FSM SUPREME COURT
TRIAL DIVISION (Pon.)
Cite as In the Matter of Rodney Cantero, a Juvenile ,
3 FSM Intrm. 481 (Pon. 1988)

[3 FSM Intrm. 481]
 
IN THE MATTER OF
RODNEY CANTERO,
A JUVENILE
 
FSM JUV. 1988-511

OPINION
 
Before Edward C. King
Chief Justice
November 2, 1988

APPEARANCES:
     For the Juvenile:            Michael Powell
                                             Chief Public Defender
                                             Federated States of Micronesia
                                             Kolonia, Pohnpei 96941

     For the Government:     Randy Boyer
                                             State Attorney
                                             State Attorney's Office
                                             Kolonia, Pohnpei 96941

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[3 FSM Intrm. 482]

HEADNOTES
Constitutional Law - National/State Powers;
Legislative Power
     Decisionmaking concerning allocation of functions as state and national roles falls most squarely within the role of Congress, for Congress is the most political branch of the national government and is best suited to resolve policy issues.  In re Cantero, 3 FSM Intrm. 481, 484 (Pon. 1988).

Constitutional Law - Legislative Power
     Once Congress has set a policy direction, barring constitutional violation, it is the duty of this Court to ascertain and follow that  guidance.  In re Cantero, 3 FSM Intrm. 481, 484 (Pon. 1988).

Statutes
     The absence of any explanation in the legislative history or from the government to justify a different interpretation, the only apparent reason for the deletion of the words "alleged to be found delinquent" from the Model Penal Code definition of official detention is that Congress wished to exclude detained juveniles from the national prohibitions against escape.  11 F.S.M.C. 505(1).  In re Cantero, 3 FSM Intrm. 481, 484 (Pon. 1988).

Statutes
     Juveniles alleged or found to be delinquent children are not under "official detention" within the meaning of 11 F.S.M.C. 505(1).  In re Cantero, 3 FSM Intrm. 481, 484 (Pon. 1988).

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COURT'S OPINION
EDWARD C. KING, Chief Justice:
     The information of delinquency in this case charges the juvenile with being a delinquent child within the meaning of 12 F.S.M.C. 1102(1) because, on June 26, 1988, he allegedly escaped from the Pohnpei State jail, in violation of 11 F.S.M.C. 505, and then burglarized a store in Kolonia, Pohnpei, in violation of 11 F.S.M.C. 951.

The September 9 Motion
     On September 9, the juvenile moved to dismiss both charges on grounds that, although the FSM Supreme Court has jurisdiction over burglary and escape as major crimes, proceedings concerning juveniles under 12 F.S.M.C. 1101 through 1107 are not criminal proceedings.  Thus, it was argued, this Court's jurisdiction over cases involving charges of major crimes does not extend to juvenile cases arising out of such charges.

[3 FSM Intrm. 483]

     It is true that in cases where juveniles are alleged to have violated the National Criminal Code the Juvenile Code calls for a "flexible  procedure."  The juvenile is not to be convicted or acquitted of the underlying charge.  12 F.S.M.C. 1103. Instead, the issue is whether the juvenile is a delinquent child.  Still, the crucial point is that this case is based upon charges that the juvenile has violated the National Criminal Code.  In juvenile cases, the finding on the issue of delinquency turns on whether the government establishes that the juvenile committed acts identified as crimes.  In this case those acts are set out at 11 F.S.M.C. 505 and 951.  Therefore this case falls within this Court's general jurisdiction over acts described as crimes in the National Criminal Code.  Accordingly, the juvenile's first contention was denied at a pretrial hearing held on September 23. See also FSM v. Albert, 1 FSM Intrm. 14, 15 (Pon. 1981).

     The juvenile's September 9 motion set forth a second contention, that the national crime of escape set out at 11 F.S.M.C. 505 applies only to escapes by prisoners being held for violating a national crime.  It is conceded by all concerned that the juvenile here was being held by state authorities on the grounds of violation of state law, not of any national law, when he fled from custody.

     This second argument also was denied by the Court.  The appellate division has ruled that any escape from detention by a "person legally authorized or empowered to arrest or detain on behalf of the Federated States of Micronesia" can be the foundation for an escape charge under 11 F.S.M.C. 505(1) without regard to whether the detention was for a national crime.  Doone v. FSM, 2 FSM Intrm. 103, 106 (App. 1985).  It is conceded that the state police officers who had custody of the juvenile when he escaped had authority to arrest or detain on behalf of the Federated States of Micronesia pursuant to the law enforcement agreement between the national government and the State of Pohnpei. Accordingly, the Doone decision precluded acceptance of that second contention made by the juvenile in his September 9 motion.

The October 18 Motion
     On October 18 counsel for the juvenile filed a motion to reconsider, this time relying upon the novel theory that, as a matter of statutory construction, the national escape statute excludes escapes by juveniles.

     Counsel pointed out that, "The primary source drawn upon by the Congress of the Federated States of Micronesia to compile the National Criminal Code was the Model Penal Code."  Doone v. FSM, 2 FSM Intrm. at 106, quoting SCREP No. 1-299, J. of 1st Cong., 4th Reg. Sess. 281, 282 (1980).  The Model Penal Code language would have left no doubt that escapes by juveniles are within the national escape statute.  It defines "official detention," from which escapes are prohibited, as follows:

Arrest, detention in any facility or custody of persons under charge or conviction of crime or alleged or found to be delinquent, detention for extraditionor deportation, or any other detention for law enforcement

[3 FSM Intrm. 484]

purposes; but "official detention" does not include supervision of probation or parole, or constraint incidental to release on bail.

Model Penal Code 242.6 (1980) (emphasis added).

     When Congress enacted the definition of official detention, it accepted the above language almost verbatim, but excluded the phrase, "or alleged or found to be delinquent."

     One of the most delicate and difficult tasks facing a new nation is the determination of which functions should be carried out by state governments, and which should be consigned to the national government.  In many instances that issue is determined by the Constitution. on many other issues however, there is a great deal of flexibility and someone must determine which authorities should carry out particular responsibilities.

     Resolution of issues of federalism is not only a delicate task, but a uniquely political one as well, calling for balancing desires for local control and autonomy on the one hand, against the need for uniform standards and perhaps more efficient and coordinated approaches on the other.  Such decisions must often be made on an ad hoc basis reflecting both public opinion and a careful assessment of what will work best for the nation.

     Decisionmaking concerning allocation of functions as state and national roles falls most squarely within the role of Congress, for Congress is the most political branch of the nation's government and is best suited to resolvepolicy issues. Semens v. Continental Airlines, Inc. (II), 2 FSM Intrm. 200, 207(Pon. 1986).  Once Congress has set a policy direction, barring constitutional violation, it is the duty of this Court to ascertain and follow that guidance.

     There is no explanation in the legislative history for the deletion of the words "alleged or found to be delinquent" from the Model Penal Code definition of official detention.  The only apparent reason for that deletion is a congressional wish to exclude detained juveniles from the national prohibitions against escape. The government suggests no alternative explanation.  Thus, the Court concludes that Congress did not intend for a juvenile alleged or found to be a delinquent child to be considered under "official detention" within the meaning of 11 F.S.M.C. 505(1).

Conclusion
     The Court holds that the juvenile here did not violate National  Criminal Code prohibitions against escape by leaving the Pohnpei State jail when he was being held on charges of being a delinquent child.  If the juvenile is to be punished for that departure from the state jail, that would have to be under state law.  The motion of the juvenile for dismissal of the count alleging that he is a delinquent child because he violated the national prohibition against escape, 11 F.S.M.C. 505, is therefore granted.

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