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JB v. State

Supreme Court of Wyoming

July 12, 2013

JB, Petitioner,
v.
The STATE Of Wyoming, Respondent.

Page 1138

Representing Petitioner: Diane M. Lozano, State Public Defender; Eric M. Alden, Senior Assistant Appellate Counsel. Argument by Mr. Alden.

Representing Respondent: Gregory A. Phillips, Attorney General; David L. Delicath, Deputy Attorney General; Theodore R. Racines, Senior Assistant Attorney General; Jeffrey S. Pope, Assistant Attorney General. Argument by Mr. Pope.

Before KITE, C.J., and HILL, VOIGT, BURKE, and DAVIS, JJ.

BURKE, Justice.

[¶ 1] The Petitioner, JB,[1] is a minor who was charged as an adult with nine felonies arising from a home invasion and the resulting deaths of two individuals. He was fifteen at the time of the crimes. Prior to trial, JB filed a Motion to Transfer Proceedings to Juvenile Court. The district court denied the motion. JB then filed a Petition for Writ of Review seeking interlocutory review of that decision. In support of his Petition, he claimed that the district court improperly placed the burden on him to establish that the case should be transferred to juvenile court. We granted the Petition. Upon review, we conclude that the district court erred in failing to assign the burden of persuasion to the State to establish that the case should not be transferred to juvenile court. Accordingly, we reverse and remand for further proceedings.

ISSUE

[¶ 2] Although JB lists nine issues in his brief, we find a single issue to be dispositive: Did the district court improperly place the burden of persuasion on JB rather than on the State?

FACTS

[¶ 3] On March 14, 2012, JB was charged with two counts of first degree murder, two counts of conspiracy to commit first degree murder, two counts of aggravated robbery, two counts of conspiracy to commit aggravated robbery, and one count of first degree arson. The prosecution alleged that JB had assisted three adults in their plan to rob and kill two victims in their home. It asserted that two of the adults entered the victims' home and robbed and attacked them, while JB and the other adult stayed outside to act as lookouts and messengers. Later, JB entered the home, and as instructed by one of the adults, allegedly struck one of the victims on the head with a dresser drawer. The prosecution alleged that JB may have struck the killing blow. It was further alleged that JB and one of the adults attempted to set fire to the home.

[¶ 4] Although JB was fifteen when the crimes were allegedly committed, he was charged in district court as an adult. JB moved to transfer his case to juvenile court. In his memorandum in support of the motion to transfer, JB asserted that he did not participate in the planning of the crimes, but was coerced into participating by the adults. He emphasized that he was developmentally

Page 1139

challenged and immature, and likely to be rehabilitated by the services and facilities available to the juvenile court. The State resisted the motion. After substantial briefing from the parties, the district court held a hearing and, ultimately, denied the motion. JB filed a Petition for Writ of Review, seeking to challenge the district court's denial of his motion to transfer the proceedings to juvenile court. We granted the Petition.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

[¶ 5] " Allocation of the burden of proof is a matter of law." Dan's Supermarket v. Pate,2001 WY 104, ¶ 8, 33 P.3d 1121, 1124 (Wyo.2001); JM v. Department of Family Servs., 922 P.2d 219, 221 (Wyo.1996). We review questions of law de novo. Amoco ...


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