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State ex rel. J.M.

Supreme Court of Louisiana

December 9, 2014

STATE OF LOUISIANA IN THE INTEREST OF J. M

ON SUPERVISORY WRITS TO THE JUVENILE COURT, FOR THE PARISH OF ORLEANS.

For Applicant: Hon. Leon A. Cannizzaro, Jr., District Attorney, Donna R. Andrieu, Jerry Bryant Clark, Jr., ORLEANS PARISH DISTRICT ATTORNEY.

For Respondent: Julia Farinas, Jessica Mensch Heyman, LA CENTER FOR CHILDREN'S RIGHTS.

OPINION

Page 1162

[2013-2573 La. 1] JOHNSON, Chief Justice.

We granted this writ application to determine whether the charges against a juvenile must be dismissed where an adjudication hearing was not commenced within ninety days of an answer hearing pursuant to Article 877 of the Louisiana Children's Code. The state argues the ninety-day period is suspended when it enters a nolle prosequi of the original charges and re-files the charges against the juvenile, since the ninety-day period begins to run only when the defendant answers the petition. We disagree.

For the reasons stated herein, we affirm the court of appeal ruling, which reversed the juvenile court's denial of the defendant's motion to dismiss for untimely adjudication.

FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

In a petition filed by the State of Louisiana, juvenile defendant, J.M., was charged with simple battery and simple criminal damage to property. On February 25, 2013, J.M. appeared to answer the petition and entered a denial of the allegations. Pursuant to La. Ch. Code art. 877, the state had ninety days from the date of the answer hearing to adjudicate the case, or until May 26, 2013. The juvenile court set a trial date of March 26, 2013. On that date, the defendant failed [2013-2573 La. 2] to appear for trial and an arrest warrant was issued for her arrest. The record reflects that service was never rendered on the defendant.

On April 17, 2013, the warrant was recalled when the defendant appeared in

Page 1163

court and a new trial date of May 14, 2013 was set. On May 13, 2013, for reasons we cannot discern from the record, the state expressly requested an extension of the adjudication deadline from May 26, 2013 to May 28, 2013 without objection by the defendant. The juvenile court granted the extension and set a hearing date of May 28, 2013.

On May 28, 2013, the state requested a second continuance of the adjudication hearing. The juvenile court denied the state's motion to continue, noting the state had already been granted additional time and finding no good cause to grant an additional continuance. Critically, the state did not object to or seek review of this ruling, but instead entered a nolle prosequi and dismissed the case. The same day, the state filed a new petition alleging the same delinquent acts.

An answer hearing for the refiled petition was set for June 11, 2013. On June 11, 2013, the record reflects service was not made on the defendant and a new hearing date was set for June 25, 2013. On that date, the juvenile court judge was absent and the matter was delayed until July 16, 2013. On July 16, 2013, 141 days from the original answer hearing, J.M. appeared in court to answer the refiled petition. J.M. once again denied the allegations and moved to dismiss the petition, arguing the state violated the time limitations found in Louisiana ...


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