from the Juvenile Court in and for the Parish of East Baton
Rouge, Louisiana Trial Court No. 110250 Honorable Pamela
Taylor Johnson, Judge.
C. MOORE, III DISTRICT ATTORNEY JERNE' C. THERIOT
ASSISTANT DISTRICT ATTORNEY BATON ROUGE, LA. ATTORNEYS FOR
STATE OF LOUISIANA.
S. HUNTER BATON ROUGE, LA ATTORNEY FOR DEFENDANT-APPELLEE
BEFORE: GUIDRY, PETTIGREW, AND CRAIN, JJ.
case, the State challenges the juvenile court's dismissal
of its petition pursuant to Children's Code Title VII,
art. 730. For the reasons that follow, we find the judgment
of dismissal in this matter is not an appealable judgment and
dismiss the appeal.
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
to the record, the State filed a petition requesting that
T.E. be adjudicated a child of a Family In Need of Services
based on T.E. being a truant and ungovernable. The matter
proceeded to trial on October 13, 2016, at which time
evidence was introduced and the case was submitted for
consideration. The juvenile court found that the State failed
to prove its case by a preponderance of the evidence and
dismissed the State's petition with prejudice. The State
the instant appeal was lodged, a show cause order was issued
by this court, noting that there was no written judgment in
the record regarding the October 13, 2016 ruling. Counsel for
T.E. subsequently filed a motion to dismiss the appeal as
untimely because the State failed to timely seek an extension
of the return date. On June 7, 2017, the record was
supplemented with a written judgment signed by the juvenile
court on May 16, 2017, which dismissed the petition with
prejudice. On July 10, 2017, another panel of this court
handed down two separate actions in this matter.
the motion to dismiss the appeal was denied. We note that had
this motion been referred to the merits, our decision would
have been the same. This court has consistently recognized
that appeals are favored in the law. Moreover, the Louisiana
Code of Civil Procedure mandates that "[t]he articles of
this Code are to be construed liberally, and with due regard
for the fact that rules of procedure implement the
substantive law and are not an end in themselves."
Petroleum Treaters, Inc. v. Houma Land & Offshore
Co., 545 So.2d 1300, 1301 (La.App. 1 Cir. 1989), citing
La. Code Civ. P. art. 5051. Louisiana Code of Civil Procedure
article 2161 provides, in part, that an appeal shall not be
dismissed because of an irregularity, error, or defect unless
it is imputable to the appellant. In a separate action, this
court maintained the appeal, but reserved for the merits
panel the final determination as to whether the appeal should
be maintained. Thus, we turn to the merits of the appeal.
appeal, the State argues that the juvenile court erred as a
matter of law in ruling that the State failed to meet its
burden of proof. The State contends it was only required to
prove the allegations of the petition by a preponderance of
the evidence, i.e., prove that the allegations of
fact are more probable than not. Thus, the State avers this
question of law should be reviewed by this court de
novo, showing no deference to the findings and reasoning
of the juvenile court. In response, T.E. argues this matter
is not appealable and the dismissal should be affirmed.
Directing this court's attention to Articles 330 and 331
of the Louisiana Children's Code, T.E. maintains that
black letter law is controlling in this case. We agree with
T.E. that this matter is not appealable.
330, entitled "Judgments appealable, " provides:
A. An appeal may be taken from any final judgment of a court
and shall be to the ...