IN THE INTEREST OF D.C., Minor Child, D.C., Appellant.
from the Iowa District Court for Jasper County, Steven J.
Holwerda, District Associate Judge.
challenges the revocation of a consent decree and delinquency
Christopher A. Clausen of Clausen Law Office, Ames, for
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Mary A. Triick, Assistant
Attorney General, for appellee State.
Considered by Danilson, C.J., and Mullins and McDonald, JJ.
appeal involves two delinquency proceedings. In the first
proceeding, D.C. was charged with theft in the second degree.
His appointed counsel in the case was attorney Christopher
Clausen. In December 2016, the juvenile court entered a
consent decree and placed the child under the supervision of
the juvenile court officer. The district court was initially
reluctant to grant the consent decree because of the
child's delinquency history. Ultimately, the court
granted the consent decree because the court did not want to
unduly punish the child when it was D.C.'s parents who
used their "children as pawns" to operate a
"theft ring" so "the parents will avoid
culpability and the children will be treated as children and
only get their hands slapped." In February 2017, the
juvenile court officer filed an application to revoke the
consent decree when the child was accused of theft from a
local grocery store after a police officer found stolen items
in D.C.'s backpack. The grocery-store theft led to the
filing of the second delinquency proceeding at issue in this
appeal. The second delinquency petition alleged D.C.
committed theft in the fifth degree.
Clausen was not initially appointed as D.C.'s counsel in
the second delinquency proceeding, he acted as D.C.'s
counsel in both the revocation case and the new case. For
example, on February 22, the juvenile court granted
Clausen's motion to continue the revocation hearing. On
March 9, the juvenile court entered an order continuing both
cases and identified Clausen at the child's attorney. On
March 31, the juvenile court, upon agreement of the parties,
again continued the revocation and adjudication hearings.
revocation and adjudication hearings were held on April 13.
At that time, Clausen notified the court he had not been
formally appointed in the new case because the parents had
not yet filed an application for appointment of counsel. He
asked for a brief recess to allow the parents to complete the
necessary forms. The juvenile court stated the parents could
complete the forms after the hearing and the court would
"make the appointments retroactive." Clausen
responded that would be fine and he was ready to proceed.
Clausen told the juvenile court he was aware of the facts in
both cases, stating, "I'm not at a disadvantage in
terms of knowing the facts and being able to proceed."
On that basis, the juvenile court proceeded with the hearing.
Clausen then moved to continue the adjudication hearing after
the close of the State's evidence:
I would ask the court for a continuance, so that I may get
copies of the statements that the officer referenced. I have
a potential witness, including the parents, who think there
may be a statement in there that they can disprove. And,
also, I would like an opportunity to look into the backpack
issue a little further, and it seems to me that might have
been an appropriate issue for a motion to suppress.
juvenile court denied the motion to continue, and D.C.
presented his case. The juvenile court adjudicated D.C.
delinquent on the new theft charge. The court continued the
revocation hearing to a later date to coincide with
disposition on the delinquency adjudication. The juvenile
court also entered an order appointing Clausen as counsel in
the new case.
several continuances, the juvenile court held a combined
disposition and revocation hearing. The juvenile court
revoked the consent decree and adjudicated D.C. delinquent on
the charges of theft in the second degree and theft in the
raises several claims of error related to both proceedings.
Iowa juvenile delinquency proceedings are not criminal
prosecutions but are special proceedings that provide an
ameliorative alternative to the criminal prosecution of
children. See In re J.A.L., 694 N.W.2d 748, 751
(Iowa 2005). Generally, our review of juvenile delinquency
proceedings is de novo. See In re C.L.C., Jr., 798
N.W.2d 329, 334-35 (Iowa Ct. App. 2011). Still, we review
subsidiary motions such as the denial of a motion to continue
and motion for new trial for an abuse of discretion. See
id; see also Jack v. Booth, 858 N.W.2d 711, 718
(Iowa 2015) (motion for new trial); State v. Artzer,
609 N.W.2d 526, 529 (Iowa 2000) (motion for continuance);
In re K.M., No. 16-0778, 2016 WL 4379361, at *1
(Iowa Ct. App. Aug. 17, 2016) (acknowledging in other
juvenile adjudications we "review subsidiary rulings for
an abuse of discretion").
first claim of error, D.C. contends the district court abused
its discretion is denying his mid-hearing motion to continue.
A motion to continue "shall not be granted except for
good cause." Iowa R. Juv. P. 8.5. "The decision to
grant or deny a motion for continuance rests in the sound
discretion of the trial judge." See Artzer, 609
N.W.2d at 530. ...