This Brief of Amici Curiae, in support of the appellant, Matthew Aalim, argues that Ohio's mandatory bindover laws should be eliminated. Ohio’s mandatory bindover provision requires youth who are 16 and 17 years old who have been charged with specific crimes to be transferred to adult court. The amici brief specific argues that: (1) mandatory transfer of youth to adult court does not align with the original goal it was designed to address or the fundamental goals of the Ohio's juvenile court system; (2) the legislature’s attempt to reduce the number of mandatory bindovers through the implementation of Serious Youthful Offender and reverse waiver laws have proven to be unsuccessful; and (3) there is a broad body of support for the elimination of the mandatory bindover law from national and Ohio stakeholders including juvenile court stakeholders, county organizations, and national polls. Given the substantial evidence pointing to the harmful nature of mandatory bindover and the wide spread support for allowing juvenile court judges to decide whether a youth should be boundover on a case-by-case basis, the amici curiae request that the Supreme Court of Ohio recognize the mandatory bindover law as unconstitutional.
The majority opinion of the United State District Court of New Mexico allows for law enforcement officers to arrest schoolchildren for behavior that purportedly disrupts the classroom, even if that behavior is typical of children such as burping, laughing, or leaning into the classroom from the hallway. Slip Op. at 33. This Brief of Amici Curiae, submitted in support of the appellant, A.M., has three arguments: (1) criminalizing ordinary schoolchildren’s behavior contrasts with the school’s responsibility to help prepare students for citizenship in our democracy, (2) allowing school-based arrests for classroom misconduct criminalizes normal childish behavior with possible harmful results in regards to the child’s education, health, and life chances, and (3) endorsing law enforcement with near unlimited discretion to arrest children results in harms children who are most at risk. The amici request a rehearing of this cases by the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, en banc.
The Third Circuit Court of Appeals concluded that under the Fourth Amendment strip searches of children should be governed by the same standard for adults set forth in Florence v. Board of Chosen Freeholders of Cty. of Burlington, 132 S. Ct. 1510 (2012), which in effect allows for a blanket strip-search policy in youth detention facilities. CLC joined J.B. v. James B. Fassnacht as amici curiae in support of the petitioner, J.B., a minor child. Amici urged the court to grant S.B.’s petition for a writ of certiorari, which challenged the widespread practice of blanket strip-searches of youth entering juvenile detention centers across the nation on the basis that the practice is uniquely harmful to children. Children and adolescents, who are still in the developmental stage, are significantly more likely than their adult counterparts to experience severe psychological trauma when subjected to strip searches. Given the practice's significant psychological impact, the amici argued that the balancing test for reasonableness under the Fourth Amendment must be tailored specifically to children when considering the use of strip searches at juvenile detention centers. Furthermore, the amici concluded that through the already existing intake process officers can reasonably implement an individualized suspicion standard. Thus, the amici contended that the Court should grant J.B.’s petition and reverse the Third Circuit Court’s decision.
In Miller v. Alabama, the Supreme Court of the United States held that mandatory sentences of life without the possibility of parole are unconstitutional for juvenile offenders, even those convicted of homicide offenses. The Court extended the rulings from Roper v. Simmons and Graham v. Florida that children are less culpable than adults for their actions. In 1963, Mr. Montgomery shot and killed a police officer in East Baton Rouge, Louisiana. After trial, Mr. Montgomery received a mandatory life without parole sentence and spent over fifty years incarcerated in the Louisiana Department of Corrections. As of 2016, he was sixty-nine years old and had missed the societal shift in Louisiana and the United States.
This amicus curiae asked the Court to retroactively apply the Miller decision to the case of Mr. Henry Montgomery. First, the amicus curiae argued that Miller constituted a conversion in jurisprudence for the punishment of children because previous thinking portrayed children that committed serious crimes as hopeless. Second, as a matter of equity, if the Court were to prevent lower courts from revisiting those children sentenced to life without parole the Miller decision would resemble nothing more than a half-truth. In short, a landmark case like Miller must be a turning point in criminal procedure. Therefore, Miller cannot be subjected to bars on retroactivity. Teague v. Lanes, 489 U.S. 288, 311 (1989).
This was a civil rights case filed on behalf of J.H. and 8 other youth housed at the Multi-County Juvenile Detention Center in Lancaster, Ohio. The complaint alleged that the defendants violated the 8th and 14th Amendment rights of the youth by subjecting them to punitive and harmful practices including the excessive use of isolation and use of a restraint chair, and that such isolation was done in cells with extremely cold temperatures, and without proper clothing and blankets. The case settled by private settlement agreement in November of 2015, and was dismissed by the federal court in Columbus at that time.
A deputy sheriff shackled two elementary school children who have disabilities, causing them pain and trauma, according to a federal lawsuit filed by the Children’s Law Center, Dinsmore & Shohl,and the American Civil Liberties Union.
The children, an 8-year-old boy and a 9 year-old girl, were so small that the school resource officer, Kenton County Deputy Sheriff Kevin Sumner in Covington, Kentucky, locked the handcuffs around the children’s biceps and forced their hands behind their backs, the lawsuit charges. A disturbing video LINK shows the boy, S.R., being shackled and crying out in pain. S.R. has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and a history of trauma. The girl, L.G, was twice handcuffed behind her back by her biceps, also causing her pain. L.G. has ADHD and other special needs. Both children were being punished for behavior related to their disabilities. Neither was arrested nor charged with any criminal conduct.
The lawsuit seeks an order requiring a change in policies by the Kenton County Sheriff’s Office, and additional training for school resource officers in dealing with young children and children with special needs. It also seeks an unspecified amount of monetary damages against the School Resource Officer.
On October 2, 2015 the United States Department of Justice filed a Statement of Interest in the matter of S.R. v. Kenton County, et al, noting an interest in assisting the federal Court with the legal standards to be used in evaluating claims against school resource officers relative to use of force and the ADA. “This litigation implicates the rights of children in schools to be free from unconstitutional police seizures, the rights of children with disabilities to be free from disability-based discrimination, and the rights of children to be free from civil rights violations that lead to the cycle of harsh school discipline and law enforcement involvement known as the “school-to-prison pipeline.””
In an opinion issued on December 28, 2015, the District Court Judge presiding over S.R. et. al. v. Kenton County Sheriff et. al, issued an opinion denying the Defendant SRO and Sheriff’s Office Motion to Dismiss the child-Plaintiffs’ cases—permitting the case to proceed in federal court. The civil rights lawsuit was filed in August 2015 by the Children’s Law Center, Dinsmore & Shohl, and the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of two elementary school children with disabilities who were shackled by a school resource officer.
Attorneys for the Children’s Law Center filed a federal civil rights case on behalf of youth in Hamilton County, Ohio, who are arrested and detained without regard for basic due process rights. The lawsuit, filed in the Southern District of Ohio in Cincinnati on November 24th, 2014 alleges that juvenile court judge John Williams, in his administrative capacity, perpetuates policies and practices which fail to require probable cause before warrants are executed, or at detention hearings. The result, the complaint alleges, creates harm to youth who are arrested and incarcerated, disrupting their school, employment and family life unnecessarily, and violates their rights under the United States Constitution. More than 6000 youth were arrested and processed through the detention center in Hamilton County last year; of this number, African American youth were almost ten times more likely to experience arrest, and more than twice as likely to be detained. Also named in the complaint is Dwayne Bowman, director of the Hamilton County Juvenile Detention Center, and Hamilton County. The case seeks a preliminary injunction to force officials to comply with constitutional requirements in issuing warrants and in making probable cause determinations for youth once detained.
Hamilton County Juvenile Court officials agreed to make substantive changes to their policies and practices to ensure an adequate finding of probable cause to arrest before sending a youth to detention.
The policy changes were part of a settlement of a lawsuit the Children’s Law Center brought against Hamilton County officials and Judge John Williams. U.S. District Judge Susan Dlott agreed to dismiss the lawsuit at the request of both parties.
The federal civil rights case, filed in 2014 by attorneys from the Children’s Law Center (CLC) and attorney Jennifer Kinsley, charged that youth were routinely arrested and detained without sufficient findings of probable cause in violation of their due process rights. The parties agreed to dismiss this case after court officials put into place several Juvenile Court policies and practices related to processing complaints, issuing arrest warrants, making probable cause determinations and conducting detention hearings.
The new policies the Hamilton County Juvenile Court officials have adopted include several measures that will ensure protections for the youths in the arrest and intake process. These include:
- Updated detention center policies and procedures related to complaint and warrant processing.
- Revised training protocols and curriculum for intake clerks on the issuance of warrants, filing of complaints and probable cause determinations.
- Revised positions descriptions and expectations for intake clerks and the deputy chief clerk, and increased salaries to reflect the need for the discretion, judgment and decision-making skills required.
- Creation of a duty magistrate rotation for on-call consultation 24 hours a day.
- Establishment of a process to assign an assistant prosecutor at all detention hearings.
- Collaboration and training with local police departments regarding expectations of the Youth Center and court as to the acceptance and processing of complaints and warrants.
The court also proposed a local amendment to the Rules of Practice for the Hamilton County Juvenile Court to reflect the changes required for warrants, intakes, and detention hearings.
CLC joined In Re: D.M. as amici curiae in support of the appellant, a minor child, D.M. The State of Ohio originally filed an appeal in D.M.’s case after the trial court dismissed the case on the grounds that the state failed to comply with a discovery order. The state refused to provide copies of statements by victims or other witnesses to the alleged crime, which were contained in reports prepared per the normal police routine. The First District Court of Appeals held that the state was only required to provide discovery to a juvenile upon request only as it pertains to Brady materials in its possession or is evidence that the state intends to use at the probable-cause hearing. D.M. argues on appeal the Ohio Supreme Court that a juvenile is entitled to full discovery prior to a probable cause hearing held pursuant to O.R.C. 2152.12, the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution, the Ohio Constitution, Article I, Section 16, and Juvenile Rule 24.
Originally filed in 2004 on behalf of girls at the Scioto Juvenile Correctional Facility, this federal class action civil rights case alleging widespread unconstitutional conditions was expanded in 2007 to include all facilities operated by or under contract with the Ohio Department of Youth Services.The suit alleged system-wide failure regarding conditions of confinement that endangered youth’s health, safety, and well-being and denied them of due process. State and youth attorneys worked collectively to create a comprehensive settlement that was approved by the court in May 2008. The goal is to have a system more equipped to provide youth with treatment and education needs while also promoting public safety. The settlement requires that DYS provide youth individual care, treatment, and rehabilitative services in the least restrictive setting consistent with youth’s needs, documented security concerns and generally accepted professional standards of care. It also includes a long term goal of closing large institutional facilities and creating a system of smaller community based rehabilitative programs. The case was terminated in December of 2015 when the remaining issues regarding mental health and excessive use of isolation reached compliance.
CLC attorneys filed an administrative complaint with the Ohio Department of Education (ODE), asserting that youth incarcerated in the Franklin County Jail are not receiving the special education services they are entitled to under federal law. The complaint, filed April 3rd, 2012 on behalf of two individual students, alleges that the Columbus City School District and one of its charter schools, the Focus Learning Academy, violated multiple provisions of the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Improvement Act of 2004 (IDEIA), a federal law which requires school districts to provide special education to students with disabilities located within the district. Although the complaint was filed on behalf of two students, it is applicable to similarly situated students currently detained at the Franklin County Jail.
Youth with disabilities are disproportionately represented in the criminal justice system. Even if a child with a disability is not in school, the school district of residence is responsible for ensuring that the child receives appropriate special education services. Youth who are eligible to be sent to adult court are generally taken from juvenile facilities and placed into adult jails or correction facilities to await the disposition of the case and any resulting sentence. Thus, the school district’s responsibility extends to youth placed in jails located within the district.
ODE did not find individuals violations on behalf of the two names students, but did find systemic violations in the operation of educational services generally in the Franklin County Detention Center on behalf of students eligible for services under IDEA requiring corrective action plans.
Columbus City Schools Complaint Finding Letter July 2, 2012
Columbus City Schools Complaint Finding Letter July 3, 2012
Columbus City Schools Complaint Finding Letter July 24, 2012
This federal class action civil rights action was filed on behalf of all youth incarcerated in state juvenile treatment facilities, alleging violations of the first and fourteenth amendments to the U.S. Constitution for failure to provide access to the courts through the assistance of lawyers. The settlement agreement, reached in 1995, ultimately created the Post-Disposition Unit within the Kentucky Department of Public Advocacy, and resulted in several attorneys and support staff delegated to the task of providing legal assistance to youth on fact, durations and conditions of confinement.
CLC attorneys recently filed an administrative complaint with the Ohio Department of Education (ODE), asserting that youth incarcerated in the Franklin County Jail are not receiving the special education services they are entitled to under federal law. The complaint, filed April 3rd on behalf of two individual students, alleges that the Columbus City School District and one of its charter schools, the Focus Learning Academy, violated multiple provisions of the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Improvement Act of 2004 (IDEIA), a federal law which requires school districts to provide special education to students with disabilities located within the district. Although the complaint was filed on behalf of two students, it is applicable to similarly situated students currently detained at the Franklin County Jail. In addition, 94 school districts in Ohio serve as the district of residence for at least one county adult jail facility. The majority of responding districts reported to CLC staff they provide no special education to students in adult jails.
Youth with disabilities are disproportionately represented in the criminal justice system. Even if a child with a disability is not in school, the school district of residence is responsible for ensuring that the child receives appropriate special education services. Youth who are eligible to be sent to adult court are generally taken from juvenile facilities and placed into adult jails or correction facilities to await the disposition of the case and any resulting sentence. Thus, the school district’s responsibility extends to youth placed in jails located within the district. The ODE is currently investigating the complaint. A Letter of Findings will be issued by July 27, 2012.
This class action civil rights case was brought on behalf of all incarcerated youth in the custody of the Department of Youth Services, challenging the failure of the state to provide access to the courts through attorneys that can assist them in challenging fact, duration and conditions of confinement. The case settled in March of 2007 with a Stipulation of Settlement that has created a legal assistance program for youth in the nine DYS facilities.
This class action civil rights case challenges the policies and practices of the Ohio Department of Youth Services Release Authority as arbitrary and unreasonable, and lacking in adequate due process protections. J.J. was transferred on 12/23/08 to the docket of Judge Algenon Marbley. Extensive negotiations for revamping the Release Authority have been underway since May and should be incorporated into the remedy in S.H. v. Stickrath.
Legal staff with the Children’s Law Center negotiated an agreement with the Fayette County Public School System to address disparity in discipline practices which disproportionally impact youth of color and students with disabilities in the school system. The commitment by the Fayette County Public Schools is a multi-year agreement. Components of the agreement include a detailed collection and review of data tracking discipline practices in the school including court charges against youth; the creation of compliance committees that include community members to ensure compliance in the agreement, district-wide training in Positive Behavior Interventions and Support (PBIS), a revision of the school’s discipline code in accord with PBIS and a review of placement decisions and intervention plans for all children placed at the district’s alternative program, Martin Luther King Junior, Academy for Excellence. PBIS training will be conducted by the Kentucky Center for Instructional Discipline (KCID). CLC staff members are participating in compliance committee meetings and ongoing review of progress with KCID and the FCPS. To learn more about this agreement listen to the CLC radio blog interview with former Superintendent Stu Silberman, Civil Rights Compliance Officer Barbara Connor, KCID PBIS specialist Judy Boggs and lead attorney Rebecca Ballard DiLoreto.