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Roche' v. Green

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Third Circuit

November 13, 2019

JACOB ROCHE'
v.
STORMY GREEN

          APPEAL FROM THE FIFTEENTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT PARISH OF VERMILION, NO. 103141 HONORABLE DAVID BLANCHET, DISTRICT JUDGE

          Sam R. Aucoin Aucoin COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF/APPELLANT: Jacob Roche'

          Danielle N. Thompson Paul J. deMahy The Thompson Law Firm COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLEE: Stormy Green

          Court composed of Sylvia R. Cooks, Shannon J. Gremillion, and Van H. Kyzar, Judges.

          VAN H. KYZAR JUDGE

         The appellant, Jacob Roche, appeals a judgment of the trial court designating the natural mother, Stormy Green, as the primary custodial parent of their minor child and awarding Mr. Roche visitation. For the following reasons, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         Jacob Roche and Stormy Green are the natural parents of a minor child, E.W.G., born on March 15, 2013. The relationship between the parties has been tumultuous in the past until finally eroding to the point that Mr. Roche engaged an attorney to file the necessary paperwork to become the domiciliary parent of the minor child. The trial court temporarily granted ex parte custody to Mr. Roche on March 23, 2017, which was later rescinded after Ms. Green tested negative for illegal substances on a court-ordered drug screen. Physical custody of the minor child was to be shared on a seven-on-seven-off basis until a trial on the matter.

         The parties were then ordered to attend an evaluation with a local, court-appointed psychiatrist, Dr. Kenneth Bouillion. After interviewing each of the parties and the minor child in question, Dr. Bouillion produced a report opining that Mr. Roche was better suited to be the child's domiciliary parent. Ms. Green then deposed Dr. Bouillion, and the matter was set for a Permanent Custody Hearing.

         The hearing was held over the course of two days on April 18, 2018 and June 13, 2018. The deposition of Dr. Bouillion was introduced and filed into evidence, along with numerous exhibits from both the plaintiff and defendant. The trial court also heard testimony from multiple witnesses, including Dr. Mona Reed, who specializes in child psychology and testified for Ms. Green. The trial court took the matter under advisement and issued extensive written reasons for ruling on July 16, 2018, ultimately ordering joint custody of the minor child with Ms. Green being maintained as the domiciliary parent.

         Mr. Roche timely appealed the judgment of the trial court, assigning two errors:

1.The trial court erred in selecting an expert witness to assist it in its final decision, but erred when it, essentially, disregarded that expert's opinion and then characterizing that expert's opinion as "wrong" or "mistaken" in determining an expert does not try a case: the district judge does.
2. The trial court erred in choosing the natural mother as the domicilary parent when it found the Louisiana Civil Code[ art. 134]'s factors to be used in making that determination, favored the mother, ...

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