IN THE MATTER OF: D.L. MINOR CHILD
Appeal from the Court of Common Pleas, Juvenile Division,
Case No. 2015 JCR 00693
Plaintiff-Appellee JOHN D. FERRERO PROSECUTING ATTORNEY
RONALD MARK CALDWELL ASSISTANT PROSECUTOR
Defendant-Appellant MICHAEL P. WALTON ASSISTANT PUBLIC
JUDGES: Hon. William B. Hoffman, P. J. Hon. John W. Wise, J.
Hon. Craig R. Baldwin, J.
Appellant D.L., a juvenile, appeals his adjudication, in the
Stark County Court of Common Pleas, Juvenile Division, for
delinquency by reason of gross sexual imposition. Appellee is
the State of Ohio. The relevant procedural facts leading to
this appeal are as follows.
On April 24, 2015, a juvenile complaint was filed in Stark
County alleging Appellant D.L., then a 15-year-old male, was
delinquent via the commission of gross sexual imposition
(R.C. 2907.05(A)(4)), a felony of the third degree if
committed by an adult. According to the complaint, brought
under juvenile court case number 2015-JCR-00693, appellant
was fourteen at the time of the offense, and the victim was a
Subsequently, appellant was also the subject of a delinquency
complaint for allegedly violating a prior court order
("VIPCO"), under juvenile court case number
2015-JCR-01382. The two cases were combined for economy of
adjudication and disposition, although 2015-JCR-01382 is not
specifically referenced in the underlying notice of appeal.
Appellant initially entered pleas of not true.
On May 22, 2015, during pretrial proceedings, appellant's
trial counsel requested a competency evaluation for his
client. The juvenile court granted the request. Psychologist
Colin Christensen, Ph.D., subsequently conducted
appellant's competency evaluation.
In his ensuing report, Dr. Christensen discussed inter
alia appellant's significant mental health history,
medications, and treatment. He noted appellant's existing
diagnoses included, but were not limited to, autism spectrum
disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder, Asperger's
disorder, dysthymia, ADHD, adjustment disorder, and anxiety
disorder. See Competency Report and Evaluation, July
10, 2015, State's Exh. 5, at 3. Dr. Christensen also
determined that appellant sometimes demonstrated a "lack
of common sense, " but displayed above-average
intelligence. See Evaluation at 4. Dr. Christensen
further concluded that appellant was not competent to stand
trial in the juvenile court at that time, but in his
professional opinion it was "likely that [appellant]
could attain competency to stand trial within six months in a
nonresidential setting." See Evaluation at 6-7
(emphases deleted). The recommended competency attainment
services included education regarding the seriousness of the
charges, the roles of the judge and the attorneys,
appreciation of the consequences of the charges and future
adjudication, and decision-making as to plea bargaining.
Id. at 7.
On July 20, 2015, based upon a stipulation to the aforesaid
report, the juvenile court ordered that appellant undergo
competency attainment services, and that periodic review take
place of the progress of these services. Accordingly,
Kimberly Genis, M.Ed., who is employed by the juvenile court
to provide attainment and/or restorative services, including
competency attainment, conducted nine sessions with appellant
over a three-month period. Genis also submitted periodic
reports to the court, the last of which, submitted October
29, 2015, reached the following conclusion: "It is
through review of created modules, discussion, questioning, a
courtroom tour and quizzes that I have come to the conclusion
that [appellant] has successfully achieved the goals of the
attainment plan." See State's Exh. 8.
The case was then set for a pre-trial to the senior
magistrate on November 16, 2015. At said hearing, the State
asked the court to proceed to an adjudicatory hearing based
upon Genis's aforesaid report that essentially concluded
attainment had been successful. However, appellant's
defense counsel disputed proceeding to adjudication, and
instead requested another competency evaluation. Defense
counsel urged that since Genis's role was to provide
attainment services, not to determine competency, an
additional qualified competency review was needed, including
a review of the attainment service reports. Tr. at 8. The
senior magistrate ultimately did not grant counsel's
request for a new evaluation, but he scheduled an evidentiary
hearing before the juvenile judge. See
Magistrate's Order, Nov. 18, 2015.
After one continuance, the evidentiary hearing regarding
competency went forward on December 22, 2015. The State
called Ms. Genis as a witness, while appellant called Dr.
Christensen. Appellant also called Clorinda Brace, service
coordinator for the Tuscarawas County Family Children's
First Council, and Jamar Wedeaamn, appellant's direct
care mentor from Pathway Caring for Children.
Via a judgment entry issued the day after the competency
hearing, the juvenile court found appellant competent for
purposes of adjudication; i.e., it concluded
appellant had "attained a necessary level of competency
to stand trial on this offense."
The matter proceeded to an additional pre-trial hearing
before a magistrate on February 1, 2016. The court was
informed at that time that appellant would be entering an
admission to the gross sexual imposition complaint. After
reciting the rights appellant would be waiving by entering an
admission, the court accepted appellant's plea of true.
Upon the completion of a risk assessment, the juvenile court
conducted a dispositional hearing on May 9, 2016. Following
said hearing, appellant was committed to the Ohio Department
of Youth Services for a minimum period of six months and a
maximum period until his twenty-first birthday. The court
also classified appellant as a Tier I juvenile sex offender.
A final judgment entry was filed on May 19, 2016.
On June 17, 2016, appellant filed a notice of appeal. He
herein raises the following sole Assignment of Error:
"I. D.L WAS DENIED HIS RIGHT TO DUE PROCESS OF LAW WHEN
HE WAS ADJUDICATED DELINQUENT WHILE HE WAS INCOMPETENT, IN
VIOLATION OF R.C. 2152.51; JUV.R. 29; THE FIFTH AND
FOURTEENTH AMENDMENTS TO THE U.S. ...