In re DIEHL, Minor.
T J DIEHL, Respondent-Appellee. PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF MICHIGAN, Petitioner-Appellant,
Oakland Circuit Court Family Division LC No. 2017-855352-DL
Before: Borrello, P.J., and K. F. Kelly and Servitto, JJ.
prosecution appeals as of right the trial court's order
"unauthorizing" two juvenile delinquency petitions,
alleging that respondent committed domestic violence, MCL
750.81(2), and larceny in a building, MCL 750.360-both of
which are offenses defined in section 31(1)(g) of the Crime
Victim's Rights Act (CVRA), MCL 780.781, et
seq.-and removing those petitions from the adjudicative
process. We affirm the trial court's order, but remand
this case to the trial court to complete the ministerial
tasks of (1) assigning separate petition numbers to each of
respondent's three juvenile delinquency petitions, and
(2) placing the separate petition numbers on all documents
within respondent's case file that are related to each
case arises out of three juvenile delinquency petitions
issued by the prosecution against respondent. The first
petition, dated July 24, 2017, alleged that respondent
committed domestic violence against his adoptive mother,
Diehl. Specifically, respondent was then 12-years old and had
resided with Diehl since he was eight years of age. On July
23, 2017, respondent's biological sister was visiting the
family, but abruptly decided to end her visit. This caused
respondent to scream at his sister, but respondent's
brother called from California and was able to calm
respondent down. Hours later, respondent wanted to read the
newspaper, but Diehl told him that it was time to go to
sleep. This caused respondent to become enraged, and he began
to throw objects. Diehl went outside and called 911. The
police photographed injuries to Diehl, but she attributed her
bruises to a prior fall and an unspecified medical condition.
Moreover, she opined that respondent did not intend to throw
objects at her. The first petition was authorized after a
preliminary hearing,  and respondent was released into
Diehl's custody with the condition that Diehl arrange
counseling for respondent.
days after respondent was released into Diehl's custody,
however, a second petition dated July 26, 2017, issued,
alleging that respondent committed another act of domestic
violence against Diehl. Specifically, the
police were called by Diehl's neighbor who
reported that respondent struck Diehl, causing her to fall to
the ground and then continued to kick her. Diehl reportedly
told the officers that respondent was agitated about
attending court-ordered therapy and began to swing a bag.
Although she denied being punched, Diehl reportedly admitted
to the responding officers that respondent pushed her,
causing her to fall to the ground. Following this preliminary
hearing, the second petition was authorized. With regard to
placement, it was noted that respondent was a good student
with no disciplinary issues at school. It was determined that
respondent would remain in custody until a pre-trial was
held. Pursuant to respondent's judge demand, the case was
assigned to Oakland County Family Court Judge Victoria
Valentine for its duration.
August 8, 2017, a hearing was held before Judge Valentine.
Respondent entered a plea of no contest to the domestic
violence charge in the first petition. Respondent did
not enter a plea to the domestic violence charge in the
second petition at that time. With regard to the second
petition, it was requested that the matter be set for trial
with discovery occurring in the interim. Respondent's
counsel requested that "the prosecutor . . . consider
dismissing the second [petition] since the Court will already
have jurisdiction after you accept the plea." The
prosecutor agreed that he would send respondent's counsel
the necessary discovery and contemplate the dismissal of the
second petition. When addressing services, Louise Strehl of
Casework Services,  requested an evaluation before respondent
was returned home because of the volatile relationship with
his mother. Diehl preferred to bring respondent home and get
him help and therapy, "not jail." She stated that
respondent "was a little boy who has spent half of his
life being abused, and something set him off that weekend, .
. . [b]ut before that, he had never had an incident."
Diehl further stated that although respondent had been
opposed to therapy, his time spent at Children's Village
caused him to realize the importance of it. The trial court
ordered placement to continue at Children's Village with
a psychological evaluation to occur within seven days.
September 1, 2017, a disposition hearing was conducted on the
first petition. At the hearing, respondent's counsel
expressed that, despite his 40 years of practice, he
"was appalled and beyond angry" to learn of
"what took place when [respondent] lived with his
biological parents." Although respondent had the right
to be angry, he had learned of the need to find methods to
address his anger. Respondent's counsel again asked the
prosecutor to consider dropping the second petition, but
acknowledged "that's a prosecutorial decision."
The prosecutor agreed to discuss the second petition, but
first addressed his reservations regarding the recommendation
by Casework Services. Specifically, he requested an
adjournment of disposition to allow the out-of-home screening
committee to evaluate the case in light of the prior violence
in the home and questioned whether Diehl would report the
violence if it recurred. Strehl, of Casework Services, stated
that if she felt the case needed to be presented to the
committee, she would have done so. Strehl opined that
supervising respondent in the community would allow her the
opportunity to understand the relationship between him and
Diehl, and she would report her concerns to the court and the
committee if necessary. With respondent scheduled to start
school, Strehl would engage in community monitoring by
meeting with the school's social worker and counselor as
well as monitor respondent's therapy to learn of signs of
trouble in the family home. Respondent's medication had
been changed while he was placed in Children's Village,
yet he had not required recent physical management there.
Strehl credited respondent's lack of physical
involvement, noting that Children's Village was a
stressful environment and children would incite others to get
also offered that respondent's violent reaction was
triggered by his sister who mentioned that parents could
rescind an adoption and that caused him to fear it would
happen to him. She assured the court that resources,
including therapy, were in place to prevent an incident of
that magnitude from recurring, and she would comply with any
court orders. In response to questioning by the court,
respondent indicated that he would deal with anger in a
different way, by using a stress ball or coloring, and he now
wanted to attend counseling. Respondent stated that Diehl
taught him math at a twelfth grade level even though he was
only in seventh grade, and he would like to be an engineer.
The court adopted the recommendation for standard probation,
attend counseling, attend school, remain on prescription
medication, and release to
The prosecutor never stated his position on the record
regarding the second petition. However, the trial court
addressed it by stating, "With regard to his additional
charge, I'll allow you to determine how you're going
to handle that, if you want that in a place for safeguarding
any additional behavior. I'm going to allow the child to
be released." The prosecutor offered to schedule a
review on this case on the date scheduled for the trial on
the second petition. Further, the prosecutor agreed to
provide any video or audio recordings made by the responding
police officers to the alleged act of domestic violence that
was the subject of the second petition.
on probation, a third petition, dated January 19, 2018, was
issued, alleging that respondent committed larceny in a
building by stealing money from a school teacher's purse
in November 2017. This third petition was authorized after a
preliminary inquiry hearing.
January 30, 2018, the hearing commenced with the
representation that respondent was prepared to enter a plea
of no contest to the domestic violence offense raised in the
second petition, as well as the larceny in a building offense
delineated in the third petition. Prior to the taking of the
plea, the prosecutor and Strehl discussed the services that
should be imposed. Strehl learned from respondent's
therapist that he was starting to address the trauma that
occurred when he was younger, and the therapist wrote a
letter forewarning that respondent may begin to react or act
out because of the work occurring in therapy. Consequently,
Strehl forwarded the letter to the trial court and
recommended intensive probation oversight.
trial court advised respondent of the consequences of the
plea and initially accepted it. However, respondent's
counsel asked to approach the bench and a six-minute sidebar
conference occurred off the record. After the sidebar, the trial
court reconsidered its decision, took respondent's plea
"under advisement, " and set the matter for review
a few months later.
trial court placed its rationale for rejecting the plea on
the record as follows:
The Court: So, I'm going to hold your
disposition for - - when is it? April 24th, 2018,
at 1:30. Okay.
And [respondent], let me tell you why. I've read the
reasons why you took the money. And you were trying to help
another child who was starving. And with regard to the
alleged domestic violence here, we've gone through the
issues with regard to your history and your past. And upon
speaking with both the - - all counsel here, it's
indicated that my - - I can't give more probation or more
services to you than you have right now even if I sentence
you in a disposition.
And so, I'm going to hold everything under advisement,
we're going to send it to committee to see what a
recommendation would be, and I'll determine whether or
not I'm going to proceed with the accepting [of] your
plea or not, okay?
[Respondent]: Yes, Your Honor.
The Court: So, I need you to understand a couple
things. We're all here to help you, okay? You had a tough
past, okay? But now you have a really good future. You need
to trust your mom, you need to let your mom help you, you
need to talk to your therapist, and you need to work through
all these issues without any violence, okay, and with doing
the right thing all the time. If you would have told somebody
in the office that the kid didn't have lunch money, I bet
you someone would have gave him some lunch money, okay?
Without you having to go take it out of someone's purse,
[Respondent]: Yes, Your Honor.
The Court: Okay. So, you know if your intention is
to be goodhearted, that's great; you have to do it the
[Respondent]: Yes, Your Honor.
April 24, 2018, the hearing commenced with a summation by
Strehl of Caseworker Services. She noted that the petitions
for the second domestic violence and the larceny in a
building needed to be addressed or adjourned.
Strehl stated that the larceny in a building arose from
respondent's theft of money from a teacher to feed his
hungry friend. Despite these new allegations, the
recommendation of probation remained the same, but Strehl
imposed consequences for the second domestic violence
petition, police contact at the family home, and third
petition for larceny in a building. Despite his birthday,
respondent was required to attend and complete mid-course
corrections, a program where he learned to be respectful,
honorable, and accept his mistakes. Additionally, he
completed an honors program where the staff commented on his
remarkable job despite his young age. Respondent continued to
participate in therapy. Therefore, Strehl recommended that
respondent continue with standard probation.
Strehl summarized the current status of the petitions, the
new prosecutor asked, "If someone could help me as to -
- so I understand the procedure where we're at." The
trial court advised that respondent's plea was not
accepted and disposition had not occurred. The prosecutor
requested that the plea be accepted, but the court denied the
request. The following transpired on the record:
The Court: I'm going to allow him on the path
that he's on. My indication from Miss Strehl at the time
was that he wouldn't be doing anything different as far
as services, his services remain the same.
He is among the youngest children that I have in front of me.
Giving him two additional charges is just stacking a
child's juvenile record. And so, I am holding everything
in abeyance and having him get through all of his services,
trying to get him on the right path. His history is - -
I'm not sure if you know about it. Do you know about his
[The Prosecutor]: No.
The Court: Okay. His history is that he's been
recently adopted. He had quite a horrific childhood for six
years. And I think he's got to work through some of his
problems. And I want to make sure we're getting him the
best treatment. And I don't think that giving him a ...