This opinion will be unpublished and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: D.J.T.

Filed February 10, 1998

Reversed and remanded.

Lansing, Judge

Hennepin County District Court

File No. J99665077

William E. McGee, Hennepin County Public Defender, Warren R. Sagstuen, Assistant Public Defender, 317 Second Avenue South, Suite 200, Minneapolis, MN 55401-2700 (for appellant D.J.T.)

Hubert H. Humphrey III, Attorney General, 1400 NCL Tower, 445 Minnesota Street, St. Paul, MN 55101 (for respondent county)

Michael O. Freeman, Hennepin County Attorney, Paul R. Scoggin, Assistant County Attorney, A-2000 Government Center, Minneapolis, MN 55487 (for respondent county)

Considered and decided by Lansing, Presiding Judge, Crippen, Judge, and Peterson, Judge.



This appeal challenges the district court's failure to make written findings in support of a juvenile's adjudication as delinquent for one count of reckless driving and in support of the disposition, which included out-of-home placement. We reverse and remand.


The district court found D.J.T. guilty of reckless driving under Minn. Stat. § 169.13, subd. 1 (1996). The incident involved injury to another juvenile who was caught hanging from a car window when D.J.T. suddenly accelerated from a parked position and drove down a residential street at a speed between 30 and 45 miles an hour. D.J.T. told the investigating officer he was unaware that the other juvenile was hanging from the car.

At the disposition hearing, the investigating probation officer recommended out-of-home placement. D.J.T.'s attorney argued for a less serious disposition, emphasizing D.J.T.'s progress at home, at work, and at school. The court followed the probation officer's recommendations and adjudicated D.J.T. delinquent, placed him on probation, and committed him to the Hennepin County Home School Beta program for six weeks. D.J.T. appeals based on the court's failure to provide written findings as required under Minn. § 260.185, subd. 1 (Supp. 1997).


The district court has broad discretion in choosing the appropriate disposition in a juvenile delinquency proceeding. See Minn. Stat § 260.185 (Supp. 1997); In re Welfare of L.K.W., 372 N.W.2d 392, 397 (Minn. App. 1985). On review, we will affirm a district court's delinquency disposition so long as it is not arbitrary. Id. We will not reverse a district court's disposition order absent a clear abuse of discretion. In re Welfare of D.S.F. 416 N.W.2d 772, 775 (Minn. App. 1987), review denied (Minn. Feb. 17, 1988).

Although a sufficiency determination may rely on evidence found anywhere in the record, In re Welfare of L.B., 404 N.W.2d 341, 345-46 (Minn. App. 1987), the district court must provide written findings supporting its disposition. Minn. Stat. § 260.185, subd. 1. These findings must explain (1) why the best interests of the child are served by the disposition and (2) what alternative dispositions were considered by the court and why such dispositions were not appropriate in the instant case. Id. A district court's failure to make statutorily required findings constitutes reversible error. L.K.W., 372 N.W.2d at 400-01; see also In re Welfare of M.A.C., 455 N.W.2d 494, 499 (Minn. App. 1990). The Supreme Court strengthened this requirement on August 1, 1996, by adopting Minn. R. Juv. P. 15.05 and Minn. R. Juv. P. 13.09. Rule 15.05 incorporates and elaborates upon the requirements of Minn. Stat. § 260.185, subd. 1, while rule 13.09 requires trial courts to make written findings within seven days of the conclusion of the trial. Minn. R. Juv. P. 15.05, 13.09.

On appeal, both D.J.T. and the state agree the district court failed to make the required written findings under Minn. Stat. 260.185, subd. 1. The state contends the district court acted within its discretion to adjudicate D.J.T. delinquent and compel a short-term program at the County Home School, but requests this matter be remanded to the district court to allow the court to make findings on the court's decision to treat the reckless driving as a delinquency rather than a traffic offense and on the factors considered in arriving at the disposition. D.J.T. argues that because the district court judge "simply recited the statutory language," without making findings or providing supporting reasons, the delinquency adjudication should be reversed.

After reviewing the record and the disposition order, we agree that the findings are legally inadequate. The district court's order did not provide findings on why the reckless driving should be treated as a delinquency rather than a juvenile traffic offense and why the court chose out-of-home placement. The court's order includes only the following findings of fact:

A Restitution Report has not been fully completed as of this date. Attorney for child made a motion that county home school commitment be stayed for 30 days pending appeal. The motion was denied. Commitment to the County Home School is in the best interests of the child and is the least restrictive alternative to return the child to law abiding behavior.

Juvenile was found to be delinquent.

This order and its attached standard, one-page commitment order to the Hennepin County Home School fail to meet the requirements of Minn. Stat. § 260.185, subd. 1. See In re Welfare of J.A.J., 545 N.W.2d 412, 415 (Minn. App. 1996) ("The bare statement that the best interests of a child require the disposition is insufficient."); M.A.C., 455 N.W.2d at 499 (trial court's failure to explain type of treatment or how treatment would solve juvenile's problems constitutes reversible error); In re Welfare of M.R.S., 400 N.W.2d 147, 151 (Minn. App. 1987) (standard form supplemented by a few additional sentences falls "far short of the statutory requirement"); L.K.W., 372 N.W.2d at 401 (disposition order with one finding on juvenile's earlier placement and one finding on her disobedience does not comply with "the letter or spirit of the controlling statute and rule" and constitutes independent basis for reversal).

Although the district court made more detailed and thoughtful findings on the record at the trial and the dispositional hearing, these statements cannot take the place of the required written findings. We reverse and remand to allow the district court to comply with Minn. Stat. § 260.185, subd. 1.

Reversed and remanded.