JUVENILE ADJUDICATIVE COMPETENCE INTERVIEW (JACI)* General Guidance

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1 JUVENILE ADJUDICATIVE COMPETENCE INTERVIEW (JACI)* General Guidance 1. Obtain information about youth s abilities in 12 areas relevant for competence to stand trial. 2. Explore youth s answers and explanations with questions of your choosing, especially when youth s initial responses reflect thinking that may be influenced by immaturity, mental disorder, or poor intellectual functioning. (See comments below on exploring youth s explainations.) 3. Some areas provide questions called Capacity Check, requiring an attempt to teach youth relevant information if they do not seem to understand. The purpose is to determine whether youths might grasp the information explained and can retain it. The following concepts are described in detail in the guide. They are provided here as a summary for clinicians to keep in mind as they interview youths for competency abilities. Items: Items: Designed to help the clinician assess basic knowledge of facts and procedures in the adjudication process in juvenile court (related to factual understanding in the legal standard). Designed to help the clinician assess youths perceptions and beliefs about the implications of the legal concept in question (related to rational understanding in the legal standard). Reasoning Items: Only in Component 11 of the interview. Designed to help the clinician assess decision-making abilities often involved in decisions youths must make in juvenile court. Exploring youths explanations for their answers is important for identifying the reasons for poor understanding or appreciation, especially immaturity. The following is a summary of some manifestations of immaturity that may influence,, and/or Reasoning in some adolescents. These concepts and examples are described in more detail in the guide.! Perceived Autonomy: Youths dependency and the social role of child require a developing sense of one s autonomy as youths mature, before youths can approach decisions as though they actually have a choice and must take independent responsibility for making them. Lack of perceived autonomy is sometimes manifested in passivity, inattention, or simple acquiescence to the desires of authority or to the suggestions of peers.! Perceptions of Risk: Especially at ages 13 to 15, some youths pass through a developmental stage in which they accept negative risks to a greater degree than they did when they were younger or will do when they are older.! Time Perspective: Some adolescents are still developing a sense of time (e.g., what a long time means), the capacity or tendency to consider longer range consequences, or to balance longer term potential losses against shorter term gains.! Abstract/Concrete Thinking: Some adolescents are slow to develop the ability to think abstractly, so that their perceptions and decisions are based on overly concrete ideas. (For example, when asked whether they would plead guilty: I d have to... I did what they said. 1

2 Preliminary: Experience and Legal Context Explore youth s past legal experiences and present legal charges. The following is a suggested set of questions to use in this preliminary part of the Competence Abilities Interview. Is this the first time you ve had to come to juvenile court, or have there been other times? First time: Has the youth been in other people s court hearings or seen courts on television? Explore whether youth has had any experience with lawyers. Other times: Explore for number, how long ago, and nature of charges. Types of contact and what they were like, i.e. only P.O. visit, court hearings? Had a lawyer and, if so, youth s recollection and perception of the lawyer. What is it that the police say you did? Why are you at juvenile court now? Clarity of youth s description: Internal consistency of youth s description: 2

3 (1) Nature and Seriousness of Offense What is the name of the offense you are charged with? The one you just described! Knows offense charged Would people consider that a serious offense or not so serious? Why?! Appreciates degree of seriousness Tell me an offense (or something someone could do) that would be less serious than that. Why? Tell me one that is more serious. Why?! Appreciates degree of seriousness (2) Nature and Purpose of the Juvenile Court Trial When young people are charged with offenses, often they have to go to hearings in the juvenile court, usually before a judge. One of those hearings is called a trial. What happens in a trial in juvenile court? What is the purpose of it?! Knows court (or jury) decides not guilty or guilt, and penalties Imagine (your parents, school principal) calls you in to tell you that you did something wrong. How is that the same or different from a trial in court?! Appreciates some essential difference. For example, court hears evidence; formality; may or may not find guilt; procedure; outcome. (3) Possible Pleas Before a juvenile court trial, defendants are asked whether they plead guilty ( admit to the offense ) or not guilty ( don t admit to the offense ). What does pleading guilty ( admitting to the offense ) mean?! Understands and admits to charges. What will happen at court if you plead guilty? If you plead not guilty?! Appreciates consequences. If you actually did the thing the police say you did, can you plead guilty not guilty? Why (not)?! Appreciates difference between the act and a legal assertion of not guilty. 3

4 (4) Guilt and Punishment / Penalties What things could happen to you if a juvenile court judge found you guilty?! Reasonable examples. What do you think is the worst thing the juvenile court could do if you are found guilty? Why would that be the worst thing?! Appreciates consequences of penalty. What is the worst punishment you parent(s) has ever given you? (answer) Which would you rather have (or Which would be worse): that punishment, or (the court penalty)? Why?! Appreciates consequences of penalty Now, let s talk about some of the people who you might see in a courtroom. One of them is the defendant the person who is charged with the offense. That would be you, if you were to have a trial in court. Here are the other people. (5) Role of the Prosecutor Every juvenile court trial has a prosecutor. What is a prosecutor? What do they do?! Understands adversarial role. At a trial, is the prosecutor more likely to be telling the defendant s view of what happened or the police officers view? Why it that?! Able to apply the adversarial concept. If youth has difficulty understanding/appreciating Prosecutor role, do Capacity Check 1:! Teaching: [Explain to youth that the prosecutor (a) is a lawyer, who (b) tries to prove that the defendant did what is charged, by (c) offering evidence to prove it.]! Now in your own words, what is the job of the prosecutor? 4

5 (6) Role of the Juvenile Defense Lawyer Now let s talk about the defense lawyer in juvenile court. Remember, when you are in court, you are called the defendant. Defendants are allowed to have a lawyer called a defense lawyer. What is a defense lawyer? [What does a defense lawyer do? What s the defense lawyer s job?)! Understands advocacy role. If youth has difficulty understanding Defense Lawyer role, do Capacity Check 2:! Teaching: [Explain to youth that the defense lawyer (a) is a lawyer, who works with the defendant, (b) helps the defendant through the legal process, and (c) takes the defendant s side in court.]! Now in your own words, what is the job of the defense lawyer? What are some ways in which a juvenile defense lawyer might help a defendant?! Answers consistent with counsel as advocate Imagine that your defense lawyer said to you, I want you to tell me what happened the night you were arrested. Why would the lawyer want to know that?! Appreciates use of the information to assist in defense, not to incriminate. (7) Role of the Probation Officer Do you have a juvenile probation officer? What does the probation officer do?! Understands P.O. s case management role. In a trial, how would your probation officer be different from your lawyer?! Appreciates differences in advocacy role. 5

6 (8) Role of the Juvenile Court Judge Every juvenile court has a judge. What is a judge? [What does a judge do?]! Understands judge hears evidence and decides case and penalties. How is the judge different from the prosecutor and the defense attorney?! Appreciates impartiality and ultimate authority of judge. When you first come to court and you walk in the courtroom, will the judge know whether you are guilty or not? Why! Appreciates judge hears evidence in order to decide guilt/innocence. In juvenile court, if the judge said you must tell the court whether or not you did what the police said you did, what would you do? Why?! Appreciates judge cannot order defendants to testify against themselves. (9) Assisting the Defense Attorney Defense lawyers and the people they defend have to work together. The defense lawyer helps the defendant, but the defendant has to work with the lawyer for that to happen. Do you have a lawyer? Who is that? What are some things you might do in order to help your lawyer to defend you?! Understands role of defendant in collaborating with lawyer. Imagine a defendant just didn t want to talk to his/her lawyer. Why could that be a problem?! Appreciates defendant as source of information for lawyer and defense. 6

7 Have you had a lawyer in the past? What did you think of him/her and how they helped you? What do you think of the lawyer you have now? (10) Plea Bargains / Agreements Sometimes defendants in juvenile court have to make decisions about plea bargains/agreements. What is a plea bargain / agreement?! Understands the idea of getting potentially less penalty in return for a guilty plea. If youth has difficulty understanding Plea Bargain, do Capacity Check 3:! Teaching: [Explain to youth that this involves a prosecutor telling the defendant s lawyer that if the defendant will plead guilty, (a) the prosecutor will do something good in return, like agree to a lighter punishment, and (b) there will not be a trial... the defendant will be found guilty. If defendant turns down the offer, there is a trial and the prosecutor will try to prove guilt, which could lead to a heavier punishment.]! Now in your own words, what de we mean by a plea bargain? Why is turning down a plea bargain sort of like gambling or taking a chance?! Appreciates the risk involved. Why might a prosecutor offer a lighter sentence if you plead guilty?! Appreciates the nature of a trade-off (bargaining). 7

8 Clinician s Discretion: Youths whose understanding is very poor on this point often will not grasp the basic concepts needed for Reasoning and Decision Making. Therefore, clinicians may use their judgement in such cases in determining whether the following section is relevant to administer. (11) Reasoning and Decision Making For the following explore and consider: autonomy/cquiescence, risk perception, time perspective/future orientation, concrete/abstract thinking. The purpose of this inquiry is not to determine what the youth would choose, but rather to discover the way the youth reasons about the choice (see concepts above) When young people are preparing for their trials in juvenile court, often they have to make decisions. Let s talk about some of those decisions. 11-A. Deciding about having a lawyer (not applicable in Arizona) 11-B. Deciding how to assist your lawyer Sometime defendants have to decide what they need to tell their lawyers. 1. Can you think of anything that you might not want to tell a defense lawyer? Why? 2. Imagine that you and a friend did something wrong and you got arrested for it. You might wonder whether to tell the lawyer that your friend was involved and what your friend did. What would be some reasons that you might want to tell the lawyer that? 11-C. Deciding how to plead Let s imagine that you actually did what the police said you did. The juvenile court judge askes you whether you want to plead guilty or not guilty. 1. What do you think you might decide to do: plead guilty or not guilty? 2. What would be the main reason you d do that? 11-D. Deciding about a plea bargain (Charges, possible dispositions, and consequences in the following vignette should be tailored to the circumstances of the youth.) Let s pretend that you are being offered a plea bargain. (Explain to the youth that this is not for real, just pretending. ). You are being held in a detention center until your case is decided. Your lawyer comes to you and says that the prosecutor has offered a deal in your case. Here s the deal. 8

9 If you agree to plead guilty to, the prosecutor will agree to probation for months and everything will be over... you can go home. While you are on probation, if you do something wrong again, you will be sent to Adobe Mountain. Or you can choose not to take the deal, plead not guilty, and take the case to trial. Let s say your lawyer tells you there is a pretty good chance you could be found not guilty and not have any punishment. But your lawyer says that she can t promise that will happen. Also, it will take some time... several months... before the judge can schedule a trial, and you ll be indetention during that time. 1. What do you think you would decide to do: Take the deal or not? 2. What s the main reason you would decide to do that? Now, let s pretend the situation is a little different. The prosecutor offers the same deal if you agree to plead guilty to, the prosecutor will agree to probation for months and everything will be over... you can go home. But your lawyer says that you probably have just a chance of winning a trial. 1. What do you think you would decide to do? 2. What s the main reason you would decide to do that? 9

10 Re-Testing for Retention The final part of the interview involves returning to any and all of the three Capacity Check items that needed to be administered to the youth (this might be 1, 2, 3, or none depending on whether the youth needed to be taught any of these during the interview.) The purpose is to determine whether the youth s understanding has been retained across the length of the assessment. This helps one to determine whether the youth can benefit by being taught concepts that he or she does not at first understand. It is recommended that this process be repeated at a subsequent interview, a few days after the original interview, in order to determine whether the youth has retained understanding of the information. For each Capacity Check item that needed to be given, repeat the Capacity Check question (but not the teaching portion). 1. Item: 2. Item: 3. Item: (12) Participating at Juvenile Court Hearing No interview questions are necessary for this section. Based on general observations of the youth s behavior, emotional status, and verbal ability, the examiner may make notes in the following categories regarding the youth s potential for participating in his/her hearing. 1. Ability to attend to events in the hearing: 2. Ability to maintain self-control during the hearing (inhibit outbursts, or other impulsive or inappropriate behaviors): 3. Ability to testify (consider verbal abilities, responding logically or relevantly to questions, withstanding emotional impact of public testimony): 10

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