Members Present Judge William Herauf, Chair Justice Mary Muehlen Maring Judge Dan Narum Judge David Reich Cory Pedersen, Juvenile Court Director Unit 3, Proxy for Karen Kringlie
Members Absent Judge Doug Mattson Dale Thompson, Referee Karen Kringlie, Juvenile Court Director Unit 2
Staff Present Louie Hentzen, Asst. State Court Administrator Catie Palsgraaf, Research Analyst
Guests Shawn Peterson, Juvenile Court Director Unit 1 Scott Hopwood, Juvenile Court Director Unit 4 Haley Wamstad, Grand Forks County Assistant State’s Attorney
Judge Herauf called the meeting to order at 12:55 pm.
Judge Herauf welcomed guest, Haley Wamstad, to discuss Extended Juvenile Jurisdiction (EJJ),
currently a subject of study by the Judiciary Interim Committee. Judge Herauf participated in
the January 10, 2012 interim committee meeting and prepared a draft of a letter should the
interim committee decide to move forward with EJJ.
Ms. Wamstad, Grand Forks County Assistant State’s Attorney, feels EJJ is an important issue
and wants more input and opinions from the Juvenile Policy Board for moving forward. Ms.
Wamstad discussed a case in Grand Forks that prompted her to pursue EJJ legislation in North
Dakota. The case involved a juvenile who, in adult court, looked at a minimum 20 years in
prison with lifetime registration as a sex offender. Generally, Grand Forks County has been
hesitant to have a juvenile register as sex offender and usually asks for a sexual evaluation
before asking for registration in juvenile court. She said this case was a good argument for
creating a middle ground between adult court and juvenile court.
Justice Maring asked why the case in Grand Forks County was so unusual. Ms. Wamstad
explained that the juvenile was seventeen and a half years old when the felony AA sex offense
was committed. The current transfer statute would require an automatic transfer, if the offense
was charged as a felony AA sex offense. There was difficulty in deciding to charge the offense
as this juvenile had not been involved in juvenile court before and was a good student. Under
the current system there were two risks: 1) if charged with the AA felony, the juvenile would
transfer to adult court and may be over punished; 2) if the juvenile remained in juvenile court,
under punishment was a risk, since the juvenile was unknown to the court and jurisdiction ends
at age 20. She said the current statute requires a crystal ball.
Ms. Wamstad gave an example of a 16 year old juvenile who committed egregious sexual abuse.
This juvenile had no prior juvenile court history and it was felt there was enough time for proper
treatment. The juvenile was placed with Division of Juvenile Services (DJS) and remained there
until the juvenile’s 20th birthday. She said that upon release, the juvenile had not received one
day of sex offender treatment.
Judge Herauf asked how EJJ would fix the example of the 16 year old juvenile who did not
receive sex offender treatment. Ms. Wamstad said EJJ would be appropriate because in cases
where unsure if a juvenile child would be properly treated in juvenile court, the juvenile has one
opportunity to comply. If the juvenile complies, the adult sentence doesn’t come into play. In
the case of this particular juvenile, the juvenile court sentence could have been revoked and adult
system could have kept the juvenile beyond 20 years old.
Louie Hentzen asked, in the case of 17 year old, if the juvenile had both a juvenile and adult
sentence, would he serve at adult prison. Ms. Wamstad said some states have two sentences,
other states have a juvenile court sentence and wait to determine the adult sentence. If the child
is transferred and sentenced as an adult, the child can go to adult prison. Cory Pedersen said that
incarcerated juveniles are normally committed to the Department of Corrections.
Justice Maring said that in the EJJ bill drafted by Jim Ganje, the court, in deciding whether to
approve EJJ, would look at whether the juvenile is amenable to treatment in juvenile court.
Many studies of the impact of automatic transfer of certain types of crimes show there is no
positive effect. Justice Maring asked why Ms. Wamstad is not taking the position that transfer
should be discretionary for some of the auto transfer crimes, since evidence shows there is no
benefit to automatic transfer. There is a need to step back.
Ms. Wamstad said that both bill drafts leave only murder as an automatic transfer and high level
GSI and drug crimes become discretionary. Grand Forks recognizes that the auto transfer is not
ideal for a lot of juveniles. Currently, Grand Forks is keeping many in juveniles in Juvenile
court who could have been transferred. A benefit to EJJ is it alleviates the problem with the auto
transfer statute, which is a prosecuting attorney is expected to have a crystal ball and know
which court system will be best to prosecute the child. The attorney must decide at the time of
charging without a lot of information, especially if the child was not involved with juvenile court
prior to crime. EJJ allows for wait and see.
Judge Herauf said that Justice Maring’s comment is to go back to where the law was when more
transfers were discretionary. He felt that time will be better spent focused on that, rather than
EJJ. Justice Maring commented that in the face of all the statistics and study, the auto transfer
doesn’t work. Another concern is waiting until violation of the disposition and then the juvenile
receives an adult sentence. In the current draft, the court shall automatically send the child to
adult court, even for a Minor in Possession, for example. Any minor violation of a condition
automatically transfers the child to adult court. There is no discretion for the court. Does the
juvenile get credit for time served on the juvenile sentence, before the violation? Justice Maring
saw a lot of problems and questions with EJJ sentencing. Ms. Wamstad responded that the
language of the bill could be changed to address these issues. The current draft mirrors the
revocation statute for adult offenders.
Justice Maring asked why not extend the jurisdiction of Juvenile court beyond 20 years of age.
Ms. Wamstad responded that this was discussed, but two problems were identified. 1) Juvenile
court is not enough for some offenders. Some won’t rehabilitate. Mr. Pedersen pointed out that
this happens in the adult system, as well. 2) When a juvenile is delinquent or unruly and
between the ages of 18 to 20, there are very limited treatment options. Many times, hands are
tied with juveniles in this age range. These juveniles may not qualify for juvenile programs
because they are too old and it is harder to place in adult options because the order is a juvenile
court order. Justice Maring said there are inherent problems with treatment in both adult and
juvenile court systems. Some juveniles and adults will be missed. The longer juveniles are held,
the more mature they become. Juveniles are high risk takers and their brains don’t fully develop
until age 22 to 25.
Mr. Pedersen didn’t see an issue with obtaining treatment for juveniles when they turn 18 years
old. Many times juvenile court officers want older juveniles in the adult community programs.
Mr. Pedersen didn’t see EJJ as a tool for the juvenile court officers. Ms. Wamstad saw EJJ as a
great extra tool to have.
Mr. Pedersen asked what types of other cases EJJ would impact. Ms. Wamstad said that a
broader spectrum of cases might qualify other than the types of cases that are currently
automatically transferred to adult court. For example, if a juvenile commits burglary of a
pharmacy, that offense doesn’t quality for automatic transfer. However, the juvenile is typically
facing significant chemical dependency issues. If the juvenile is 17 years old, will Juvenile court
have enough time for treatment? Mr. Pedersen asked who would be screening to determine
which cases to petition for EJJ? Would it just be high risk offenders? Ms. Wamstad responded
that EJJ allows for wait and see. Mr. Hentzen asked if expanding beyond the automatic transfer
crimes would be at prosecutorial discretion in EJJ. Ms. Wamstad said that the prosecutor files
intent for EJJ and allowing EJJ is at judicial discretion.
Judge Herauf asked about sentencing in adult court and conducting jury trials. He sees a whole
host of issues including public access and juvenile courts not set up for jury trials. Ms. Wamstad
responded that Jim Ganje thought that Juvenile Court referees could likely conduct jury trials.
Judge Herauf said jury trials for juveniles create a whole host of constitutional issues. This
includes public access where the hallmark of Juvenile Court is to remain non-public. Ms.
Wamstad responded that the EJJ bill could specify the offenses so the door would not be open to
any type of offense.
Shawn Peterson commented that all juvenile court staff training is focused on juveniles 18 years
of age and younger. Work with 18 to 20 year olds usually involves finishing programs and
paying any remaining restitution. Juvenile court staff training and duties would need to be
restructured to deal with older EJJ juveniles. Ms. Wamstad said that under EJJ if a juvenile is
placed on adult probation, the juvenile would be handled by adult probation officers. Mr.
Pedersen said that the current EJJ statute allows for orders to remain in effect until 25 years of
age. So, if a juvenile has no problems during juvenile court treatment, the juvenile would remain
on juvenile staff caseload until the end of the order. Justice Maring said that as long as juvenile
court had jurisdiction, the control would be with the juvenile court unless the child commits an
offense and the adult sentence is imposed. If EJJ requires tracking of EJJ juveniles who don’t
reoffend, the current bill would keep kids under juvenile court supervision to the limit of the
order. Juvenile court has been understaffed for years. Ms. Wamstad stated that she thought
juvenile court supervision should end at age 20. If the juvenile reaches age 20 and hasn’t
completed their juvenile court sentence, the adult sentence could be imposed and the offender
sent to adult court.
Judge Narum asked the Juvenile Court Directors if, from their perspective, this is a funding and
training issue, are there any other objections to dealing with up to 25 year olds? Mr. Pedersen
responded that the juvenile justice system is more than juvenile court. There are many other
partners, including the Department of Juvenile Services, who would need to be in on the
discussion. It is possible for juvenile court to handle juveniles up to 25 years old, but this is a
more systemic question than just juvenile court.
Ms. Wamstad closed her comments by stating that while there is no perfect resolution, she feels
strongly that EJJ would make a positive impact on the parties involved.
Judge Herauf closed his comments by stating the Juvenile Policy Board would be happy to take a
look at the bill drafts. He said the committee has concerns about EJJ and one of best ideas is
Justice Maring’s to reduce the number of automatic transfers.
The next meeting of the Judiciary Interim Committee is April 11, 2012. Mr. Hentzen asked that
Ms. Wamstad send any updated drafts of the EJJ bill to himself and Jim Ganje. Judge Herauf
cautioned that the EJJ bill drafted by Jim Ganje has not been approved by the Juvenile Policy
Juvenile Director’s Report Mr. Pedersen reported that the Juvenile Directors are working on the juvenile court annual report
for 2011. The report is will be completed within the next week.
All units have hired or are in the process of hiring new staff members. The Grafton office in
Unit 1 hired a new Juvenile Court Officer III, a new probation officer and is in the process of
hiring a new secretary. Units 2 and 4 experienced the retirement of their Juvenile Court Officer
III’s. The positions were filled with internal candidates and external candidates were hired for
entry level Juvenile Court Officer I positions. The Bismarck office in Unit 3 hired a new
Best Practice Manual Mr. Hentzen reported that a meeting is scheduled next week to review the Best Practice Manual
and identify anything that may need to be considered a policy rather than a recommendation or
practice. Policy recommendations will be brought back to the Juvenile Policy Board to
determine whether to add to the 400 Series of the Policy Manual.
The Best Practice Manual sub-committee is a cross section of employees, supervisors, line staff
and secretaries. The Juvenile Court Directors will serve as the executive committee of the sub-committee.
Courts and Schools Summit NY Mr. Hentzen reported that a national leadership summit on school and justice partnership will be
held in New York City on March 12, 2012. The chief justices and head of education
departments of each state are invited to attend. Lee Ann Barnhardt and Mr. Hentzen met with
principals from around the state a few weeks ago in preparation for the summit. Chief Justice
VandeWalle, Judge Narum, Mr Hentzen and Ms. Barnhardt will attend.
Continued Foster Care cases Mr. Hentzen reported that he was told states attorneys have been contacting DHS and saying
judges aren’t familiar with the Continued Foster Care law. Yellow hard cards have been
distributed to all judicial districts.
Mr. Hentzen discussed whether and when permanency hearings are scheduled under Continued
Foster Care. The yellow hard card states that permanency hearings are optional. Permanency
hearings in deprivation cases are to be held 12 months from the date the child is considered to
have entered foster care. Mr. Hentzen asked if the Juvenile Policy Board wants to consider a
policy for conducting permanency hearings in Continued Foster Care cases. For federal
reimbursement in these cases, the hearings need to be held within 12 months from the date of the
new order. If the child continues in foster care upon reaching 18 years of age, rather than the
child leaving foster care at 18 years of age and requesting to return within 6 months, permanency
language must be contained in the new order for continued foster care.
The next meeting of the Juvenile Policy Board is May 18, 2012 at 1:30pm in Bismarck, ND.