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Supreme Court rules on case heard at Willmar, Minn., High School

WILLMAR -- The Minnesota Supreme Court has issued a ruling in the case heard last fall before more than 500 students at Willmar Senior High School.

The decision in the case, brought by J.J.P., a young man identified only by his initials because of his juvenile status, was partially affirmed, partially reversed and also remanded back to the district court in Hennepin County.

J.J.P., now an adult, petitioned the court system to have his entire juvenile record expunged. The young man, a fireman and emergency medical technician, had the court records of his juvenile adjudication for burglary and theft expunged in 2007, but records held by the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension were not expunged. Those records, when examined by the State Department of Human Services, prevented J.J.P. from being granted a license to become a paramedic.

The seven justices of the Supreme Court heard the case as part of their biannual program to hear arguments at high schools, to educate students about the state court system. The first visit to a school was in Rochester in 1995. The justices were last in Willmar in 1997. Earlier this month, the justices heard a case before students at Roseville High School.

The ruling found that the district court is authorized to expunge from executive branch files the court order adjudicating the juvenile as delinquent when the district court deems it advisable, and that the state statute giving the district court the authority to expunge the order does not usurp or diminish the power of the State Department of Human Services to conduct background checks on individuals adjudicated delinquent.

Ultimately, the ruling remands the decision back to the district court, noting that the decision should be guided by a balancing test examining the benefit of the expungement of the order against the detriment to the public and the burden on the court in issuing, enforcing and monitoring the expungement order.

Gretchen Schlosser

Gretchen Schlosser is the public safety reporter, and writes about agriculture occasionally, for the West Central Tribune. She's been with the Tribune since 2006 and has 17 years of experience working in news, media and communications. 

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