Bill would speed some juvenile court transfers

The Judiciary Committee heard testimony Jan. 28 on a bill to expedite certain juvenile cases.

Sen. Steve Lathrop
Sen. Steve Lathrop

LB354, sponsored by Omaha Sen. Steve Lathrop, would require county and district courts to rule on motions to transfer jurisdiction of a minor to juvenile court within 30 days.

Judicial expediency is especially important, Lathrop said, in cases when a young person may be just months from becoming an adult.

“In the event a judge determines a case would best be handled in juvenile court, it is in the interest of the accused and the public that the transfer be made in a timely fashion so that the youth can benefit from the services and structure provided by our juvenile courts,” he said.

Mark Hanna, representing the Office of the Douglas County Attorney, spoke in support of the bill. LB354 would allow more time to provide adjudicated juveniles the services they need, he said.

“It’s very difficult as a prosecutor to help rehabilitate juveniles who have engaged in serious activities in such a short period of time,” Hanna said. “If we have an individual who is 17 and a half years old, by the time they get to juvenile court and we get them adjudicated, that gives us very little time to give them rehabilitative services.”

No one testified in opposition to the bill and the committee took no immediate action on it.

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