Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Nebraska Court of Appeals rules that courts hearing juvenile cases have authority to control juveniles' placement with social service agencies, including personnel assignments; Court dismisses State's contention that court "micromanagement" violated state constitution separation of powers In re Interest of Veronica H., 14 Neb. App. 316 Filed December 13, 2005. No. A-05-425 Nebraska Court of Appeals (J. Inbody) rules that Juvenile court has authority to control support personnel who handle state wards, citing recent statutory amendment purporting to allow it, in this case ordering the State to assign a social service worker who was more experienced handling incest victims:

" The phrase "by and with the assent of the court," which the Legislature elected to add to the language in Neb. Rev. Stat. § 43-285(1) (Reissue 2004), clearly gives the court the power to assent and, by implication, to dissent from the placement and other decisions of the Department of Health and Human Services, as well as of other entities to whom the court might commit the care of a minor. "

Court of appeals rejects overly technical interpretation of separation of powers, especially in the juvenile justice context (I didnt know there was a division of roles there anyway):
"separation of powers was not designed to achieve a complete divorce among the three branches of government, nor does it require governmental powers to be divided into rigid, mutually exclusive compartments. . . . When the legislature creates a statute that contemplates an interplay between the courts and the executive branch, court orders directing the actions of the executive agencies do not violate the doctrine of the separation of powers"
citing In re K.C., 325 Ill. App. 3d 771, 759 N.E.2d 15, 259 Ill. Dec. 535 (2001) Finally the Court of Appeals decides that even if it was wrong about the separation of powers, no party brought it to its attention on time. Query Will the Courts be as cost and benefit sensitive as the State when it comes to assigning personnel to cases that the courts think will require specialized personnel?

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