IN RE: JUDITH SMITH, O/B/O MINOR CHILD, JORDAN JOSEPH SMITH
APPEAL FROM THE TWENTY-FOURTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT PARISH
OF JEFFERSON, STATE OF LOUISIANA NO. 751-609, DIVISION
"F" HONORABLE MICHAEL P. MENTZ, JUDGE PRESIDING
COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF/APPELLANT, JUDITH SMITH Joseph F.
composed of Judges Marc E. Johnson, Hans J. Liljeberg, and
John J. Molaison, Jr.
J. LILJEBERG JUDGE
Judith Smith, on behalf of the minor child, Jordan Joseph
Smith, appeals a ruling by the trial court, which she
contends dismissed a petition to establish paternity she
filed on behalf of the minor child. For reasons set forth
more fully below, we lack appellate jurisdiction due to the
absence of a final appealable judgment and must dismiss this
appeal without prejudice.
15, 2015, appellant, Judith Smith, filed a Petition to
Establish Paternity and/or Filiation on behalf of the minor
child, Jordan Joseph Smith. In the petition, appellant seeks
to confirm paternity and establish filiation of the minor
child to his alleged father, Raymond Francois, Jr., who died
on September 14, 2014. The matter was set for hearing on two
occasions but then continued without date. On May 12, 2016,
appellant filed a Motion and Incorporated Memorandum In
Support for Scientific Paternity Testing. In the motion,
appellant stated for the first time that the alleged father
of the minor child is "Raymond Francois, Sr." and
requested entry of an order to obtain biological samples
from, Raymond Francois, Jr., the decedent's legitimate
child and alleged half-brother of the minor child. The motion
for paternity testing was originally set before the hearing
officer on June 21, 2016, and continued on two occasions to
September 9, 2016, and then March 9, 2017. The record
indicates that, on March 9, 2017, the hearing officer denied
appellant's motion for paternity testing. Appellant did
not file an objection to the hearing officer's denial.
September 19, 2017, appellant filed a Motion and Incorporated
Memorandum In Support To Reset Hearing On Previously Filed
Motion For Scientific Paternity Testing And Filing of
Objection by Plaintiff. On September 21, 2017, the lower
court denied the motion to reset the hearing on the motion
for paternity testing previously denied by the hearing
officer and further noted that appellant's objection to
the hearing officer's denial was untimely.
November 16, 2017, appellant filed a motion and order for
devolutive appeal seeking review of a judgment "signed
on September 19, 2017 dismissing the matter." The trial
court granted the order of appeal on November 21, 2017.
Appellant contends the judgment at issue is a final
appealable judgment because it disposed of the entirety of
her case. First, we note the district court did not enter a
judgment on September 19, 2017, and we further note that the
record does not contain a judgment dismissing the Petition to
Establish Paternity and/or Filiation originally filed by
appellant. This petition is still pending. We can only assume
appellant intends to appeal the ruling entered by the lower
court on September 21, 2017, denying appellant's request
to reset the hearing on her previously filed motion for
paternity testing and further denying her attempt to submit
an untimely objection to the hearing officer's prior
denial of this motion on March 9, 2017.
considering the merits in any appeal, appellate courts have
the duty to determine sua sponte whether subject
matter jurisdiction exists, even when the parties do not
raise the issue. Input/Output Marine Sys. v. Wilson
Greatbatch Techs., Inc., 10-477 (La.App. 5 Cir.
10/29/10), 52 So.3d 909, 910. This Court cannot determine the
merits of an appeal unless our appellate court jurisdiction
is properly invoked by a valid final judgment. Id.
final judgments and interlocutory judgments expressly
provided by law are appealable. La. C.C.P. art. 2083. A
judgment that determines the merits in whole or in part is a
final judgment. La. C.C.P. art. 1841. The ruling at issue in
this case, which denies a request to reset a motion for
paternity testing no longer pending before the district and
declines to consider an untimely objection to that ruling,
does not determine the merits of the case in whole or in part
and is not an interlocutory judgment appealable by law.
on the foregoing, we find this Court lacks appellate
jurisdiction over this matter. We dismiss the appeal filed by
appellant without prejudice and remand this matter to the
trial court for further proceedings.
DISMISSED WITHOUT ...