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State in Interest of J.F.

December 22, 1995

STATE OF NEW JERSEY IN THE INTEREST OF J.F., JUVENILE-APPELLANT.


On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Hudson County.

Approved for Publication December 22, 1995.

Before Judges Havey, Conley & Braithwaite. The opinion of the court was delivered by Conley, J.A.D.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Conley

The opinion of the court was delivered by CONLEY, J.A.D.

Following a non-jury trial, J.F. was adjudicated a delinquent based upon the trial court's determination that he had engaged in conduct that, if committed by an adult, would constitute aggravated arson, N.J.S.A. 2C:17-1a, and conspiracy to commit aggravated arson, N.J.S.A. 2C:5-2. An indeterminate term not to exceed one year at the New Jersey Training School for Boys and a two year probationary term, along with the necessary Violent Crime Compensation Board penalty, were imposed.

On appeal, J.F. contends:

POINT I. J.F.'S CONFESSION WAS INADMISSIBLE BECAUSE IT WAS NOT VOLUNTARILY, KNOWINGLY, AND INTELLIGENTLY GIVEN.

POINT II. ABSENT CORROBORATION OF J.F.'S CONFESSION, THE TRIAL COURT SHOULD HAVE ACQUITTED HIM OF BOTH CHARGES. (Not raised below).

POINT III. THE DISPOSITION IN THIS CASE WAS ILLEGAL, BECAUSE THE TRIAL COURT INCARCERATED J.F. ALTHOUGH HE IS DEVELOPMENTALLY DISABLED, AND IMPOSED AN UNAUTHORIZED SPLIT SENTENCE. (Not raised below).

1. The Juvenile Code Prohibits Incarcerating Developmentally Disabled Juveniles Such As J.F. In Correctional Facilities.

2. It Was Illegal For The Trial Court To Both Incarcerate J.F. And Place Him On Probation.

POINT IV. J.F.'S ADJUDICATION OF DELINQUENCY SHOULD BE VACATED BECAUSE HE WAS DENIED EFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE OF COUNSEL. U.S. Const. Amends. VI, XIV; N.J. Const. (1947), Art. I, Pars. 1 and 10.

We have carefully considered these contentions. At the least, Point III raises a substantial issue as to the sentence imposed. See State in the Interest of R.M., 141 N.J. 434, 661 A.2d 1277 (1995). Our consideration, however, of Points I and II, convinces us that a reversal of the adjudications is otherwise required, rendering J.F.'s other contentions moot.

J.F. was tried with two co-juveniles who were also charged with aggravated arson and conspiracy thereof. Each juvenile had given a confession that inculpated all of the juveniles. A pretrial application by the State to jointly try the juveniles and to admit each one's confession was granted. In doing so, however, the trial Judge recognized that each juvenile's confession could be considered as evidence against that juvenile only and expressly held that he would not consider a juvenile's confession as evidence of "any implication of any co-[juvenile]." Bruton v. United States, 391 U.S. 123, ...


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