In re KG, No. 49S04-0305-JV-225.

Docket NºNo. 49S04-0305-JV-225.
Citation808 N.E.2d 631
Case DateMay 20, 2004
CourtSupreme Court of Indiana

808 N.E.2d 631

In the Matter of K.G., D.G., D.C.B., and J.J.S

No. 49S04-0305-JV-225.

Supreme Court of Indiana.

May 20, 2004.


808 N.E.2d 632
Steve Carter, Attorney General of Indiana, Frances Barrow, Deputy Attorney General, Indianapolis, IN, Attorneys for Appellant

Katherine Cornelius, Marion County Public Defender, Indianapolis, IN, Attorney for Appellees.

Loretta A. Olesky, Indianapolis, IN, Attorney for Appellee, Child Advocates, Inc.

ON PETITION TO TRANSFER FROM THE INDIANA COURT OF APPEALS, NO. 49A04-0205-JV-239

RUCKER, Justice.

We hold that although juveniles alleged to be delinquent have the constitutional right to have their competency determined before they are subjected to delinquency proceedings, the adult competency statute is not applicable in reaching that determination.

Facts and Procedural History

This appeal arises out of four cases filed in the Marion County Juvenile Court. On August 15, 2001, the State filed a delinquency petition against then twelve-year-old K.G. alleging that he committed sexual battery, a Class D felony if committed by an adult; on November 16, 1999, the State filed a delinquency petition against then ten-year-old D.G. alleging that he committed child molesting, a Class C felony if committed by an adult; on June 6, 2000, the State filed a delinquency petition against then eleven-year-old D.C.B. alleging that he committed arson, a Class B felony if committed by an adult; and on September 12, 2000, the State filed a delinquency petition against then thirteen-year-old J.J.S. alleging that she committed burglary and theft, Class B and D felonies respectively if committed by an adult.

Represented by counsel, on September 12, 2001, K.G. filed a "motion for psychiatric examination to determine competence to stand trial." Appellant's App. at 47. Invoking the provisions of Indiana Code section 35-36-3-1, the motion sought the appointment of "two or three disinterested psychiatrists or other qualified practitioners to examine Respondent ... and report to this Court on his competence to stand trial...." Id. On June 7, 2000, counsel for D.C.B. filed a similar motion. On November 22, 1999, on behalf of D.G., counsel

808 N.E.2d 633
filed a motion captioned "Notice of Insanity Defense and Incompetency to Stand Trial." Id. at 62. Also invoking Indiana Code section 35-36-3-1 the motion alleged among other things that D.G. was "unable [to] understand the trial process and the role of the judge, attorney and prosecutor and that he will not be able to assist [the attorney] in his defense...." Id.

Although the record is not altogether clear, apparently the trial court granted each of the foregoing motions appointing various health care professionals to evaluate the juveniles. In October 2001, two different health care professionals evaluated K.G. Dr. David J. Posey, a Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist, concluded, "It is clear that [K.G.] has little to [no] knowledge about court proceedings, understanding of matters essential to cooperating with one's lawyer, or range of possible consequences.... Based on the results of this competency evaluation as well as his mild to moderate mental retardation and autism, an opinion that [K.G.] is not competent to stand trial would find support." Appellee's App. at 14. In similar fashion, Dr. Paul Aleksic, a clinical psychologist, reported that K.G. is autistic and moderately to mildly mentally handicapped. According to Dr. Aleksic, "[K.G.] is marginally able to comprehend the wrongfulness of his action but is not competent to control his actions. He further is not sufficiently mentally competent to aid in his court defense." Id. at 12.

In July 2000, Dr. Posey examined D.C.B. noting that the juvenile functioned significantly below average intelligence. Dr. Posey noted a recent psychiatric diagnosis that included "major depression, oppositional defiant disorder, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and mild to moderate mental retardation." Id. at 19. Dr. Posey concluded that D.C.B. did not have an adequate understanding of court proceedings, possible consequences, or the ability to cooperate with his lawyer. According to Dr. Posey, "[g]iven [D.C.B.]'s young age, mental retardation, and demonstrated lack of understanding of the proceedings against him, an opinion that [D.C.B.] is incompetent to stand trial would find support." Id. at 20. In September 2000, Dr. Aleksic also examined D.C.B. and noted that he "appears to present a psychotic disorder along with at least a mild mental handicap." Id. at 22. Among other things Dr. Aleksic concluded that D.C.B. "is not viewed as competent to aid in his court defense or to understand the consequences of his actions." Id.

In December 1999, Dr. Aleksic examined D.G. and concluded that he was mildly mentally handicapped, had limited intellectual ability, and that "the overall finding[s] do not suggest that he is competent to aid in his defense." Appellant's App. at 67. In May 2000 and again in September 2000, Dr. Posey also examined D.G. Although concluding that D.G. did not meet the legal definition of insanity, Dr. Posey determined that D.G. is mildly mentally retarded, exhibited symptoms of ADHD, and concluded that D.G. is "largely ignorant of court proceedings and how he could best work with his lawyer" and consequently D.G. was "not competent to stand trial." Appellee's App. at 32.

As for J.J.S., the record shows that on November 20, 2000, she entered a plea agreement with the State under which she admitted committing burglary and the State dismissed the charge of theft. The trial court accepted the agreement and scheduled a dispositional hearing for December 20, 2000. The record is unclear as to whether a hearing was conducted on that date or what might have transpired. In any event the record shows that at some point the court entered an order for a psychological evaluation to determine

808 N.E.2d 634
J.J.S.' competency to understand the proceedings. The evaluation, conducted by Dr. Aleksic on March 28, 2001, revealed that J.J.S. is moderately to mildly mentally handicapped and functionally illiterate. Id. at 5. Dr. Aleksic concluded that "[J.J.S.] is not accountable for her actions and is not viewed as competent to understand the court process." Id. at 7

The record shows that all four juveniles were placed in various residential treatment centers.1 In March 2002, the trial court entered an order finding that each of the juveniles lacked the ability to understand the proceedings and to assist in the preparation of their respective defenses. The trial court thus ordered the juveniles committed to the division of mental health for confinement in an appropriate psychiatric institution.

Thereafter the State of Indiana, through the mental health division of the Family and Social Services Administration, filed a motion to intervene in this action. The trial court granted the motion. Subsequently, the State filed a motion for relief from judgment under Indiana Trial Rule 60(B) requesting the trial court to vacate its order. The trial court denied the motion and the State appealed. On review the Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court's judgment. In re K.G., 781 N.E.2d 700 (Ind.Ct.App.2002). Having previously granted transfer, we now reverse the judgment of the trial court.

Discussion

The trial court proceeded under the adult competency statute, which provides:

(a) If at any time before the final submission of any criminal case to the court or to the jury trying the case, the court has reasonable grounds for believing that the defendant lacks the ability to understand the proceedings and assist in the preparation of his defense, the court shall immediately fix a time for a hearing to determine whether the defendant has that ability. The court shall appoint two (2) or three (3) competent, disinterested psychiatrists, psychologists endorsed by the Indiana state board of examiners in psychology as health service providers in psychology, or physicians, at least one (1) of whom must be a psychiatrist, who shall examine the defendant and testify at the hearing as to whether the defendant can understand the proceedings and assist in the preparation of the defendant's defense.
(b) At the hearing, other evidence relevant to whether the defendant has the ability to understand the proceedings and assist in the preparation of the defendant's defense may be introduced. If the court finds that the defendant has the ability to understand the proceedings and assist in the preparation of the defendant's defense, the trial shall proceed. If the court finds that the defendant lacks this ability, it shall delay or continue the trial and order the defendant committed to the division of mental health and addiction, to be confined by the division in an appropriate psychiatric institution.

808 N.E.2d 635
Ind.Code § 35-36-3-1. The State contends here, as it did before the Court of Appeals, that the trial court's reliance on the adult competency statute was improper because the juvenile code provides procedures that permit a court to make competency determinations for children and place them in treatment centers when necessary. The Court of Appeals rejected this argument, concluding (1) juveniles have a constitutional right to have their competency determined before they are subjected to delinquency proceedings, and (2) because the juvenile code provides no procedure for determining the competency of children, the adult...

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38 practice notes
  • People v. Jonathon C.B. (In re Jonathon C.B.), No. 107750.
    • United States
    • Illinois Supreme Court
    • November 28, 2011
    ...adults, the State is entitled to adjust its legal system to account for children's vulnerability and their needs * * *.’ ” In re K.G., 808 N.E.2d 631, 636 (Ind.2004) (quoting Bellotti v. Baird, 443 U.S. 622, 635, 99 S.Ct. 3035, 61 L.Ed.2d 797 (1979)). The juvenile court system is founded on......
  • People v. C.B. (In re C.B.), Docket No. 107750
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Illinois
    • June 30, 2011
    ...adults, the State is entitled to adjust its legal system to account for children's vulnerability and their needs ***.' " In re K.G., 808 N.E.2d 631, 636 (Ind. 2004) (quoting Bellotti v. Baird, 443 U.S. 622, 635 (1979)). The juvenile court system is founded on the American common law do......
  • People ex rel. A.C.E-D., Court of Appeals Nos. 15CA0342 & 15CA0531
    • United States
    • Colorado Court of Appeals of Colorado
    • November 15, 2018
    ...People in Interest of W.P. , 2013 CO 11, ¶ 37, 295 P.3d 514 ; accord Matter of W.A.F. , 573 A.2d 1264, 1267 (D.C. 1990) ; In re K.G. , 808 N.E.2d 631, 639 (Ind. 2004). And some states have gone further to consider factors unique to juveniles when making a competency determination. See In re......
  • SWM v. State, No. S–12–0154.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
    • April 25, 2013
    ...and/or treatment of a child after a delinquency petition has been filed in order to determine the child's competency.” In re K.G., 808 N.E.2d 631, 639 (Ind.2004). [¶ 16] Many other states have concluded that children have the due process right to be subject to juvenile proceedings only if t......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
38 cases
  • People v. Jonathon C.B. (In re Jonathon C.B.), No. 107750.
    • United States
    • Illinois Supreme Court
    • November 28, 2011
    ...adults, the State is entitled to adjust its legal system to account for children's vulnerability and their needs * * *.’ ” In re K.G., 808 N.E.2d 631, 636 (Ind.2004) (quoting Bellotti v. Baird, 443 U.S. 622, 635, 99 S.Ct. 3035, 61 L.Ed.2d 797 (1979)). The juvenile court system is founded on......
  • People v. C.B. (In re C.B.), Docket No. 107750
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Illinois
    • June 30, 2011
    ...adults, the State is entitled to adjust its legal system to account for children's vulnerability and their needs ***.' " In re K.G., 808 N.E.2d 631, 636 (Ind. 2004) (quoting Bellotti v. Baird, 443 U.S. 622, 635 (1979)). The juvenile court system is founded on the American common law do......
  • People ex rel. A.C.E-D., Court of Appeals Nos. 15CA0342 & 15CA0531
    • United States
    • Colorado Court of Appeals of Colorado
    • November 15, 2018
    ...People in Interest of W.P. , 2013 CO 11, ¶ 37, 295 P.3d 514 ; accord Matter of W.A.F. , 573 A.2d 1264, 1267 (D.C. 1990) ; In re K.G. , 808 N.E.2d 631, 639 (Ind. 2004). And some states have gone further to consider factors unique to juveniles when making a competency determination. See In re......
  • SWM v. State, No. S–12–0154.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
    • April 25, 2013
    ...and/or treatment of a child after a delinquency petition has been filed in order to determine the child's competency.” In re K.G., 808 N.E.2d 631, 639 (Ind.2004). [¶ 16] Many other states have concluded that children have the due process right to be subject to juvenile proceedings only if t......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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