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Message from Chief Judge Satterfeild.

 
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denisew



Joined: 25 Mar 2005
Posts: 163

PostPosted: Wed Mar 31, 2010 9:57 pm    Post subject: Message from Chief Judge Satterfeild. Reply with quote

-- On Tue, 3/30/10, Gurowitz, Leah H. <Leah> wrote:

From: Gurowitz, Leah H. <Leah>
Subject: Message from Chief Judge Satterfield, DC Superior Court, regarding recent listserv conversation on juvenile crime
To: Date: Tuesday, March 30, 2010, 5:28 PM
To Ward 1 ANC Commissioners:
I have been made aware of an email exchange on several Ward1 listservs last week in which several inaccurate statements were made about the juvenile justice system in the District of Columbia . I wanted to take this opportunity to clarify what authority D.C. law does – and does not – provide Family Court judges. I would ask that one of you please forward this to the listservs that the exchange was posted on.
DC law does not provide the Court with any authority over youth committed to the custody of the city. Family Court judges who find a juvenile ‘involved’ in a crime (the DC Code’s nomenclature for guilt), have but two options: put the youth on probation, which the court’s juvenile probation officers monitor and over which the judges have control, or, if the judge thinks probation is not sufficient, the judge can commit the youth to the city at which point the court loses all authority over the youth including the authority to securely detain a youth.
In his email, in reference to a particular case, CM Graham said that judge after judge did not “take charges seriously enough” and that “one of the reasons we have such a high level of youth violence in this city is this: Young criminals think they have nothing to fear from the courts…” I agree that youth often do not fear going before a judge but the reason is that youth know that if they are adjudicated guilty by a judge, the judge has no authority to securely detain them under DC law. However, I disagree with CM Graham’s statement that judges do not take the charges seriously. Usually when judges commit youth to the city, we do so because we believe that probation is not sufficient and that the youth needs secure detention or long term residential placement at a treatment facility. In other words, we believe that the charges are serious enough to warrant removing the youth from the community either for the safety of the community or safety of the youth. We just do not have the authority to accomplish this goal. I have expressed these concerns many times to members of both the legislative and executive branches of government. So I find it very troubling and somewhat irresponsible when I see this public effort by CM Graham to blame the judges. No system is perfect, including the court system. However, we make every effort to meet the needs of all residents in the community that we serve, consistent with our mandate to provide justice for all.
Lee F. Satterfield
Chief Judge
Superior Court of the District of Columbia
500 Indiana Avenue, Northwest
Washington, D.C. 20001
202-879-1600
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jl



Joined: 21 Jul 2008
Posts: 45

PostPosted: Thu Apr 08, 2010 11:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you for posting.

However, I'm not sure I understand. Is the Judge saying the DC courts have no authority to sentence under-age criminals to jail?

Related, is there truth to the rumor that the shooter or driver of last week's mass murder had 9 previous convictions?

Appreciate your time.
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denisew



Joined: 25 Mar 2005
Posts: 163

PostPosted: Sat Apr 10, 2010 8:53 pm    Post subject: sentencing Reply with quote

Juveniles are not "sentenced" The Chief Judge (who I believe also did a stint as head of the family division" is asolutely correct. Juveniles are either "committed" to DYS or not. They can make recommendations about what should happen to a youth-everything from special ed etc., but they can force the District to detain a youth off the streets. They are then a ward of the "state" who is supposed to be rehabilitating the youth and protecting the public. Note the court has a proposal as mentioned by the Chief judge to deal with it.
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jl



Joined: 21 Jul 2008
Posts: 45

PostPosted: Sat Apr 10, 2010 9:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you for the reply, though I'm still confused a bit. I get that there is no direct 'sanctions' issued by the judge. But do these guys Ever go to jail? Or charged as an adult and jailed? Obviously jail isn't the answer for everyone, but a guy with multiple convictions should at least be considered, no? Or is this normal and I've watched to much Law n
Order?
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jack



Joined: 23 Mar 2004
Posts: 4797
Location: 19th & Lamont

PostPosted: Sun Apr 11, 2010 8:42 am    Post subject: juveniles tried as adults Reply with quote

jl wrote:
Thank you for the reply, though I'm still confused a bit. I get that there is no direct 'sanctions' issued by the judge. But do these guys Ever go to jail? Or charged as an adult and jailed? Obviously jail isn't the answer for everyone, but a guy with multiple convictions should at least be considered, no? Or is this normal and I've watched to much Law n
Order?


From the "Guide to the DC Juvenile Justice System":

"If the youth is at least 15 years old and is charged with murder, first degree sexual abuse, burglary in the first degree, robbery while armed, assault with intent to commit any of those offenses, or any crime committed with a firearm, DC law presumes that the youth should be transferred to adult criminal court. However, the youth’s attorney can argue to the Juvenile Court judge that the case should not be transferred to adult criminal court."

"At least 15 years old" is the operative phrase. If under 15, then trial as an adult is not an option.

-- Jack
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