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State ex rel. G.S.

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Fourth Circuit

December 4, 2019

STATE OF LOUISIANA IN THE INTEREST OF G.S.

          APPEAL FROM JUVENILE COURT ORLEANS PARISH NO. 2018-109-02-DQ-B, SECTION "B" Honorable Tammy M. Stewart, Judge

          Leon Cannizzaro District Attorney Donna Andrieu Scott G. Vincent DISTRICT ATTORNEY'S OFFICE ORLEANS PARISH Assistant District Attorney

          Theodore Knatt ORLEANS PARISH JUVENILE COURT COUNSEL FOR APPELLANT

          Tenee Felix LOUISIANA CENTER FOR CHILDREN'S RIGHTS COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLEE

          Court composed of Judge Daniel L. Dysart, Judge Joy Cossich Lobrano, Judge Tiffany G. Chase

          JOY COSSICH LOBRANO JUDGE

         The State of Louisiana ("State") appeals the June 13, 2019 judgment of the juvenile court that dismissed the State's delinquency petition against G.S. ("Minor"), finding that the State failed to commence the adjudication hearing within the required statutory time period. For the reasons that follow, we reverse the judgment and remand with instructions.

         On September 24, 2017, Minor was arrested for violating La. R.S. 14:56, simple criminal damage to property in an amount less than $1, 000, a misdemeanor. Minor was thirteen years old at the time of his arrest and was released from custody to the care of Minor's aunt ("Aunt"), who provided an address on Avalon Way in New Orleans, Louisiana, the location of the alleged crime.

         On April 18, 2018, the State filed a delinquency petition alleging that Minor violated La. R.S. 14:56. Aunt is listed in the petition as Minor's guardian. The record reflects that someone at the Avalon Way address told a process server that Minor and Aunt had moved to Las Vegas, Nevada, but would give them the message.[1]

         On May 10, 2018, at a pre-hearing conference, the juvenile court referred Minor's appointed attorney from the Louisiana Center for Children's Rights ("LCCR") and the State's attorney to find a current address on Minor and his parent(s) and/or guardian(s). On June 21, 2018, a possible address in Las Vegas was obtained by the juvenile court. However, two attempts by certified mail to the Las Vegas address were returned unclaimed.

         On May 3, 2019, more than one year after the delinquency petition was filed, Minor's attorney moved to dismiss the petition because the State failed to commence trial within one year from the date of institution of the prosecution of the misdemeanor pursuant to La. C.Cr.P. art. 578(A)(3), which reads:

A. Except as otherwise provided in this Chapter, no trial shall be commenced nor any bail obligation be enforceable:
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(3) In misdemeanor cases after one year from the date of institution of the prosecution.

         In response, the State argued that the statutory time was interrupted citing La. C.Cr.P. art. 579(A)(2), which provides:

A. The period of limitation established by Article 578 shall be interrupted if:
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(2) The defendant cannot be tried because of insanity or because his presence for trial cannot be obtained by legal process, or for any other cause beyond the control of the state[.]

         On June 13, 2019, after considering the motion, the juvenile court dismissed the delinquency petition "pursuant to Louisiana Code of Criminal Procedure Article 578." The State appeals this judgment.

         We find that the juvenile court erred in dismissing the delinquency petition adhering to the following principles in guidance of our review:

         First, a comprehensive juvenile system was established by the Louisiana Legislature to protect and rehabilitate juvenile offenders[2] and to "ensure that he shall receiveā€¦ the care, guidance, and control that will be conducive to his ...


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