assault.
In order to rebut the presumption in favor of adult certification, appellant must demonstrate "by clear and convincing evidence that retaining the proceeding in the juvenile court serves public safety." Minn. Stat. § 260.125, subd. 2a. The statute designates the relevant factors the district court must consider to determine if public safety will be served by retaining the matter. Minn. Stat. § 260.125, subd. 2b (1996). Appellant argues that the district court abused its discretion in concluding appellant failed to rebut the presumption in favor of adult certification. We disagree.
When it determined appellant failed to rebut the presumption of certification, the district court made sufficient findings under each statutory factor, properly weighing the seriousness of the alleged offense and appellant's prior record of delinquency. The court also properly considered the other remaining factors required by Minn. Stat. § 260.125, subd. 2b: culpability of the child, the child's programming history, the adequacy of punishment and programming available in the juvenile justice system, and the dispositional options available for the child.
Specifically with regard to the statutory factors, the district court found: (1) because appellant allegedly discharged a firearm several times and may have aimed at the victim's chest, the offense was extremely serious; (2) appellant has been involved with the juvenile system since the age of 12, for charges of fourth-degree assault, fifth-degree assault, criminal damage to property, motor vehicle tampering, theft, and disorderly conduct; (3) appellant had a high degree of culpability in committing the offense because it involved "planning and scheming," and there were no mitigating factors; and (4) appellant has had only minimal treatment and counseling within the juvenile system.
The court combined its consideration of the last two statutory factors: the adequacy of programming available in the juvenile system and the dispositional options available for the child. The district court noted that there are several programs in the juvenile system that could accept appellant under an extended jurisdiction juvenile (EJJ) placement; however, those facilities likely would not be locked. Further, many of the facilities would only provide placement for appellant for approximately one year. The district court, therefore, concluded that although there
would be some programming available to the Juvenile within the juvenile system * * * the options in the juvenile system are minimal and more than likely would not be a secure facility.
In light of the district court's findings concerning the six required factors, we cannot say the court abused its discretion by determining that retention of the case in the juvenile system would not serve public safety.
Appellant also argues the district court erred in disregarding the testimony of several of appellant's witnesses who testified that appellant was an appropriate candidate for EJJ. We disagree. When experts differ in their recommendations, the district court has the discretion to determine their credibility and consider their recommendations accordingly. In re Welfare of M.D.O., 462 N.W.2d 370, 374-75 (Minn. 1990). We conclude there was sufficient evidence in the record to support the district court's exercise of discretion in ordering adult certification of appellant.