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State ex rel. D.G.

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, First Circuit

September 24, 2018

STATE OF LOUISIANA IN THE INTEREST OF D.G.

          Appealed from The Juvenile Court In and for the Parish of East Baton Rouge, Louisiana Docket Number JU112071 Honorable Adam J. Haney, Judge Presiding

          Hillar C. Moore, III Courtney E. Meyers Dale R. Lee Baton Rouge, LA Counsel for Appellee, State of Louisiana

          Annette Roach Lake Charles, LA Counsel for Defendant/Appellant, D.G.

          BEFORE: WHIPPLE, C.J., McCLENDON AND HIGGINBOTHAM, JJ.

          WHIPPLE, C.J.

         The juvenile, D.G., was charged by petition in juvenile court with one count of armed robbery, a violation of LSA-R.S. 14:64, and one count of simple battery, a violation of LSA-R.S. 14:35 He denied the allegations and, following an adjudication hearing, was adjudicated a delinquent for the charged offenses. As noted by the juvenile court, these offenses occurred while D.G. was on probation for another offense. For the armed robbery offense, the juvenile court imposed disposition of confinement in secure placement until the juvenile attains the age of twenty-one years without benefit of parole, probation, or suspension of sentence; for the simple robbery offense, the juvenile court imposed disposition of confinement for six months and ordered this disposition to run concurrently with any other sentence imposed. D.G. now appeals, designating two assignments of error. For the following reason, we affirm the adjudications and dispositions.

         FACTS

         On March 31, 2017, the victim, Cornelius Chopez, left his apartment on Titan Avenue in Baton Rouge to dump his garbage. As he was walking back to his apartment, D.G. and another juvenile approached Chopez and demanded money. He did not have money on his person. The juveniles patted him down. When Chopez tried to run, D.G. produced a gun from his waistband and pointed it at Chopez's head. D.G. grazed his head with the gun. When Chopez tried to run, he dropped his cell phone. D.G.'s companion took the phone, and the juveniles left. Chopez identified D.G. in a photographic lineup as the perpetrator. Chopez also identified D.G. in court.

         D.G. did not testify.

         ASSIGNMENT OF ERROR NO. 1

         In his first assignment of error, D.G. argues the juvenile court erred in failing to make a finding of competency prior to proceeding with the adjudication hearing.

         The issue of D.G.'s competency was apparently raised prior to the contradictory hearing held on February 6, 2018. The first minute entry of the record states: "COURT SUSPENDS HEARING, PENDING RESTORATION ON COMPETENCY." The minutes further indicate that the competency review was set for September 5, 2017. The September 5, 2017 minute entry states that the matter was reassigned for a status conference on October 24, 2017. D.G. notes that on this date, October 24, 2017, the juvenile court relieved the Department of Health and Mental Health Advocacy Center of representation. D.G. contends that there was no further mention of competency or mental health issues until disposition was imposed.

         D.G. points out in brief that once the mental health of a child is raised, there can be no further steps in the prosecution until the child is found to have the mental capacity to proceed. See LSA-Ch. C. arts. 832, 834 & 836. D.G. asserts that his case was suspended and that his competency was never determined. Thus, D.G. contends his adjudications and dispositions are null, and the case should be remanded to determine his competency in accordance with LSA-Ch. C. arts. 836-837.

         We disagree. The entirety of D.G.'s argument is based on what was contained in a few minute entries. While it is clear that someone at some point raised the issue of D.G.'s competency, there is nothing in the record to indicate the juvenile court even ordered a competency commission, pursuant to LSA-Ch.C. art. 834. Further, while D.G. suggests that the Mental Health Advocacy Center representative was "relieved" by the court, with no further consideration or mention of D.G.'s competency, our reading of the record suggests something different. The October 24, 2017 minute entry indicates the following people were present in court: The prosecutor; defense counsel; Krystal Brown, with the Louisiana Department of Health; Brittany Yoes, with the Mental Health Advocacy Center; and Keelen Robinson, with the Office of Juvenile ...


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