Tuesday, April 01, 2014

US v. IMM (Juvenile), No. 11-10317 (3-31-14)(Reinhardt with Nelson and M. Smith). 

This juvenile case raises important issues as to juvenile jurisdiction and then custody.  The 9th reversed and remanded because the 12 year old juvenile was not given his Miranda rights, although he was "in custody.

The case arose off an Indian reservation.  The defendant was 12 years old, in special education, and emotionally troubled from an abusive home life.  He alleged sexually assaulted through sodomy a 7 year old.  There was no physical evidence.  The defendant juvenile gave a statement after being picked up, with his mother, on a Saturday morning by an armed officer, 7 months after the incident.  He was driven 40 minute to the police station, and placed in a small room.  His mother gave consent to question him (and she left the room).  He was questioned for an hour.  He was never given his Miranda rights.

The 9th found that there was federal jurisdiction under 18 USC 5032 by asserting that the state did not have jurisdiction over the juvenile (the offense occurred on an Indian reservation); although the government omitted the second page of the required certification that described the federal substantial interest. The first page stated there was no state jurisdiction; the omitted second page described the substantial federal interest.   In an issue of first impression, the 9th considered whether the need to state a substantial federal interest is an independent jurisdictional requirement, or only required in connection with subsection (c), which allows federal jurisdiction in joint jurisdiction cases where there is a substantial federal interest.  The 9th held that the substantial federal interest requirement is only required under the (c) subsection of 5032, where there is joint jurisdiction.  This is based upon legislative history and intent.

The 9th held that the defendant was in custody under the test laid out in US v. Kim, 292 F.3d 969 (9th Cir. 2002): (1) the language used to summon the individual; (2) the confrontation with evidence of guilt; (3) the physical surroundings of the questioning; (4) duration of detention; and (5) degree of pressure applied.  Using this test, the 9th found that under the circumstances, the juvenile was in custody.  He was picked up by the police; he was only 12, and in special education; he was placed alone in a small room, and told to knock if he needed something.  He was questioned for an hour.  Because he was never Mirandized, his statement must be precluded.

The 9th also held that the court did not err in allowing the testimony of a 7 year old child.  The 9th also found there was sufficient evidence to have supported the guilty determination.


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