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G.F., a Juvenile, Petitioner, v. Hon. Steven R. JAEGER, Judge, Respondent, Commonwealth of Kentucky, Real Party in Interest.
OPINION AND ORDER
Petitioner, G.F., a juvenile, seeks relief pursuant to CR 1 76.36, to prohibit the introduction in his pending trial on the charge of sodomy in the first degree (KRS 2 510.070) any evidence of his prior adjudication of guilt in juvenile court on the charge of sexual abuse in the first degree. Having considered the applicable law, this Court denies CR 76.36 relief.
G.F. is a juvenile who has been charged as an adult with two counts of sodomy in the first degree. The charges arose from an allegation that G.F. placed his mouth on the vagina of a seven-year old female and his penis in the anus of an eight-year old boy. Prior to trial, the real party in interest, the Commonwealth, filed a notice pursuant to KRE 3 404(b) of its intent to introduce evidence of G.F.'s prior adjudication of guilt in a juvenile session of Kenton District Court for sexual abuse in the first degree.4 The Commonwealth later filed a motion in limine with an accompanying memorandum of law, wherein it requested respondent, the Honorable Steven R. Jaeger, Judge, Kenton Circuit Court, to issue a pretrial ruling on the motion in limine. Judge Jaeger issued a verbal order that G.F.'s prior juvenile adjudication of guilt would be admitted into evidence. This action followed.
G.F. asks this Court to enforce the confidentiality of juvenile court proceedings and to prohibit the admission into evidence of G.F.'s adjudication of guilt for sexual abuse in the first degree. The issuance of a writ of mandamus is an extraordinary remedy. Relief will only be granted if the party seeking the writ demonstrates that there is no adequate remedy by appeal and that great or irreparable harm will result to the party seeking the writ if it is not granted.5 G.F. asserts that the admission into evidence of his adjudication of guilt from juvenile court at the circuit court trial will irreparably harm him as the confidentiality of the records will be compromised. G.F. further argues that there is no adequate remedy by appeal once the information is released into the public domain. We agree. Therefore, we shall consider the merits of G.F.'s petition for CR 76.36 relief.
It is G.F.'s position that juvenile court proceedings are confidential and that evidence of such proceedings may not be introduced in a circuit court trial unless the adjudication of guilt in the juvenile proceeding would have been classified as an A, B, or C felony if the juvenile had been tried as an adult. G.F. claims that since the adjudication of guilt at issue herein is for sexual abuse in the first degree, a Class D felony, it is inadmissible. We disagree.
KRE 404(b) permits introduction of prior bad acts in limited circumstances:
(b) Other crimes, wrongs, or acts. Evidence of other crimes, wrongs, or acts is not admissible to prove the character of a person in order to show action in conformity therewith. It may, however, be admissible:
(1) If offered for some other purpose, such as proof of motive, opportunity, intent, preparation, plan, knowledge, identity, or absence of mistake or accident; or
(2) If so inextricably intertwined with other evidence essential to the case that separation of the two (2) could not be accomplished without serious adverse effect on the offering party.
KRE 404(b) does not place any limitations on the admissibility of juvenile adjudications of guilt.
However, KRS Title 51, the Unified Juvenile Code, Chapter 610, does place limitations on the use of juvenile court records in later proceedings against the juvenile. KRS 610.340 states:
(1)(a) Unless a specific provision of KRS Chapters 600 to 645 specifies otherwise, all juvenile court records of any nature generated pursuant to KRS Chapters 600 to 645 by any agency or instrumentality, public or private, shall be deemed to be confidential and shall not be disclosed except to the child, parent, victims, or other persons authorized to attend a juvenile court hearing pursuant to KRS 610.070 unless ordered by the court for good cause.
(2) The provisions of this section shall not apply to public officers or employees engaged in the investigation of and in the prosecution of cases under KRS Chapters 600 to 645 or other portions of the Kentucky Revised Statutes.
Pursuant to this statute, juvenile court records are available to the Commonwealth's prosecutors, but these records may not be publicly disclosed unless such disclosure is authorized by an exception as provided in KRS Chapters 600 to 645.
KRS 610.320 sets forth the exceptions under which the Commonwealth may admit evidence from juvenile proceedings:
(3) All law enforcement and court records regarding children who have not reached their eighteenth birthday shall not be opened to scrutiny by the public, except court records, limited to the petition, order of the adjudication, and disposition in juvenile delinquency proceedings concerning a child who is adjudicated a juvenile delinquent for the commission of an offense that would constitute a capital offense or a Class A, B, or C felony if the juvenile were an adult, or any offense involving a deadly weapon, or an offense wherein a deadly weapon is used or displayed․ The records shall also be made available to the court, probation officers, prosecutors, the Department of Juvenile Justice, and law enforcement agencies or representatives of the cabinet.
(4) Subject to the Kentucky Rules of Evidence, juvenile court records of adjudications of guilt of a child for an offense which would be a felony if committed by an adult shall be admissible in court at any time the child is tried as an adult, or after the child becomes an adult, at any subsequent criminal trial relating to that same person. Juvenile court records made available pursuant to this section may be used for impeachment purposes during a criminal trial, and may be used during the sentencing phase of a criminal trial. However, the fact that a juvenile has been adjudicated delinquent of an offense which would be a felony if the child had been an adult shall not be used in finding the child to be a persistent felony offender based upon that adjudication.
KRS 610.320(3) limits public access to juvenile adjudications of guilt unless the juvenile committed a capital offense or an offense classified as an A, B or C felony. However, KRS 610.320(4) allows for the admission into evidence of a juvenile's adjudication of guilt in a proceeding where a juvenile is presently charged as an adult. The only limitations on admissibility are that: (1) the prior adjudication of guilt must be classified as a felony; (2) the prior adjudication of guilt may not be used for enhancement to find a child to be a persistent felony offender; and (3) the admission of the evidence is subject to the Kentucky Rules of Evidence.
In the present case, G.F. was adjudicated guilty of sexual abuse in the first degree, which is classified as a Class D felony. As the offense committed by G.F. is a felony, it is subject to being admissible as evidence. The Commonwealth gave notice pursuant to KRS 404(b) that it intended to use this evidence to impeach G.F. While this evidence cannot be used to enhance G.F.'s possible sentence under the persistent felony offender statutes, subject to the Kentucky Rules of Evidence it is admissible for other purposes.
Therefore, this Court ORDERS that G.F.'s petition for writ of mandamus pursuant to CR 76.36 be, and it is hereby, DENIED.
ENTERED: May 26, 2000
/s/ Rick A. Johnson
JUDGE, COURT OF APPEALS
I dissent. I do not believe this a matter for intermediate relief under CR 76.36. It is an evidentiary issue which should better be left for direct appeal.
Nevertheless, as I read KRS 610.320, it does not, carte blanche, authorize admission of juvenile records in adult trials. I interpret subsection (4) as authorizing their use only for impeachment or in the sentencing phase. The statute simply removes the cloak of secrecy surrounding juvenile proceedings and ensures the availability of juvenile records for limited use in criminal proceedings. The sanction of a broader use of juvenile records further contributes to the abolition of the cleavage between juvenile and adult proceedings. For some four thousand years, the laws of civilization have drawn a clear line of demarcation between treatment of juveniles and adults. The line is rapidly growing dim-approaching obliteration, a relic of the past.
FN1. Kentucky Rules of Civil Procedure.. FN1. Kentucky Rules of Civil Procedure.
FN2. Kentucky Revised Statutes.. FN2. Kentucky Revised Statutes.
FN3. Kentucky Rules of Evidence.. FN3. Kentucky Rules of Evidence.
4. The prior adjudication of guilt resulted from the sodomization of G.F.'s four and one-half year old sister and his attempt to insert his penis into her vagina.
5. Glasson v. Tucker, Ky., 477 S.W.2d 168 (1972).
COMBS, Judge, Concurs. MILLER, Judge, dissents and files separate opinion.
Response sent, thank you
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Docket No: No. 1999-CA-002588-OA.
Decided: May 26, 2000
Court: Court of Appeals of Kentucky.
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