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Name: In re S.S. (2023) 89 Cal.App.5th 1277
Case #: C097055
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 3 DCA
Opinion Date: 03/30/2023
Summary

Minor is entitled to a new transfer/amenability hearing under the current version of Welfare and Institutions Code section 707, which was significantly amended by Assembly Bill No. 2361 (effective 1/1/2023). Following a hearing to transfer S.S. to a court of criminal jurisdiction for allegations including murder, the juvenile court found S.S. unfit to be treated under the juvenile law based on the standards set forth in former section 707 and transferred the case to criminal court. S.S. appealed. Held: Reversed and remanded. AB 2361 amended section 707 to (1) increase the prosecution’s burden from the preponderance of the evidence to clear and convincing and (2) make the question of whether the minor is amenable to rehabilitation while under the jurisdiction of the juvenile court the ultimate question for the juvenile court to decide. Additionally, a statement of reasons supporting the juvenile court’s finding that a minor is not amenable to rehabilitation while under its jurisdiction is now required. The Court of Appeal held that the amended version of section 707 applied retroactively to this case. Under the amended statute, the juvenile court erred in ordering S.S.’s transfer. The Court of Appeal further held that it was reasonably probable the juvenile court would not have ordered S.S.’s transfer under the current version of section 707 given its greater emphasis on rehabilitation. It noted that the “proper analysis of this criterion generally requires ‘expert testimony concerning the programs available, the duration of any of the programs, or whether attendance would rehabilitate [the minor] before termination of the juvenile court’s jurisdiction.’” (Quoting J.N. v. Superior Court (2018) 23 Cal.App.5th 706, 722.) [Editor’s Note: In recent years, some courts referred to section 707 hearings as “transfer hearings.” The Court of Appeal observed that, now that section 707 makes “amenability to rehabilitation” the ultimate determination, “juvenile courts would be better served referring to ‘amenability hearings.’”]

The full opinion is available on the court’s website here: https://www.courts.ca.gov/opinions/documents/C097055.PDF