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L.A. et al v. the Superior Court of the State of California In and For the County of San Diego

October 2, 2012

L.A. ET AL., PETITIONERS,
v.
THE SUPERIOR COURT OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA IN AND FOR THE COUNTY OF SAN DIEGO, RESPONDENT; THE PEOPLE, REAL PARTY IN INTEREST.



(Super. Ct. Nos. JCM225529, JCM228471)

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Benke, Acting P. J.

CERTIFIED FOR PUBLICATION

In this habeas proceeding two minors argue the juvenile court unlawfully committed them to juvenile hall during school hours after unsuccessfully attempting to obtain their compliance with its orders that they attend school. Although because neither minor is still in custody, habeas relief is not available, we will treat their joint petition as a petition for a writ of mandate. We do so because both minors are still subject to the jurisdiction of the juvenile court, it does not appear the truancy problems which give rise to the orders they challenge have been resolved and thus it will be of some assistance to the juvenile court and the parties if we reach the merits of the minors' claims.

We deny relief with respect to one of the minors and grant it in part with respect to the other minor with instructions the juvenile court make the findings required by the court's holding in In re Michael G. (1988) 44 Cal.3d 283, 297-298 (Michael G.). In doing so, we agree with the district attorney's contention that in exercising its contempt power the juvenile court may order a juvenile to be confined in a secure facility during school hours as well as nonschool hours.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

1. L.A.

Between March 9, 2010, and September 6, 2011, the People, by way of a petition and proceedings under Welfare and Institutions Code*fn1 sections 601 and 213, attempted to get petitioner L.A. to attend school. At the time the People filed their petition, L.A. was 12 years old and according to the petition had six or more absences from school.

In response to the petition, L.A. admitted the allegations of the petition and the juvenile court ordered she attend school, obey school rules, maintain passing grades and satisfactory citizenship and complete 20 hours of community service. L.A. did not obey the trial court's order and on August 24, 2010, the juvenile court found her in contempt. The juvenile court imposed 12 days of custody as punishment for the contempt, which it found egregious. The juvenile further found that alternatives to custody were considered and found to be ineffective. The juvenile court stayed all 12 days of the custody and again ordered that L.A. attend school, obey school rules and maintain passing grades and satisfactory citizenship.

At a review hearing on October 19, 2010, the juvenile court was advised L.A. was truant for 23 full days out of a total of 27 possible days of school. In response to the report, the juvenile court lifted the stay with respect to six days of custody; the court ordered that L.A. be segregated by sight and sound from section 602 delinquency wards.

Following L.A.'s release from custody, she went to part of one day of class. Over the following 10 months, notwithstanding the attempts of a social services agency, Turning Hearts Center, L.A. refused to attend school. She was provided mental health services, but failed to cooperate with the mental health providers. She was placed in custody again on three additional occasions.

On September 6, 2011, when the juvenile court was advised at a truancy review hearing that L.A. had not re-enrolled in school, the juvenile court lifted the stay with respect to three days of custody it had previously ordered and stayed. L.A. challenged the order by way of the instant petition for a writ of habeas corpus.

2. Michael M.

Between February 28, 2011, and September 6, 2011, the People, by way of a petition and proceedings under sections 601 and 213, made a similar attempt to get petitioner Michael M. to attend school and obey school rules. At the time ...


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