State v. Hanning, 99-437.

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Ohio
Citation728 NE 2d 1059,89 Ohio St.3d 86
Docket NumberNo. 99-437.,99-437.
Decision Date07 June 2000

89 Ohio St.3d 86
728 NE 2d 1059


No. 99-437.

Supreme Court of Ohio.

Submitted February 22, 2000.

Decided June 7, 2000.

89 Ohio St.3d 88
Ron O'Brien, Franklin County Prosecuting Attorney, and Amy H. Kulesa, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney, for appellant

Judith M. Stevenson, Franklin County Public Defender, John W. Keeling and Rebecca Steele, Assistant Public Defenders, for appellee.


Today we are asked to determine whether the complicity statute, R.C. 2923.03, applies to juvenile bindover criteria set forth in R.C. 2151.26. For the reasons that follow, we find that it does not and we therefore affirm the judgment of the court of appeals.

I. History of Juvenile Justice

The first juvenile court was established in Chicago, in 1899. Zierdt, The Little Engine that Arrived at the Wrong Station: How to Get Juvenile Justice Back on the Right Track (1999), 33 U.S.F.L.Rev. 401, 406-409. The juvenile justice system is grounded in the legal doctrine of parens patricte, meaning that the state has the power to act as a provider of protection to those unable to care for themselves. In re T.R. (1990), 52 Ohio St.3d 6, 15, 556 N.E.2d 439, 448; Black's Law Dictionary (7 Ed.1999) 1137. Since its origin, the juvenile justice system has emphasized individual assessment, the best interest of the child, treatment, and rehabilitation, with a goal of reintegrating juveniles back into society. See

89 Ohio St.3d 89
D'Ambra, A Legal Response to Juvenile Crime: Why Waiver of Juvenile Offenders is Not a Panacea (1997), 2 Roger Williams U.L.Rev. 277, 280

In the early juvenile justice system, although the child was accused of a criminal offense, many of the formal criminal procedures in adult court were omitted. See Feld, The Transformation of the Juvenile Court (1991), 75 Minn. L.Rev. 691, 693-695. While some of the formal adult court procedures have been adopted since then, the language of the proceedings today still reflects the rehabilitative goals of the juvenile justice system. Instead of "defendants," children are "respondents" or simply "juveniles"; instead of a trial, children receive "hearings"; children are not found guilty, they are "adjudicated delinquent"; and instead of sentencing, children's cases are terminated through "disposition." See R.C. Chapter 2151 and Rules of Juvenile Procedure. In addition, traditionally juveniles have been shielded from the stigma of the proceedings by keeping hearings private and not publishing juveniles' names. See Champion & Mays, Transferring Juveniles to Criminal Courts: Trends and Implications for Criminal Justice (1991) 38.

Through some United States Supreme Court decisions in the 1960s and 1970s, see Kent v. United States (1966), 383 U.S. 541, 86 S.Ct. 1045, 16 L.Ed.2d 84; In re Gault (1967), 387 U.S. 1, 87 S.Ct. 1428, 18 L.Ed.2d 527; In re Winship (1970), 397 U.S. 358, 90 S.Ct. 1068, 25 L.Ed.2d 368, juveniles were given many of the same procedural protections as adults, making the proceedings more formal. Bell, Ohio Gets Tough on Juvenile Crime: An Analysis of Ohio's 1996 Amendments Concerning the Bindover of Violent Juvenile Offenders to the Adult System and Related Legislation (1997), 66 U.Cin.L.Rev. 207, 213. Yet, the goals of rehabilitation and protection remained.

According to some statistics, between 1965 and 1990, juvenile arrests for violent crime quadrupled. Redding, Juveniles Transferred to Criminal Court: Legal Reform Proposals Based on Social Science Research (1997), 1997 Utah L.Rev. 709, 762. As the juvenile crime rate began to rise, the public demanded tougher treatment of juveniles, and policymakers around the nation rushed to legislate a cure. See, generally, Rossum, Holding Juveniles Accountable: Reforming America's "Juvenile Injustice System" (1995), 22 Pepperdine L.Rev. 907.

II. Rise in Juvenile Crime and the Legislative Response

As part of Ohio's response to rising juvenile crime, in 1996, the General Assembly enacted Am.Sub.H.B. No. 1, which included one of the hallmarks of this "get tough" approach, i.e., R.C. 2151.26, which provides for mandatory bindovers to transfer children age fourteen and older in certain situations. 146 Ohio Laws, Part I, 1, 18. In most instances involving delinquency, juveniles can be effectively tried and handled in the juvenile justice system. However, in some extraordinary cases, involving older or violent offenders, the General Assembly enacted

89 Ohio St.3d 90
R.C. 2151.26 to provide special measures for transferring these juveniles to adult court

Two types of transfer exist under Ohio's juvenile justice system: discretionary and mandatory. Discretionary transfer, as its name implies, allows judges the discretion to transfer or bind over to adult court certain juveniles who do not appear to be amenable to care or rehabilitation within the juvenile system or appear to be a threat to public safety. See R.C. 2151.26(C).

Mandatory transfer removes discretion from judges in the transfer decision in certain situations. One such mandatory transfer situation enumerated in the juvenile bindover statute, R.C. 2151.26, is where, as in this case, the juvenile is alleged to have used a gun in commission of certain crimes. Under this provision:

"After a complaint has been filed alleging that a child is a delinquent child for committing an act that would be an offense if committed by an adult, the court at a hearing shall transfer the case for criminal prosecution to the appropriate court having jurisdiction of the offense if the child was fourteen years of age or older at the time of the act charged, if there is probable cause to believe that the child committed the act charged, and if one or more of the following applies to the child or the act charged:

" * * *

"(4) The act charged is a category two offense, other than a violation of section...

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