The Supreme Court denied review in In re A.G. yesterday, but just barely. Justices Goodwin Liu, Joshua Groban, and Kelli Evans recorded votes to hear the case and they all signed a separate statement by Justice Liu.

A 2-1 unpublished opinion by the Second District, Division Five, Court of Appeal rejected the argument that a juvenile had been coerced into pleading no contest to a robbery charge. Justice Liu wrote, “The sequence of events in this case supports A.G.’s claim that after being detained for 24 days despite a pre-plea report recommending his release, he did not enter his plea voluntarily. Even after reading the report recommending A.G.’s release, the court inexplicably denied release until after A.G. entered his plea, even though nothing had changed. The upshot is that A.G. now has a strike offense, despite some evidence of his minimal involvement in the crime and no prior delinquency history.”

Significantly, the dissenting statement also cited Los Angeles Times articles about the place where A.G. was detained. It was “one of two Los Angeles juvenile hall facilities that has been found unsuitable for detaining minors,” the statement reported. And, the statement added, “Numerous Los Angeles probation officers were recently placed on leave based on allegations of doing exactly what A.G.’s counsel reported — allowing or encouraging detained children to assault one another — and a video of such an incident has been released.”

On the other hand, the Division Five majority stated, “As for A.G.’s contention that his concern about his safety while housed at juvenile hall coerced his no contest plea, the juvenile court stated it was very concerned about A.G.’s safety and could ‘direct probation to keep [A.G.] housed separately for a period of time’ or order probation to house A.G. at the Hope Center. A.G. did not request either solution, and instead pressed for his immediate release. After A.G. pleaded no contest and was released from detention and thus no longer subject to threats at juvenile hall, he did not file a motion to withdraw his plea as having been coerced by the alleged threats.”