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In re K.L.

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Fourth Circuit

April 10, 2017

IN THE INTEREST OF K.L.

         APPEAL FROM JUVENILE COURT ORLEANS PARISH NO. 2016-131-02-DQ-C, SECTION "C" Honorable Candice Bates Anderson, Judge.

          Leon A. Cannizzaro, Jr. DISTRICT ATTORNEY, ORLEANS PARISH J. Taylor Gray ASSISTANT DISTRICT ATTORNEY, COUNSEL FOR APPELLEE/STATE OF LOUISIANA.

          Tenee Felix LOUISIANA CENTER FOR CHILDREN'S RIGHTS, COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLANT.

          Court composed of Judge Rosemary Ledet, Judge Sandra Cabrina Jenkins, Judge Regina Bartholomew-Woods.

          REGINA BARTHOLOMEW WOODS JUDGE.

         This is a juvenile delinquency case. The juvenile, K.L., appeals his delinquency adjudication for possession of marijuana.[1] For the following reasons, we affirm.

         FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         At approximately 3:20 p.m. on December 5, 2014, Mr. Tyrell Gaddies, a behavior mentor and math teacher at Crescent Leadership Academy in New Orleans, Louisiana, was assigned to bus detail, which involved supervising students as they boarded the school bus. During bus detail that day, Mr. Gaddies observed an apparent hand-to-hand transaction between K.L. and another student who was known to have issues with marijuana. Mr. Gaddies testified that he knew K.L. because he was his behavior mentor. For these reasons, Mr. Gaddies boarded the bus and asked K.L. to remove what he had placed into his pocket. K.L. removed only his left hand from his pocket. Mr. Gaddies then asked K.L. to remove his right hand from his pocket. K.L. produced an empty right hand. Mr. Gaddies further testified that he asked K.L. to empty both pockets. K.L., however, emptied only his left pocket. Mr. Gaddies then reached into K.L.'s right pocket and retrieved a plastic bag that contained marijuana. After he retrieved the marijuana, Mr. Gaddies notified the New Orleans Police Department ("NOPD"); NOPD School Resource Officer Abram Pedesclaux responded. Officer Pedesclaux testified that he was given custody of the bag of marijuana. He prepared a police report and placed the marijuana into Central Evidence and Property. He identified the marijuana at the adjudication hearing.

         PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         On May 10, 2016, K.L. was charged by delinquency petition with possession of marijuana in violation of La. R.S. 40:966(E)(1). On May 24, 2016, K.L. appeared in juvenile court for arraignment and pled not guilty.

         On June 7, 2016, K.L. filed a motion to suppress evidence. At K.L.'s request, the suppression hearing was conducted in conjunction with the adjudication hearing, which was held on September 20, 2016. Utimately, the juvenile court denied K.L.'s motion to suppress and adjudicated K.L. delinquent of possession of marijuana in violation of La. R.S. 40:966(E)(1). On that same date, the juvenile court committed K.L. to secure care custody for six months, but suspended the execution of the sentence and placed K.L. on active probation for eighteen months. It is from this adjudication of delinquency that K.L. appeals.

         DISCUSSION

         Recently, this court adopted a practice of conducting an error patent review in juvenile delinquency cases. State in Interest of W.B., 16-0642, p. 4 (La.App. 4 Cir. 12/7/16), 206 So.3d 974, 978; See State in the Interest of S.J., 13-1025, p. 4 (La.App. 4 Cir. 11/6/13), 129 So.3d 676, 679 (citing State in the Interest of A.H., 10-1673, p. 9 (La.App. 4 Cir. 4/20/11), 65 So.3d 679, 685). A review of the record in this case revealed no errors patent.

         Although defense counsel did not designate it as an assignment of error, counsel raised sufficiency of the evidence in her brief. In a juvenile adjudication proceeding, the state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the child committed a delinquent act alleged in the petition. La. Ch.C art. 883; State in the Interest of D.M., 97-0628, p. 4 (La.App. 1 Cir. 11/07/97), 704 So.2d 786, 789. On appeal, the standard of review for the sufficiency of evidence, enunciated in Jackson v. Virginia,443 U.S. 307, 99 S.Ct. 2781, 61 L.Ed.2d 560 (1979), is whether, viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the prosecution, any rational trier of fact could have found the state proved the essential elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt; this standard is applicable to delinquency cases. La. C.Cr.P. art. 821. Interest of D.M., 97-0628 at p. 5, 704 So.2d at 789. Further, in a juvenile delinquency proceeding, an appellate court is constitutionally mandated to review the law and facts. La. Const. art. 5, § 10(B). Accordingly, an appellate court must review the record to determine if the trial court was clearly wrong in its factual findings. State ...


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