Legislature(1997 - 1998)
05/01/1997 01:07 PM JUD
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
CSSB 3(JUD) - MINOR'S CURFEW VIOLATIONS [Contains discussion of HB 16 following number 0903] TAPE 97-75, SIDE A Number 0006 CHAIRMAN GREEN announced the next item of business was CS for Senate Bill No. 3(JUD), "An Act authorizing prosecution and trial in the district court of municipal curfew violations, and providing for punishment of minors upon conviction for violation of a curfew ordinance." It had been heard previously by the committee. MYRNA MAYNARD, Legislative Administrative Assistant to Senator Drue Pearce, came forward on behalf of the sponsor. With her was Jack Chenoweth of Legislative Legal Services, to whom she had provided what she thought was Representative Porter's concern. Mr. Chenoweth had come up with an amendment (0-LS0078\E.1), which was in committee packets. However, this amendment would necessitate a concurrent resolution because it changes the title. She asked whether Representative Porter had read the amendment. REPRESENTATIVE PORTER said no. MS. MAYNARD said she wasn't sure it did what Representative Porter wanted to do. REPRESENTATIVE BUNDE requested confirmation that if they adopted this amendment, a municipality might establish its own ordinance to charge parents with being a part of this curfew violation but that this law would not require that a municipality do so. Number 0178 ANNE CARPENETI, Assistant Attorney General, Legal Services Section, Criminal Division, Department of Law, said she had not had much chance to read it but thought it was optional. REPRESENTATIVE BUNDE and CHAIRMAN GREEN noted that Mr. Chenoweth, the author, was agreeing. REPRESENTATIVE BUNDE said he'd wanted to clarify that they weren't going to establish a law that would require parents to be arrested; however, if a municipality felt this was a problem and would like to follow up Representative Porter's concern about involving parents, a concern which he himself shared, a municipality could write an ordinance to achieve that. REPRESENTATIVE PORTER pointed out there was a second alternative, which he believed Ms. Carpeneti was prepared to explain. Number 0335 MS. CARPENETI said she'd been asked to find out what happens to parents if they don't show up. She'd spoken with Judge Froehlich in Juneau, who handles these cases that go directly to district court and not through the Division of Family and Youth Services (DFYS); those are minor consuming cases, tobacco cases and various traffic offenses. The law requires parents to accompany their children presently. Judge Froehlich told Ms. Carpeneti that parents generally do show up with their kids, and if they don't, a summons is issued. It is served by the Judicial Services; they generally call the parents and ask whether they want to be served personally or to pick up the summons at the courthouse, in person. CHAIRMAN GREEN stated his understanding that it isn't "a contempt" if they don't show up but that a summons is issued. MS. CARPENETI responded, "If they don't show up. I assume at a certain point, if they are served with a summons and they don't show up, then maybe an order -- and Judge Froehlich told me that only once has he had to issue an order to show cause why a parent could not be held in contempt for not showing up." REPRESENTATIVE BUNDE asked whether they were doing this based on state law or local ordinance. MS. CARPENETI said state law. REPRESENTATIVE BUNDE asked: And this summons is issued after the young person has failed to respond to a summons? MS. CARPENETI stated her belief that a summons is issued, before the first appearance, to the parents too. REPRESENTATIVE BUNDE asked whether the summons for the young person and the summons for the parent are issued concurrently. MS. CARPENETI replied, "I assume if the person is cited for an offense, then that contains the summons, and then they issue a summons for the parent separately." She had spoken with Doug Wooliver of the Alaska Court System, who had checked that morning with the Anchorage court system. She explained that the people in the court system are the ones who know, because the state doesn't appear on these cases, nor does DFYS. Mr. Wooliver had told her that they do require in Anchorage that the parents show up, and if they don't, they issue a summons for them to come in. Number 0515 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER asked what the bill does, then, in context of the existing system. JACK CHENOWETH, Attorney, Legislative Legal and Research Services, Legislative Affairs Agency, explained that the sponsor had asked that the provision for violation of a curfew be added to the list of offenses for which a minor can be prosecuted in district court. In Anchorage, much of the handling of these relatively low-level offenses is through a civil or administrative process that Anchorage takes advantage of under the municipal code; therefore, an exception had to be built in for that. As the bill moved along, provision was made for a fine of not more than $250 and the ability to satisfy that fine through a community work provision, all added by the Senate Judiciary Committee. Number 0609 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER asked whether it allows a juvenile case that would have been handled in "Juneau court" to go to district court. MR. CHENOWETH said the statutory law today simply authorizes a municipality to adopt curfew ordinances. He explained, "The question, I guess, in the sponsor's mind is: Where do these go? How are these to be handled? And in the absence of anything else, I assume that they would be handled through the juvenile adjudication and delinquency process, because there would be no exception made for them for a criminal hearing. So, the sponsor's approach was to move them out from under the adjudication- delinquency 47.12 provisions and over into the criminal side, with jurisdiction assigned in the district court. And we've kind of gone on from there." Number 0671 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER asked who is requesting this. MS. MAYNARD said it came about because the City and Borough of Juneau wanted a curfew ordinance. Only through the DFYS or superior court could those cases be handled. However, the DFYS is overloaded, and Juneau didn't do a curfew ordinance because there is no point when kids know nothing will happen if they break curfew. REPRESENTATIVE PORTER asked Ms. Carpeneti to stop him if he got off track, then stated his understanding that the other alternative would allow these to go through the civil side, such as with the programs in Anchorage for this kind of an offense. He suggested Juneau is asking to take an area of violation that the DFYS doesn't have time to handle and put it into the district court, which doesn't have time to handle it. MS. MAYNARD said she'd also spoken to Judge Froehlich, who likes this bill. He has a Friday court for juvenile offenses dealing with tobacco, alcohol, and so forth. He feels that his caseload will not increase all that much, because of the kids that are drinking and speeding, for example, 75 percent will be the same ones. She added that the bill does not change what Anchorage is doing now. Number 0828 REPRESENTATIVE CROFT asked why Juneau cannot do whatever Anchorage is doing. MR. CHENOWETH said there is no good reason. His sense is that Anchorage has the advantage of a population size that will support that kind of administrative arrangement; that may not be as possible or desirable in Juneau, which is one-tenth the size. REPRESENTATIVE CROFT asked how Anchorage handles this. Number 0903 MARGOT KNUTH, Assistant Attorney General, Criminal Division, Department of Law, specified she was representing the Governor's Children's Cabinet on youth and justice initiatives. The procedure used by the Municipality of Anchorage in curfew matters is one of the models this Administration raises to the rest of the state for effective intervention with at-risk juveniles, including curfew violators. Anchorage had adopted a system whereby the juvenile is summonsed to appear before a hearing officer who is acting as a judge. The civil penalties available don't include detention, nor is there a criminal record. But short of that, there is a mechanism for a fine or community work service in lieu of it. MS. KNUTH said HB 16 includes provisions that would encourage other cities and municipalities to adopt similar programs. Criminalizing curfew violations is inconsistent with the direction the Administration is trying to move. Instead of being serious offenders, these are kids at risk of becoming criminals. What is appropriate is intervention, rather than prosecution. MS. KNUTH continued, "We did ask the sponsor of the bill if she would include the Governor's initiatives in this area, and she's been reluctant to do so to this point. And there's some philosophical disagreements that people have on how to relate to at-risk youth. And, frankly, Judge Froehlich is pretty much a one- man crusade in this state. He's the only judge I know who is putting kids in detention on tobacco violations, and Johnson Center is seriously overcrowded. There's a difference of opinion on whether that is an appropriate disposition for those cases." MS. KNUTH said Juneau could adopt the same "hearing officer diversion system" that is working well in Anchorage. She noted that Anchorage has no intention of utilizing this if it passes. The prosecuting attorney there does not want to do a bunch of curfew violations; their resources are strapped already. Number 1069 CHAIRMAN GREEN asked whether Ms. Knuth knew of municipalities other than Anchorage or Juneau having curfew laws that this would affect. MS. KNUTH did not know how many municipalities had adopted curfew ordinances, although she believed Fairbanks had done so. She noted that HB 16 was coming to this committee soon. She suggested it might afford the committee an opportunity to review the array of options available to respond to this level of offense. CHAIRMAN GREEN asked whether there was any objection to holding this over and looking at HB 16 as well; he then announced they would revisit SB 3 when they take up HB 16.