A judge Friday denied a defense attorney's request to hold additional hearings on where to place a 13-year-old boy who fatally shot his neo-Nazi dad, ruling that it was too late to re-open the case.
Riverside County Superior Court Judge Roger Luebs said the Juvenile Court had lost jurisdiction over Joseph Hall when the youth's conviction was appealed last fall.
"The judge did not even let me get into the merits of the case," Joseph's attorney, Punam Grewal, told City News Service. "He said right off the bat that he did not have jurisdiction as a result of the pending appeal, and the issue was moot. I think he was wrong on the law."
Grewal said she will file a petition in U.S. District Court for a federal hearing on the matter, while also proceeding with the boy's criminal appeal in state court.
Joseph was sentenced last October to 10 years in a juvenile detention center for the May 2011 murder of 32-year-old Jeff Russell Hall. The boy, then 11, took his dad's .357 revolver from a bedroom closet and used it to shoot him once in the head as the drunken man lay passed out on a sofa.
Following a nearly weeklong placement hearing, Superior Court Judge Jean Leonard ruled that the most appropriate location for Joseph to serve out his sentence was a juvenile correctional facility in Stockton. Grewal argued that the boy's learning and emotional disabilities would not be adequately addressed at a state youth offenders camp, and might in fact grow worse.
Grewal appealed the sentence and simultaneously sued the Riverside County Office of Education for allegedly failing to ensure her client had received appropriate care while in the custody of the Department of Probation from the time of his arrest on May 1, 2011, to his sentencing last Oct. 31.
"They violated Joseph's disability rights under federal law," Grewal said. "They were supposed to offer him therapy in a locked residential treatment center, and he didn't get that."
The civil case went before the California Office of Administrative Hearings and was assigned to Judge Paul Kamoroff in San Diego. Kamoroff hears cases that fall under the jurisdiction of the California Department of Education.
Over a 13-day period in January, Kamoroff heard testimony regarding Joseph's history, as well as diagnoses that indicate the boy suffers from severe attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and related problems that affect his ability to communicate, according to Grewal.
Kamoroff ruled that Joseph had been entitled to special needs treatment that he didn't receive while in the custody of Riverside County authorities. The judge directed the county Office of Education to petition the Superior Court to become an official party to the criminal case now on appeal and acknowledge that it was deficient in seeing to Joseph's treatment.
The county attempted to comply with Kamoroff's directive during today's hearing, but Luebs would not hear the motion -- again citing the pending criminal appeal.
The county is also appealing Kamoroff's decision. However, according to Grewal, if that ruling stands, the county will be "on the hook" for compensatory services, meaning it will owe one-on-one therapy to Joseph for the time he spent in custody.
Grewal had hoped to present evidence today regarding findings from the January administrative law hearings. She told CNS that experts had nailed down "the nature of Joseph's disability, covering the whole autism spectrum."
"His needs cannot be met in a state juvenile facility," Grewal said.
During the boy's 2012 trial, Chief Deputy District Attorney Mike Soccio recalled prior acts of violence that Joseph perpetrated, including choking a teacher, stabbing his younger sister and hitting his uncle in the head with a club.
"He didn't like people who told him he couldn't do things," Soccio said.
Deputy Public Defender Matthew Hardy countered that Joseph suffered from a neurological disorder tied to his mother's alcohol consumption when she was pregnant with him and had been shown from an early age that "violence was an acceptable way to solve problems."
– City News Service.