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State v. Rogers

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Second Circuit

June 21, 2017

STATE OF LOUISIANA Plaintiff-Appellee
v.
LAWRENCE ROGERS Defendant-Appellant

         Appealed from the Second Judicial District Court for the Parish of Jackson, Louisiana Lower Court Case No. 3134-NS Honorable Jimmy C. Teat, Judge

          STEWART & STEWART By: Jonathan M. Stewart Counsel for Appellant.

          DANIEL W. NEWELL District Attorney TERESA CULPEPPER CARROLL Assistant District Attorney Counsel for Appellee.

          Before WILLIAMS, PITMAN, and BLEICH (Pro Tempore), JJ.

          BLEICH, J. (PRO TEMPORE)

         This appeal arises from the Second Judicial District Court for the Parish of Jackson, State of Louisiana, wherein the trial court ordered Lawrence Rogers to submit to DNA testing in connection with Tiffany Thompson's petition to establish paternity of her minor child. For the following reasons, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

         FACTS

         On January 8, 2016, the Jackson Parish District Attorney's Office filed an action to establish paternity in accordance with La. R.S. 46:236, et seq. It requested Lawrence Rogers submit to blood testing in order to confirm if he is the biological father of Tiffany Thompson's son, T.A.T., born March 29, 2006. In the supporting paternity affidavit, Thompson averred the following: she told Rogers he was the father of the child; the child resembled Rogers; no other man was listed as the father on the child's birth certificate; and, she had not had sexual intercourse with any man other than Rogers during the time 30 days before or after conception.

         On February 26, 2016, the parties came before a Jackson Parish hearing officer. Rogers refused DNA testing and requested a show cause hearing, which immediately followed. During the hearing, Thompson stated that she was working for Rogers and engaging in a sexual relationship with him when she became pregnant. Although Rogers corroborated that Thompson worked for him in 2005, he denied ever having sexual intercourse with her. In support of her claim that T.A.T. resembles Rogers, two recent photographs of the child were entered into evidence without objection. At the conclusion of the hearing, the matter was taken under advisement and each party was given seven days to submit memoranda containing any additional arguments or evidence.

         After considering the testimony and supplemental memoranda, the hearing officer issued an order for Rogers to submit to DNA testing on one of two dates in April 2016. In response, Rogers filed a notice of his intention to seek a supervisory writ and emergency stay of the proceeding. The trial court granted Rogers' request, and this Court declined to consider the writ.[1] Subsequently, the trial court issued a final judgment incorporating the hearing officer's recommendations and requiring Rogers submit to DNA testing in September 2016. Rogers filed this suspensive appeal.

         DISCUSSION

         In his appeal, Rogers urges a single assignment of error. He argues the trial court erred in finding the state presented sufficient evidence to establish a reasonable possibility of paternity, because it based its decision solely on the uncorroborated testimony of Thompson. Rogers further argues that an order requiring DNA testing is a search and seizure under the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution and violates his constitutional right to privacy. Additionally, Rogers argues that since the state failed to produce the only witness mentioned by Thompson who might corroborate her story, he is entitled to a presumption that the witness's testimony would be adverse to the state. We disagree.

         The Uniform Act on Blood Tests to Determine Paternity (La. R.S. 9:396, et seq.) provides that in any civil action in which paternity is a relevant fact, the trial court may order the mother, child, and alleged father to submit to the collection and testing of blood or tissue samples. La. R.S. 9:396(A)(1). When a party to a contested paternity action refuses to voluntarily undergo a blood test, a show cause hearing must be held in which the trial court can determine whether there is sufficient evidence to establish a prima facie case warranting the issuance of a court order for blood testing. In the Interest of the Minor Child, J.M., 590 So.2d 565 (La. 1991); State, Dep't of Soc. Servs., Office of Family Support v. Williams, 605 So.2d 7 (La.App. 2 Cir. 1992). In the show cause hearing, before an order for blood testing is issued, the moving party must show that there is a reasonable possibility of paternity. In Interest of J.M., supra. If any party refuses to submit to such tests, the trial court may resolve the question of paternity against such party or enforce its order if the rights of others and the interests of justice so require. La. R.S. 9:396(A)(2).

         In State v. Williams, supra, a petition filed on behalf of the minor child alleged Williams was the child's biological father. In his answer, Williams admitted to engaging in sexual intercourse with the mother on two occasions, but denied paternity and refused to voluntarily submit to blood testing. At that show cause hearing, the state presented a friend of the mother who testified she had knowledge of the relationship between Williams and the mother, and witnessed Williams take her on dates and pick her up from work. The trial court ruled the state failed to establish a prima facie case warranting the issuance of an order for blood testing based on the fact that the mother's husband was listed as the presumptive father on the child's birth certificate, and the mother admitted to other sexual partners around the time she became pregnant. The state appealed, and the Williams court reversed the trial court, finding the concept of dual paternity allows for a suit against an alleged biological father even if ...


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