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State ex rel. G. P.

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Third Circuit

September 20, 2018



          Jennifer Van Metre Office of Juvenile Justice COUNSEL FOR STATE-APPLICANT: Office Of Juvenile Justice

          Court composed of Elizabeth A. Pickett, Billy H. Ezell, and Candyce G. Perret, Judges.


         The State of Louisiana, Department of Public Safety and Corrections, through the Office of Juvenile Justice (OJJ), has filed a writ application in this matter contesting the district court's order that the juvenile, G.P., be held in secure custody pending a review hearing scheduled for September 25, 2018. OJJ's writ application fails to discuss the procedural history in this matter.

         District Court Judge Martha O'Neal filed a per curiam with this court. She noted that on January 26, 2018, G.P., who was thirteen years old at the time, entered an admission and was adjudicated delinquent of eleven felonies, which included four counts of simple burglary, violations of La.R.S. 14:62; four counts of simple criminal damage to property, violations of La.R.S. 14:56; and three counts of simple arson, violations of La.R.S. 14:52. G.P. was then placed in juvenile detention:

[i]n an unsecured facility or in other placement with other family members until his 18th birthday subject to modification by the Court. The Court further explained to the juvenile that in the event he should decide to leave the unsecured facility, then he would be transferred to a secure facility.

         The per curiam indicates a review hearing was held on April 3, 2018, and G.P. was ordered back into his mother's home after his failure to make good choices at Boy's Village. On May 7, 2018, OJJ requested the matter be reviewed because G.P.'s mother refused to comply with the conditions of G.P.'s probation. At a review hearing held on May 15, 2018, OJJ requested, and the court ordered, that G.P. wear an ankle bracelet until a review hearing fixed for October 16, 2018. On May 23, 2018, it was reported that G.P. removed the ankle bracelet, took his mother's car, and absconded. During a foot chase with police, G.P. broke into several homes and was eventually apprehended by DeRidder City Police. Thereafter, G.P.'s parents would not allow him to return home. G.P. returned to court on May 25, 2018, for continued custody and probation revocation hearings. His probation was revoked, and he was ordered in unsecure placement. On June 12, 2018, a new petition for adjudication was filed in district court docket number JC-2018-28. The judge received notice via email from G.P.'s probation officer on July 6, 2018, that G.P. fled from a group home in Baton Rouge. On July 9, 2018, the judge received information that G.P. was apprehended and en route to Lake Charles for re-placement, and G.P. was charged with an offense in East Baton Rouge Parish. The judge received a report on August 1, 2018, that the East Baton Rouge Parish charge had been dismissed, but G.P. was scheduled for court in Calcasieu Parish on August 17, 2018. The judge was informed on August 14, 2018, that G.P. ran away from Harbour House on August 12, 2018, and had been apprehended. The judge noted G.P. had been off his medication from July 5 through August 14, 2018.[1] OJJ had made an appointment for G.P. on August 16, 2018, to get reauthorization and to refill his medication. On August 14, 2018, the judge ordered G.P. placed in secure custody. The judge provides the following reasons for her order:

1. Rebecca Harmon, his probation officer, informed the Court that he had a very important doctor's appointment that he had to be present for in 2 days to be able to get back on his medication;
2. The juvenile while in court discussed that he did not intend to comply with any facility that he could leave and threatened again to run away;
3. His mother stated that it takes approximately 30 days for the juvenile to be maintained on his medication for them to be effective and have the necessary overall effect desired.

         The probation revocation review, as well as the adjudication hearing in an unrelated lower court docket number, is set for September 25, 2018.

         OJJ filed a notice of intent to seek review of and request for a stay of the trial court's order of secure confinement on August 21, 2018. The trial court set a return date of September 13, 2018, and denied the request for stay. OJJ's writ was filed with this court on August 31, 2018. OJJ requests expedited consideration by this court or that a stay be issued. For the following reasons, we deny the stay, grant the request for expedited consideration, and deny OJJ's application for supervisory writs.


         OJJ contends the trial court erred in ordering it to place G.P in a specific type of placement thereby circumventing the agency's exclusive authority to determine the placement of a youth in its custody without regard for the agency's resources or appropriate examinations, tests, or evaluations that must be conducted prior to such a determination.


         OJJ relies on La.Ch.Code art. 908(A) and La.R.S. 15:901(D) to support its argument that it has sole authority over treatment, placement, and care of youth in its custody. OJJ argues that a court is prohibited from dictating the use of resources allocated to OJJ. Thus, any order that circumvents this authority should be rendered void.

         Both La.Ch.Code art. 102, which sets forth the purpose and construction of the Children's Code, and La.Ch.Code art. 801, which addresses the purpose of the delinquency provisions, state that in those instances when a juvenile is removed from the control of his parents, "the court shall secure for him care as nearly as possible equivalent to that which the parents should have given him."

         Louisiana Children's Code Article 897 addresses disposition after adjudication of a felony-grade delinquent act and states, in part:

C. Except as provided for in Article 897.1, the court may commit the child to the custody of a private or public institution or agency. When commitment is to be made to a private institution or agency, the court shall:
(1) Select one that has been licensed under state law, if licensure is required by law for such an institution or agency.
(2) Whenever practicable, select an agency or institution of the same religious faith as the child or his parents.
D. Except as provided in Article 897.1, the court may commit the child to the custody of the Department of Public Safety and Corrections, with or without a recommendation that the child be placed in alternative care facilities through the department's client placement process, or be referred to appropriate ...

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