There's No Place like Home: The Availability of Judicial Review over Certification Decisions Invoking Federal Jurisdiction under the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act

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I. INTRODUCTION ...................................................................... 1311

II. THE FEDERAL RELATIONSHIP WITH THE JUVENILE

JUSTICE SYSTEM ................................................................... 1313

III. APPELLATE DECISIONS REGARDING JUDICIAL REVIEW OF

CERTIFICATION...................................................................... 1320

A. The Majority.............................................................. 1322

B. The Minority........................................................,.. 1326

C. Between the Extremes................................................ 1328

IV. JUVENILES' STATUTORY INTEREST

IN PATICIPATING IN STATE SYSTEMS .................................... 1331

A. Federal Legislation Before JJDPA ........................... 1333

B. Recasting the Federal Prosecutorial Role ................. 1334

C. Reinforcing the New Statutory Benefit ..................... 1337

D. The Effects of Subsequent Legislation ...................... 1341

V. DUE PROCESS: THE SOURCE FOR THE REQUIREMENT OF

JUDICIAL REVIEW. ................................................................. 1343

VI. CONCLUSION ......................................................................... 1351

I. INTRODUCTION

During the latter half of the twentieth century, society's perception of juvenile delinquents changed dramatically.' Once fairly characterized as "immature kids who might get arrested for truancy, shoplifting or joy riding," juvenile offenders have recently earned reputations as vicious criminals regularly committing such serious offenses as robbery, rape, and murder.2 This apparent trend toward increased violence has resulted in a "get tough" approach to federal juvenile justice policies.3 Accordingly, Congress has expanded the federal government's ability to prosecute certain juvenile offenders by broadening the scope of federal jurisdiction.4

The Comprehensive Crime Control Act of 1984, for example, authorizes federal prosecution of juveniles for certain violent crimes and serious drug offenses.5 Most of these juvenile offenders had previously fallen under the exclusive jurisdiction of state authorities.6 The Crime Control Act, however, permits federal prosecution whenever the Attorney General issues a certification that the case holds "a substantial [f]ederal interest "7 This gateway provision enables federal prosecutors to deny juvenile offenders participation in state juvenile justice systems. The certification option thus gives federal officials the power to strip federal juvenile offenders of the potential benefits of participating in the states' comprehensive systems of rehabilitative programs.8

Despite the potentially serious consequences for juveniles, many circuit courts of appeals have held that the substantive aspects of certification decisions remain within the discretion of the Attorney General and are therefore judicially unreviewable.9 A few circuits, however, allow varying degrees of judicial review over federal prosecutors' substantive decisions regarding certification.10 This Note considers the merits of these decisions and proposes an alternative analysis emphasizing the necessity of judicial review. Part II discusses the historical development of the federal government's relationship with the juvenile justice system, a relationship culminating in the presumption in favor of state jurisdiction established in the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act.11 Part III analyzes the various circuit court decisions addressing whether the judiciary should review the Attorney General's certification that certain juvenile cases meet the criteria necessary to overcome this presumption. Part IV discusses juveniles' statutory interest in participating in state juvenile justice systems, an interest given inadequate consideration by the circuit courts. …