Wednesday, April 30, 2014

KYSC – R.S. v. Comm -- Juvenile Trial Practice Procedures and Juvenile Restitution

R.S. v. Commonwealth, 423 S.W.3d 178 (Ky. 2014) - R.S. was charged with complicity to second degree criminal mischief for allegedly participating in the vandalism of a car.  Though the evidence showed his involvement was minor, he was ordered to pay full restitution to the victim.

The case was appealed to the Kentucky Supreme Court upheld the trial court’s verdict.  However, in doing so the Court made several significant changes to juvenile law. 

First, the court eliminated the requirement of a motion for directed verdict in a juvenile adjudication, holding that at the close of the Commonwealth’s evidence, defense counsel should instead move for dismissal under CR 41.02(2).  The significance of the difference is that upon making such a motion the juvenile court is required to “‘weigh and evaluate the evidence,’” rather than “indulge every inference in the [Commonwealth’s] favor’” as required with a directed verdict.

Second, the court found that in juvenile cases where the court seeks to order restitution, the court must hold a restitution hearing, and make findings on the record as to why restitution is in the “best interests” of the child.  Restitution must be reasonable, balancing the interests of making the victim whole with the child’s ability to pay.  Factors to be considered include the child’s age, earning ability, employment status, the ability of parents to pay, and the existence of any legal remedies available to the victim other than restitution.

R.S. was represented at various stages of the appellate process by several former and current members of the Juvenile Post Disposition Branch, including Gail Robinson, Dawn Fesmier, and John Wampler. John Wampler argued the case before the Kentucky Supreme Court

Contributed by John Wampler

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Huff Post: Almost Everyone In This Neighborhood Has Been Locked Up At Some Point

From Huffington Post 

Welcome to Beecher Terrace, a housing project in Louisville, Kentucky where nearly everyone has been to jail or prison.

"Prison State," the second half of Frontline's "Locked Up In America" series premiering Tuesday night on PBS, follows four residents of Beecher Terrace as they make their way in and out of the corrections system. 

About 1 in 6 adult residents of the housing complex will cycle in and out of prison each year, according to Frontline. Filmmaker Dan Edge said that all of the current and former inmates he met from the neighborhood told the same story: "Basically, once you've been to prison once, it is hugely challenging not to get sucked back in."

Kentucky had one of the country's fastest-growing prison populations between 1999 and 2009, according to the Pew Center on the States, though the state's rate of serious crime did not increase during that period.
Complete article and a preview of tonight's Frontline episode 

Monday, April 28, 2014

Upcoming on Frontline: Prison State

What to Watch: In Prison State, airing online and on air starting April 29, FRONTLINE follows Kentucky’s attempts to reform its criminal justice program through those it impacts most.

In Latest Reform, Kentucky Softens Approach to Juvenile Offenders

Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear (D) today plans to sign into law a package of reforms to the state’s juvenile justice program on Friday, the latest step in Kentucky’s effort to overhaul its criminal justice system.

The state is one of several nationwide that has begun to look at new approaches to criminal justice, after decades of spending millions on incarceration. While the motive is largely financial, the impact has begun to be felt, particularly in African-American communities, who are disproportionately represented among 2.2 million people currently incarcerated in U.S. prisons and jails nationwide.

Kentucky has an incarceration problem. Although crime rates have remained low, the state prison population has far outpaced the national average, rising 45 percent in the decade ending in 2009, compared to 13 percent nationwide. Kentucky’s juvenile detention has followed a similar trend even as youth crime has declined.
Complete article and Trailer

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

C-J article on Prosecutorial Misconduct in Louisville

Prosecutor's cases to be reviewed after mistrial declared in Hammond case

Judge Angela McCormick Bisig declared a mistrial in the murder trial of Dejuan Hammond, a day after Hammond's defense team complained of "prosecutorial misconduct," saying investigators have for five years had a summary of an interview with Hammond's former girlfriend that they had failed to turn over.

Defense attorneys accused Van De Rostyne of not only not turning over the evidence, but of purposefully hiding it and keeping it from attorneys because it contained exculpatory information....
[C]urrent prosecutors on the case acknowledged it appeared the evidence - a summary of an interview with Hammond's former girlfriend - had been tampered with and withheld inappropriately.
"It's one of the more disappointing experiences, to be honest with you, that I've had in the nearly 30 years I've been prosecuting here in this community," said Jim Lesousky, assistant commonwealth attorney.

Complete article 

Monday, April 7, 2014

Louisville jail signs up exiting inmates for Obamacare - Courier-Journal

Louisville Metro Corrections last week began holding daily sign-ups for exiting inmates, and Garcia was among those qualifying for the newly expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.

It's part of a growing push nationwide by prisons and jails trying to take advantage of expanded health care to curb rapidly rising medical costs in a setting where many are poor, unhealthy and uninsured.

Their motivation is twofold: Expensive inmate hospitalizations lasting more than 24 hours can be billed to Medicaid, cutting local and state costs. And it provides coverage to a population whose high rates of chronic disease, substance abuse and mental illness often land them back in jail, where they are expensive to treat.

Complete Louisville Courier-Journal article