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Criminal Resource Manual

139. Review Of The District Court's Determination

Appellate review of the district court's factual findings is governed by Rule 52(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, which provides: "Findings of fact . . . shall not be set aside unless clearly erroneous, and due regard shall be given to the opportunity of the trial court to judge of the credibility of the witnesses." A finding of fact is clearly erroneous when "although there is evidence to support it, the reviewing court . . . is left with the definite and firm conviction that a mistake has been committed." Anderson v. City of Bessemer City, 470 U.S. 564, 573, 105 S. Ct. 1504, 1511, 84 L. Ed. 2d 518 (1985) (quoting United States v. United States Gypsum Co., 333 U.S. 364, 395, 68 S. Ct. 525, 542, 92 L. Ed. 746 (1948)). The "interest of justice" analysis gives the district court broad discretion. Doe, 871 F. 2d at 1252. Such a determination is left to the sound discretion of the district court. Id., citing United States v. Hayes, 590 F. 2d 309, 311 (9th Cir. 1979); Parker, 956 F. 2d at 169.

An order transferring a juvenile for adult prosecution is immediately appealable under 28 U.S.C.A. § 1291 and the collateral order doctrine of Cohen v. Beneficial Industrial Loan Corp., 337 U.S. 541, 69 S. Ct. 1221, 93 L. Ed. 1528 (1949); United States v. J.J.K., 76 F.3d 870, 871 (7th Cir. 1996) (citing numerous cases from various jurisdictions). The Courts have ruled that since a transfer decision made pursuant to the Act constitutes a "final decision", interlocutory appeal is available. Id. With the prosecution of a juvenile as an adult, several of the benefits and safeguards afforded by statute - e.g., sealing of records and limitations of inquiries into records, protection from fingerprinting and photographing, and withholding of name and picture from the news media - would be irretrievably lost unless the juvenile is permitted to appeal the district court's order before conviction. Id. Although the premise of the Act can be questioned in the present era of rampant and violent juvenile criminality, it is nonetheless binding and shows that the order appealed from falls within the scope of the collateral order doctrine. Id. at 872.