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In re J.W.

Supreme Court of Montana

December 20, 2016

IN THE MATTER OF: J.W., A Delinquent Youth.

          Submitted on Briefs: October 26, 2016

         APPEAL FROM: Youth Court and District Court of the Fifth Judicial District, In and For the County of Jefferson, Cause No. DJ-2013-3 and DC-2015-48 Honorable Loren Tucker, Presiding Judge

          For Appellant Al Avignon, Lisa A. Banick, Avignon, Banick & Williams, PLLC, Bozeman, Montana

          For Appellee Timothy C. Fox, Montana Attorney General, Tammy A. Hinderman, Assistant Attorney General, Helena, Montana, Steve C. Haddon, Jefferson County Attorney, Danielle Perry, Deputy County Attorney, Boulder, Montana

          James Jeremiah Shea Justice

         ¶1 J.W. appeals an order of the Fifth Judicial District Youth Court, Jefferson County, granting the State of Montana's motion to transfer J.W.'s case to the Fifth Judicial District Court, Jefferson County, and denying J.W.'s motion to suppress statements he made to treatment providers. We address the following issues:

Issue One: Whether the Youth Court erred in granting the State's motion to transfer J.W.'s Youth Court proceeding to the District Court pursuant to § 41-5-208, MCA.
Issue Two: Whether the Youth Court and District Court erred in imposing house arrest with restrictive conditions on J.W. pending a final disposition of his case.

         ¶2 We affirm.

         PROCEDURAL AND FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         ¶3 In September 2013, J.W. pled true to two counts of sexual intercourse without consent in violation of § 45-5-503, MCA, and one count of solicitation of sexual intercourse without consent in violation of §§ 45-4-101 and 45-5-503, MCA. In January 2014, the Youth Court designated J.W. a delinquent youth and serious juvenile offender and placed him on probation, subject to several conditions, including the successful completion of a sexual offender treatment program (SOTP). J.W. also was prohibited from having unsupervised contact with youths under the age of sixteen.

         ¶4 In April 2014, the State filed a petition to revoke J.W.'s probation. J.W. pled true to unsupervised contact with a youth under the age of sixteen in violation of his probation. On June 25, 2014, the Youth Court held a dispositional hearing. On June 30, 2014, the Youth Court issued a disposition order revoking J.W.'s probation, committing him to a Montana Department of Corrections (DOC) placement at Pine Hills Youth Correctional Facility until the age of eighteen, and requiring him to complete phases I and II of Pine Hills' juvenile SOTP. In July 2014, J.W. entered Pine Hills' SOTP. In March 2015, he was expelled from the SOTP.

         ¶5 In June 2015, the State filed a motion to revoke the District Court's disposition order, transfer J.W.'s case to the District Court pursuant to § 41-5-208, MCA, and order him to complete phases I and II of an SOTP within a secure DOC facility. The basis for the State's motion was that J.W. did not complete Pine Hills' SOTP in accordance with the June 30, 2014 disposition order. The State attached to its motion a letter written by Alice Hougardy, a licensed clinical professional counselor at Pine Hills. Hougardy's letter referenced the results of a polygraph administered to J.W. Because of the reference to the polygraph results, the Youth Court denied the State's motion, but granted the State leave to file a new motion.

         ¶6 In August 2015, the State filed a new motion to transfer pursuant to § 41-5-208, MCA. The State attached a letter from Hougardy that did not reference the polygraph. J.W. moved to strike the State's motion and to suppress statements he made to his SOTP treatment providers. The Youth Court scheduled a transfer hearing for September 30, 2015. Before the hearing, J.W. turned eighteen and was released from Pine Hills to the custody of his parents. The day before the hearing, J.W. filed an emergency motion to vacate the hearing on the basis that there was nothing for the Youth ...


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