Certified question from the District Court of Stutsman
County, Southeast Judicial District, the Honorable Cherie L.
QUESTION NOT ANSWERED, SUPERVISORY JURISDICTION EXERCISED.
AFFIRMED IN PART, REVERSED IN PART AND REMANDED.
Nwoga, Assistant State's Attorney, Jamestown, ND, for
plaintiff and appellee.
Schell, Fargo Public Defender Office, Fargo, ND, for
defendant and appellant.
This case is before the Supreme Court on the Stutsman County
district court's certified question of law whether a
married person under the age of eighteen is a
"child" under the Juvenile Court Act. We decline to
answer the certified question. However, this is an
appropriate case in which to exercise our supervisory
jurisdiction and reverse and remand with directions to vacate
the judgment and to dismiss the case for lack of subject
G.C.H. is charged with five crimes which allegedly occurred
when G.C.H. was sixteen and seventeen years old. G.C.H. was
married when the alleged crimes occurred and still is
married. G.C.H. filed a motion to dismiss for lack of subject
matter jurisdiction due to his age, claiming the proper
jurisdiction was in juvenile court. The district court denied
the motion, finding G.C.H. was not a child under North Dakota
law because he was married. After other proceedings, G.C.H.
filed a motion to certify the question to the North Dakota
Supreme Court. The district court granted G.C.H.'s motion
and certified the following question:
"Is the Defendant a 'child' under N.D.C.C.
§ 27-20-04 [sic], who would therefore be under the
exclusive jurisdiction of the Juvenile Court requiring the
District Court to dismiss the above-referenced cases and
refer the cases to Juvenile Court?"
G.C.H. argues a married defendant is a "child"
under N.D.C.C. § 27-20-02(4)(b) if the individual was
under age twenty when the crime is charged, the defendant has
committed delinquent acts, and the delinquent acts were
allegedly committed while under the age of eighteen.
Therefore, G.C.H. argues jurisdiction belongs in the juvenile
court rather than the district court.
G.C.H. argues the requirements of N.D.R.App.P. 47.1(a)(1) are
met and the Supreme Court should answer the certified
question of law. The State did not oppose the motion to
certify the question. A state district court may certify
questions of law to the Supreme Court when two conditions are
"(A) There is a question of law involved in the
proceeding that is determinative of the proceeding; and
(B) It appears to the district court that there is no
controlling precedent in the decisions of the ...