opinion declaring that, "The transfer of a juvenile offender from juvenile court to criminal court for prosecution as an adult should be regarded as the exception, not the rule." Judges Keller and Hervey dissented, holding that "a juvenile transfer order need not specify in detail the facts supporting the order." (Meyers dissented, too, but didn't sign on to Keller's opinion.) John Stride from TDCAA summed up the ruling from a prosecutor's perspective this way:
This decision certainly provides some valuable guidance as to how to properly review the sufficiency of the evidence to support a juvenile transfer order—just probably not the guidance that we were hoping for. In order to support the certification of a juvenile offender into adult court, you must carefully review the factors set forth Section 54.02(f) of the Penal Code [sic, ed. note, he means the Family Code] and make sure that you have evidence that speaks to each of those factors. Section 54.02(h) also requires the juvenile trial judge to be specific in his fact findings with regard to those factors. There is one silver lining in the court’s opinion in this case. It leaves open the possibility for a new transfer hearing if the evidence is found to be insufficient to support the findings from the first transfer hearing. If that happens to you, as has happened to the State in this case, read footnote 90 and see if you can comply with that which is set forth there to earn yourself a second transfer hearing.Bottom line: Texas courts can still certify juveniles as adults but judges, prosecutors and defense counsel all must first do their homework, more closely examining mitigation evidence on the defendant's behalf and making detailed, defendant-specific findings. The court has rejected a rubber-stamp approach which governed the process for nearly 40 years. Probably about time.