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  • In Hennepin County, Minnesota B y JUDGE THOMAS TALLAKSON

    A little Juvenile Court history-any progress ? Before more modern devices, seafaring men of

    yesteryear would pause on their couse to take their bearing and find their location. As to our respec- tive juvenile and family courts, perhaps it would be well to emulate them. It has been suggested that I report such contemplation as to the court pres- ently exercising juvenile jurisdiction in my com- munity of Hennepin County, Minnesota. This is not done to intimate that we have arrived at the ultimate, but to give others an idea of a com- munitys groping for more adequate ways to handle the problems of children.

    The P-0 in 1899

    So, into the archives we dip, and interestingly find that Chapter 154 of the Laws of Minnesota for 1899 show that the three counties( of the total of 87) that had included in them cities of the first class (based on an arbitrary population basis) there shall be appointed an officer to be known as a probation officer. The said probation officer shall be nominated by the State Board of Correc- tions and Charities, but said nomination shall not be effective until i t shall be approved and con- firmed by a majority of the judges of the district court in and for such county, and such probation officer shall have the power and authority to ap- point one or more deputy probation officers, sub- ject to the approval of the judges of the district court. Said probation officer and the deputies shall be appointed for a term of two years, subject to removal by a majority of the district judges for cause. It shall be the duty of said probation officer o r his deputy to be present a t all sessions of the Municipal Court in and for the principal city in said county, and to be present in the District Court of said county, whenever any person under the age of eighteen (18) years is brought into c o u r t for trial. . . .

    The statute goes on to provide that the judge may stay the execution of sentence for any person under the age of 18 who is found guilty of the vio- lation of any law, etc. It also states that the Court

    may at its discretion hold separate sessions for the trial and disposition of such cases. It was pro- vided that the probation officers salary be $800 per year.

    Extension in 1905

    Chapter 321 of the General Laws of Minnesota for 1905 made further provision for the work of the probation officers by setting a four-year term of appointment for each, and stipulating that County Commissioners be required to provide office space and supplies. I t further provided that the proba- tion officers responsibility would be extended to persons up to the age of twenty-one and in the three large counties the probation officers salary was increased to $1,500 per annum.

    It will be noted interestingly enough tha t the facility of probation services came before the enact- ment of a Juvenile Code. Chapter 285 of the Laws of Minnesota for 1905 presents the first Minnesota statute providing for a juvenile court. I find that the provision of district court jurisdiction in juve- nile cases for this county started with this original law and that the practice of having one judge as- signed to juvenile cases also started a t that time. It provides that his court room is to be designated as the Juvenile Court Room and that the court may, for convenience, be c a 1 1 e d the Juvenile Court. The 1899 statute provided that the duty of the probation officer would be to concern him- self with any person under the age of 18 years, but for some reason the Juvenile Court Act tha t came in 1905 was made to apply to children under the age of seventeen (17) years. L a t e r this was changed back to under age 18 years.

    This new act became legally effective on June 1, 1905.

    The first probation officer appointed under the 1899 law was George Copeland, who until that time had been a police officer with the Minneapolis Police Department. As nearly as we can tell, he started work about August, 1899. He was by law concerned with persons under 18 who appeared in either the Municipal or the District Court. I can

    December, 1960 Vol. I1 41

  • In Hennepin County, Minnesota

    only presume that in 1905 he became more clearly and exclusively responsible to the Juvenile Division of the District Court. In 1910 Mr. Howard Hush started work as a probation officer under Mr. Cope- land, although several other probation officers had also been added to the office before then.

    In 1918, Mr. Hush was designated Chief Proba- tion Officer for juveniles, and served with dedica- tion and ability until his retirement in 1957. Mr. Copeland assumed a parallel position as Chief of Adult Probation. Mr. Copeland died in May 1923, at which time Mr. Hush was appointed Chief Pro- bation Officer for the combined adult and juvenile probation services.

    Paul Keve is Named

    In June, 1952, Paul Keve was appointed As- sistant Chief Probation Officer and succeeded Mr. Hush as Chief, with the new title of Director of Court Services, in July, 1955. He continues to serve in this capacity, with great distinction.

    The 1905, Juvenile Court Code applied only to the three counties having large cities within their boundaries, namely : Ramsey County, containing the Capitol City of St. Paul ; St. Louis County, con- taining the Great Lakes Port City of Duluth, and Hennepin County, containing the Mill City of Minn- eapolis.

    The District Court, the states court of general jurisdiction, was given juvenile court jurisdiction. One of the Pioneer and most excellent juvenile court judges of our country, the Honorable Edward F. Waite, was the leader of a group of dedicated lawyers and judges who did a masterful job of giving the state an excellent Juvenile Court Code. They were painfully aware that all 87 counties needed such a juvenile court, but for practical rea- sons of sparsely populated counties and lack of suf- ficient personnel and judges, the legislature was not yet ready to extend the application of the juve- nile court code to the other 85 counties.

    Efforts were persistent and finally in 1917, again through the efforts of the indomitable Judge Waite and other dedicated citizens enlisted by him, a statewide Juvenile Court Code was produced and adopted retaining such jurisdiction in Ramsey, St. Louis and Hennepin County in the District Court (of general jurisdiction) and with such jurisdic- tion being assigned to the Probate Court of each of the other 85 counties. There were many and varied amendments enacted in successive legislative ses- sions. In 1957 the Legislature provided for an

    interim committee to study and propose a new com- prehensive Juvenile Court Code.

    Court Code Improvements

    It was my privilege and pleasure to have served as Chairman of the Advisory Committee to assist the Legislative Interim Committee in this task. This was indeed a committee well representative of all the areas of interest and concern in the provi- sions of a set of laws for the protection, welfare and treatment of children. The committee did an out- standing job of putting together a modern and reasonably adequate code to meet todays problems of youngsters and their families. Many of the pro- visions were based on the Standard Act prepared by the National Probation and Parole Association, the predecessor of the Council on Crime and Delin- quency. The neighboring State of Wisconsin con- tributed much by way of good example and counsel through its recently enacted New Juvenile Court Code. Our new Code was passed by the 1959 Legis- lative Session and became effective July 1, 1959.

    Some of the more salient improvements of the New Minnesota Juvenile Court Code are :-

    The juvenile court is given jurisdiction over adoptions; a new procedure for terminating par- ental rights ; strengthens the juvenile courts juris- diction over children who violate the law ; strength- ens the rights of the child so often subjugated to the rights indiscriminately of parents and others ; recognizes emotional neglect in addition to the traditional physical neglect ; provides protection to the child of immature parents.

    Authority is provided for the appointment of referees, the establishment of county home schools and detention homes by all counties, and the desig- nation of probate juvenile judges as such on elec- tion ballots.

    The procedure for transfer, both to and from juvenile court, of a child who violates a law is care- fully outlined and the minimum age limit for trans- fer for criminal prosecution is raised from 12 to 14.

    Social study of the child or examination of him cannot be undertaken until a petition is filed and, in the case of an allegation of delinquency, no in- vestigation or examination can be made until the issue is resolved if the child denies that he is delin- quent before the judge o r referee. A Section de- voted to the hearing sets forth the rights of the parties a t the hearing. A section related to records specifies among other things that peace officers records of children are not open to public inspection

    Page 42 Juvenile Court Judges Journal

  • In Hennepin County, Minnesota

    and provides a penalty for violation of the provi- sion.

    Detention sections spell out the situations in which a child may be taken into custody, what is to be done with him, and the places where he may be detained. Disposition sections delineate the corrective steps a juvenile court may take under particular circumstances, providing for some de- gree of informal handling of the delinquent child, with safeguards for the child, and spell out the ef- fect of a juvenile court adjudication, The section entitled costs describes the financial responsi- bility of parents and society, and sets forth costs and expense


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