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State ex rel. A.C.

Supreme Court of Louisiana

June 29, 2017

STATE OF LOUISIANA IN THE INTEREST OF A.C.

          PER CURIAM.

         On March 7, 2016, the state filed a petition alleging A.C., at the age of 14 years, committed the felony-grade delinquent acts of aggravated rape of a victim under the age of 13 years, La.R.S. 14:42, and indecent behavior with a juvenile, La.R.S. 14:81. That same day, A.C. appeared to answer the petition and denied the allegations. Pursuant to La.Ch.C. art. 877(B), the state had 90 days to commence the adjudication hearing, which was until Monday, June 6, 2016. The juvenile court set the adjudication hearing for Friday, June 3, 2016.

         On that date, the state made a motion to continue the hearing alleging that the prosecutor and the family of the victims had been out of town and witnesses had not been subpoenaed. Counsel for A.C. objected and indicated that, as soon as the 90-day limit passed, counsel would file a motion to dismiss the delinquency petition. The juvenile court found there was not good cause to extend the 90-day period and additionally dismissed the delinquency petition at that time. The state objected and gave notice of its intent to seek supervisory review in the court of appeal.

         The court of appeal granted the state's writ application and reversed the ruling of the juvenile court, finding: "The district court prematurely dismissed the [state's] petition. See La.Ch.Code. art. 877." State in the Interest of A.C., 16-1052 (La.App. 1 Cir. 10/7/16) (unpub'd). A.C. did not apply for rehearing in the first circuit or seek supervisory review in this court.

         On October 13, 2016, A.C. moved again to dismiss the delinquency petition, contending that the 90-day time limit had run, and argued in the alternative that the time was not suspended when the state sought supervisory review or, if the time was suspended, it began to run again after the court of appeal's ruling on October 7, 2016, and had now run out. After the juvenile court denied A.C.'s motion to dismiss, A.C. gave notice of his intent to seek supervisory review from the court of appeal.

         The court of appeal granted A.C.'s writ application and dismissed the delinquency petition for failure to timely commence the adjudication hearing. The court of appeal found:

When a "child is not continued in custody, the adjudication hearing shall commence within ninety days of the appearance to answer the petition." La.Ch. Code art. 877(B). The mandatory time limitations provided in La. Ch. Code art. 877 were set forth to ensure expedited adjudication of children. See State v. Roberson, 2014-1996 (La. 10/14/15), 179 So.3d 573, 576. Through no fault of the juvenile, the mandatory time limitation for the commencement of the adjudication hearing has exceeded the ninety-day requirement by six months. Accordingly, the district court's ruling denying the juvenile's motion to dismiss is reversed, and this matter is remanded to the district court for further proceedings in accordance with this decision.

State in the Interest of A.C., 16-1492 (La.App. 1 Cir. 12/28/16) (unpub'd). One member of the appellate panel dissented:

I find the district court did not err in denying the juvenile's motion to dismiss, filed on October 13, 2016. This Court's decision in State of Louisiana in the Interest of A.C., 2016-1052 (La.App. 1st Cir. 10/7/16) (unpublished writ action) became final on October 21, 2016 in accordance with La. Code Crim. P. art. 922(B). The motion to dismiss the juvenile's petition, filed on October 13, 2016, was filed prematurely.

Id. (Pettigrew, J., dissenting). Implicit in the dissent's view is a determination that the 90-day time limit was suspended while the state sought supervisory review. For the following reasons, we find the dissent's view is correct. Children's Code article 877 provides:

A. When the child is charged with a crime of violence as defined in R.S. 14:2(B) and the child is continued in custody pursuant to Chapter 5 of this Title, the adjudication hearing shall commence within sixty days of the appearance to answer the petition. In all other cases, if the child is continued in custody pursuant to Chapter 5 of this Title, the adjudication hearing shall commence within thirty days of the appearance to answer the petition.
B. If the child is not continued in custody, the adjudication hearing shall commence within ninety days of the appearance to answer the petition.
C. If the hearing has not been commenced timely, upon motion of the child, the court shall release a child continued in custody ...

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