Legislature(1997 - 1998)

05/01/1997 01:07 PM JUD

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
txt
 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.                                   

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