In re Cecilia R.

36 N.Y.2d 317, 327 N.E.2d 812, 367 N.Y.S.2d 770 (1975)

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In re Cecilia R.

New York Court of Appeals
36 N.Y.2d 317, 327 N.E.2d 812, 367 N.Y.S.2d 770 (1975)

Facts

In New York State, juvenile courts could designate a wayward child as a person in need of supervision (PINS). If a government agency (plaintiff) filed a petition to designate a juvenile as a PINS, the court heard evidence and determined whether to apply the designation. After that hearing, there was a dispositional hearing to determine the appropriate placement for the PINS to receive treatment and rehabilitation. Placement in a private facility was preferable to placement in the state juvenile facility because private facilities provided treatment and some amount of freedom, while the state juvenile facility was more akin to a penal facility. A government agency filed a PINS petition concerning 13-year-old Cecilia R. (defendant) as a PINS because her foster family could not control her. The court found that Cecilia was a PINS and remanded her to a detention facility until the dispositional hearing, at which the court would announce its ruling as to Cecilia’s placement. When the hearing began, the court was informed that Cecilia was in the hallway outside the courtroom, but the court did not call Cecilia to come in, and the court began the hearing without her. Cecilia’s probation officer explained that because of Cecilia’s behavior, all the potential private facilities had declined to accommodate Cecilia. The probation officer recommended Cecilia’s placement in the state juvenile facility. A social worker testified that Cecilia’s behavior was a normal response to family difficulties and that one of the private facilities had rejected Cecilia because of a wrongful suspicion of drug abuse. After discussions between the court, the law guardian, and Cecilia’s mother, the court asked Cecilia to enter the hearing. The court then announced that Cecilia was ordered to be placed in the state juvenile facility. Cecilia appealed, arguing that the court deprived her of her due-process rights because except for announcing its ruling, the court held the hearing in Cecilia’s absence.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Fuchsberg, J.)

Dissent (Jasen, J.)

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