Appeal from The 16th Judicial District Court,
Parish of St. Mary, State of Louisiana Trial Court No. 19232
Honorable Keith Comeaux, Judge Presiding.
E. Stutes Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Attorney for Defendants/
Appellants, Shona Satomi Pratt, Hiroji Pratt, and Nikki
A. Prokop, Jr. Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Attorney for
Plaintiff/ Appellee, Jojuyounghi Cleaver.
Janice Villarrubia Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Attorney for
Plaintiff/ Appellee, Jojuyounghi Cleaver, as Administratrix
and Natural Tutrix of Kay ode Ji Jaga.
R. Callender Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Attorney for Plaintiff/
Appellee, Glory William Minja on behalf of Tkumsah Geronimo
BEFORE: GUIDRY, PETTIGREW, AND CRAIN, JJ.
in this succession proceeding appeal a judgment declaring, in
part, that an annuity be included in the calculation of the
active mass of the decedent's estate, and that the
decedent's widow is entitled to a marital portion
consisting of a usufruct over one-fifth (1/5) of the net
estate. Recognizing our lack of appellate jurisdiction, we
dismiss the appeal.
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
succession was opened for the estate of Geronimo Ji Jaga,
formerly known as Elmer G. Pratt, who died on June 3, 2011.
Jaga is survived by his widow, Jojuyounghi Cleaver; one child
from his marriage to Cleaver, Kayode Ji Jaga; two children
from a prior marriage, Hiroji Pratt and Shona Pratt; and,
allegedly, two children born out of wedlock, Nikki Michaux
and Tkumsah Geronimo Ji Jaga.
to the designated record on appeal, the initial judgment of
possession was annulled pursuant to a motion filed by
Cleaver, the current administratrix. Cleaver also filed a
petition and several other motions in the proceeding, in
which she sought to traverse the previously filed detailed
descriptive list, submit a revised detailed descriptive list,
and require that Nikki and Tkumsah prove paternity. Cleaver
also asked to be put in possession of her alleged community
property and alleged she should be awarded a marital portion
based upon necessitous circumstances. Tkumsah also filed a
petition to assert his rights as an alleged forced heir.
these matters were resolved by the parties, and a trial was
held to address whether Nikki established she is the
decedent's daughter, whether an annuity should be
included in the active mass of the decedent's estate, and
whether Cleaver is entitled to a marital portion. The parties
offered testimony from two witnesses, Cleaver and Nikki, and
introduced exhibits. After taking the matter under
advisement, the trial court signed a judgment on December 7,
2015, finding (1) Tkumsah and Nikki are children of the
decedent, (2) all of the decedent's property and funds
are separate property, (3) the annuity shall be included in
the active mass calculation, and (4) Cleaver is entitled to a
marital portion of one-fifth (1/5) of the decedent's
estate. In response to a motion for new trial, the judgment
was amended on February 8, 2016, to more specifically
identify the annuity, to define Cleaver's marital portion
as a usufruct for life of one-fifth (1/5) of the
decedent's net estate, and to require Cleaver to post a
bond. Shona, Hiroji, and Nikki appeal.
court's appellate jurisdiction extends to final judgments
that determine the merits in whole or in part. See
La. Code Civ. Pro. arts. 1841 and 2083. Appellate courts have
a duty to examine their subject matter jurisdiction sua
sponte, even if the litigants do not raise the issue.
Succession of Matthews, 16-0289 ...