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Rogers v. Rogers

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, First Circuit

September 27, 2019

AQUENTEYA Q. ROGERS
v.
DARIOUS E. ROGERS

          On Appeal from the Twenty-Second Judicial District Court In and for the Parish of Washington State of Louisiana Trial Court No. 110, 811 The Honorable William J. "Rusty" Knight, Judge Presiding

          Sean S. Cassidy Baton Rouge, Louisiana Attorney for Plaintiff/Appellant, Aquenteya Q. Rogers

          Darious Rogers Bogalusa, Louisiana In Proper Person/Appellee

          BEFORE: HIGGINBOTHAM, PENZATO, AND LANIER, JJ.

          PENZATO, J.

         Appellant, Aquenteya Q. Rogers, appeals the portion of the trial court's judgment casting her with half the costs of the proceedings following denial of her petition for protection from stalking or sexual assault against Appellee, Darious E. Rogers. For the reasons that follow, we amend the trial court's judgment to vacate that portion of the judgment that assessed costs against Ms. Rogers.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         This matter arises out of an incident that occurred on April 15, 2017, whereby Ms. Rogers claimed that she was sexually assaulted by her second cousin, Darious Rogers, and that she was subsequently stalked by him. Ms. Rogers filed a petition for protection from stalking or sexual assault pursuant to La. R.S. 46:2171 et seq. or La. R.S. 46:2181 et seq. The Commissioner of the Twenty-Second Judicial District Court determined that Ms. Rogers failed to prove the allegations by a preponderance of the evidence. Ms. Rogers then filed an exception to the Commissioner's ruling denying her request for a protective order. The trial court held a hearing on the exception on September 25, 2017, whereby both parties presented testimony. The trial court orally noted that even after the conclusion of the testimony, it was uncertain as to what occurred on the night in question. Therefore, the trial court upheld the Commissioner's finding that no protective order was appropriate. The trial court also noted that it did not find Ms. Rogers's petition to be frivolous, but that it was not well-founded. The trial court divided the costs equally between the parties both in its oral reasons for judgment and in its October 17, 2017 signed judgment.

         Ms. Rogers appealed the October 17, 2017 judgment, which this court dismissed finding that the judgment was defective and not a final judgment for the purpose of an appeal because it did not contain appropriate decretal language and did not dismiss any claims or the petition. Rogers v. Rogers, 2018-0239 (La.App. 1st Cir. 9/21/18), 2018 WL 4523930, *2. Subsequent to this court's dismissal of the original appeal, the trial court signed another judgment dated October 22, 2018, denying Ms. Rogers's petition for protection, dismissing her petition with prejudice, and casting both her and Darious Rogers equally with court costs. It is from this judgment that Ms. Rogers appeals.

         LAW AND DISCUSSION

         Ms. Rogers only assigns as error that the trial court incorrectly cast her with half the court costs, even though the trial court found that her petition was not frivolous. The trial court in both oral reasons and in the October 22, 2018 judgment stated that it did not find the petition to be frivolous. Appellate courts review domestic protective orders for abuse of discretion. Rouyea v. Rouyea, 2000-2613 (La.App. 1st Cir. 3/28/01), 808 So.2d 558, 561.

         Louisiana Revised Statute 46:2136.1 provides:

A. All court costs, attorney fees, costs of enforcement and modifications proceedings, costs of appeals, evaluation fees, and expert witness fees incurred in maintaining or defending any proceeding concerning domestic abuse assistance in accordance with the provisions of this Part shall be paid by the perpetrator of the domestic violence, including all costs of medical and psychological care for the abused adult, or for any of the children, necessitated by the domestic violence.
B. However, if the court determines the petition was frivolous, the court may order the nonprevailing party to pay all court costs and reasonable ...

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