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In re T.H.

Court of Appeal of Iowa

September 5, 2013

IN THE INTEREST OF T.H., Minor Child.

Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Colin J. Witt, District Associate Judge.

A teenager appeals a juvenile court order adjudicating him a delinquent, contending the court abused its discretion in failing to suspend the adjudication and enter a consent decree.

Jane M. White of Jane M. White Law Office, Des Moines, for appellant.

Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, Bruce Kempkes, Assistant Attorney General, John P. Sarcone, County Attorney, and Michelle Chenoweth, Assistant County Attorney, for appellee State.

Considered by Eisenhauer, C.J., and Vaitheswaran and Doyle, JJ.

VAITHESWARAN, J.

A teenager appeals a juvenile court order adjudicating him a delinquent. He contends the court abused its discretion in failing to suspend the adjudication and enter a consent decree.

I. Background Proceedings

T.H. was the subject of a child-in-need-of-assistance proceeding initiated when he was a toddler. Both his parents' rights were terminated. Following termination, T.H. was placed in the custody of the Department of Human Services and spent time in various foster homes and residential facilities. The department retained custody, and T.H. remained a child-in-need-of-assistance.

When T.H. was fourteen, the State filed delinquency petitions alleging he committed four counts of assault against employees of the Iowa Juvenile Home where he was living. T.H. admitted to three of the assaults and, at his request, adjudication on the petitions was withheld.

At a subsequent dispositional hearing, T.H.'s attorney asked the juvenile court to withhold adjudication and enter a consent decree. The assistant county attorney said she did not object, if that was what the court wished to do.

The court did not enter a consent decree. The judge stated he had reviewed a recent Iowa Court of Appeals opinion, State v. Iowa Dist. Ct., No. 11-2031, 2012 WL 2122619 (Iowa Ct. App. June 13, 2012), and "after such review in light of facts of this case, . . . determined he did not have authority to enter consent decree in this case." The court filed a delinquency disposition order adjudicating T.H. a delinquent. T.H. appealed.

II. Analysis

T.H. contends that the juvenile court abused its discretion in refusing to enter a consent decree pursuant to Iowa Code section 232.46(1) (2011). ...


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