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June 11, 2005

Applying Apprendi to juvenile bind-over

Thanks to a helpful reader, I found this fascinating article from the Dallas Morning News which reports that "State District Judge Manny Alvarez on Friday dismissed a murder indictment against Marco Lopez, 16, saying the court lacked jurisdiction over the case because the teenager was transferred to the adult system without the blessing of a jury." 

I know lawyers have previously claimed that Apprendi might impact judicial fact-finding required for a juvenile transfer to an adult court (where, typically, a much higher maximum sentence is available).  But I have not previously heard of a court actually extending Apprendi to such bindovers.  Indeed, the article states:

In his opposing motion, [Assistant DA] Rogers argued that defense attorneys in other states have unsuccessfully tried to use the same Supreme Court case to influence juvenile transfer cases.  "No other court in the United States has extended Apprendi to this level," Mr. Rogers said.

Interesting stuff, and an issue to follow as this one case is appealed and others are brought with similar claims: "Rogers said he will appeal the ruling [and attorneys involved] in the case said the ruling is likely to spur a flurry of similar motions."

June 11, 2005 at 11:13 PM | Permalink

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Please cc me on any responses to this article/issue as this is an issue I too am pursuing, as the parent of a 14 year old waived to adult court by a judge (not a jury)and then when convicted, sentenced to Life In Prison with a Earliest Possible Parole Date of after having served 30 years!!!!!!
Please cc me at cain_karen@hotmail.com and I thank you in advance.

Posted by: Karen | Jun 12, 2005 12:54:49 AM

I have a family member who committed her crime barely one month after her fourteenth birthday. She was transferred to Adult court in TN., based on the sole discretion of the juvenile court judge. She was convicted as an adult of first degree murder and sentenced to life in prison. The juvenile judge, Judge Robert E. Lee, Jr., resisted repeated efforts by the newspaper "THE TENNESSEAN" to be present in the court room for all hearings. Each time he denied access, the newspaper filed motions to delay the process until higher courts could overrule the judges decisions. Once it became clear that the judge would have to admit the press to all proceedings, he made his decision to transfer the case and thus avoid the scrutiny of the press in his court. According to TN statute, there are five factors to be considered when deciding whether or not to transfer a juvenile to the adult system. Two of these factors in this case clearly supported keeping the case in juvenile court, two factors supported allowing the case to be transferred to adult court. The fifth factor was not fairly considered or applied, at the judges discretion, allowing him to avoid trying the case and to avoid public scrutiny of his actions.

Due to these numerous delays, it was over two years after the offence before the case went to trial. Once convicted at the age of sixteen, this child was sent to an adult state prison. For two years, until she reached the age of eighteen, she was held in segregation away from the adult population. She was confined for twenty-three hours a day, and was neither allowed or provided access to psychiatric treatment or education. Her only consistent contact with any other person was a young woman named Krista Pike, another prisoner held in Segregation awaiting the death penalty for committing a murder. After killing her victim, Ms. Pike took a piece of the victims skull as a souvenier. Surely no child should be exposed to the influence of such a person or treated this way while in the States custody. This was a child in trouble, and I don't believe justice was served. No attempt was made to help this child in any way because the state had no appropriate plan for holding juveniles in adult state prisons.
I pray our Nation will do better. Thank you

Posted by: David Briggs | Jun 30, 2005 12:25:46 AM

Student
If she was 14 and knew the penalty of her actions then she got what she deserves. You seem to want sympathy for her well my question is where was her sympathy for the victim!! In my opinion segregation was to GOOD for her. She committed murder as if she were an adult let her pay the price as if she were one.

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my son was fifteen at the time manny avarez convicted him for 85yrs in prison.Dont you think that was harse .He is still in prison ,continue to educate himself.He has no legal adviser,because he and his family cannot afford.Our family has been torn apart since 1995.i pray to god that some good soul would look into his case to set him free.Thank you anybody can contact me at my email address.Iam not any of those above i am mother crying out for help ,I am Nurses Aide thank you and god bless.

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