IN THE MATTER OF: K.J.R. A Youth.
Submitted on Briefs: January 18, 2017
FROM: District Court of the Ninth Judicial District, In and
For the County of Toole, Cause No. DJ 12-05 Honorable Robert
G. Olson, Presiding Judge.
Appellant: Chad Wright, Chief Appellate Defender, James
Reavis, Assistant Appellate Defender, Helena, Montana.
Appellee: Timothy C. Fox, Montana Attorney General, Mardell
Ployhar, Assistant Attorney General, Helena, Montana, Merle
Raph, Toole County Attorney, Shelby, Montana.
M. SANDEFUR JUSTICE.
K.J.R. challenges the legality of a Youth Court order that
committed him to the Department of Corrections for placement
at the Pine Hills Youth Correctional Facility. We affirm.
We reframe the issues on appeal as follows:
1. Did the Youth Court err by revoking the youth's
previously imposed youth court commitment and committing him
to the Department of Corrections for placement at a state
youth correctional facility?
2. Did counsel for K.J.R. provide ineffective assistance
by failing to object to revocation proceedings in the absence
of previously imposed probationary conditions?
By petition filed June 20, 2012, the State charged
twelve-year-old K.J.R. with seven felony and misdemeanor
offenses including theft of a motor vehicle, theft of a .40
caliber handgun, criminal mischief in the shooting of a calf,
criminal trespass, and accountability to theft of a motor
scooter in Toole County, Montana. Upon K.J.R.'s admission
that he committed "an act which, if committed by an
adult, would constitute a criminal act, " the Ninth
Judicial District Youth Court adjudicated K.J.R. to be a
"delinquent youth, " as defined by §
At the time of the original dispositional hearing on July 12,
2012, K.J.R.'s parents were both incarcerated on
drug-related offenses and unavailable to parent him. The
Youth Court committed K.J.R. "to the supervision"
of the Youth Court until age eighteen, or sooner released,
for placement at a specific therapeutic group home in
Billings. The dispositional order further provided that the
"Youth Court Officer shall have the ability to find an
alternative suitable placement" if the specified
placement was "not attainable."
For reasons not of record on appeal, the supervising juvenile
probation officer initially placed the youth at a
non-therapeutic group home in Great Falls. Over the next
three years, the juvenile probation officer moved K.J.R. in
and out of a sequence of juvenile facilities and foster care
homes. Between placements, K.J.R. spent considerable time in
juvenile detention until his probation officer could secure
the next placement.
K.J.R.'s first placement at the Missouri River Group Home
in Great Falls lasted only a few months before the facility
requested his removal for disruptive behavior and violations
of house rules. The probation officer next placed K.J.R. at
the Youth Christian Ranch in Roundup, which lasted two years
before the facility requested his removal due to disorderly
conduct, truancy, and marijuana use. The next placement at
the North Skyline Youth Home in Great Falls ended within a
few weeks after K.J.R. fought with other boys and violated
Violations of house rules similarly triggered K.J.R.'s
removal from his fourth placement at a therapeutic foster
care home in Shelby. His juvenile probation officer then
arranged for a kinship placement with an aunt in Shelby in
anticipation of the return of K.J.R.'s mother upon her
completion of a prerelease program in Great Falls.
On September 8, 2015, based on new allegations that
fifteen-year-old K.J.R. had recently been truant,
insubordinate at school, involved in an assault, and failed
to timely return to Shelby from Great Falls, the State filed
a petition to revoke K.J.R.'s Youth Court probation. At
the adjudicatory hearing on September 30, 2015, the Youth
Court adjudicated the alleged probation violations as true.
The Youth Court continued the dispositional hearing four
times to allow K.J.R.'s counsel time to find an
alternative therapeutic placement. At the hearing on October
29, 2015, counsel reported that his efforts to secure
placement for K.J.R. failed because K.J.R. lacked an
up-to-date psychiatric evaluation. A contemplated
out-of-state therapeutic placement required Medicaid funding,
which was not available without a current psychiatric
At the close of the dispositional hearing, the Youth Court
revoked K.J.R.'s original commitment to the Youth Court
for private, out-of-home placement. Pursuant to the
recommendations of the juvenile probation officer and the
youth placement committee, the Court committed K.J.R. to the
supervision of the Montana Department of Corrections (DOC)
for placement at the Pine Hills Youth Correctional Facility