Case Law Update: Opinions issued between October 2018 and February 2019

By John Paul Berlon

Dependency Cases

Interest of S.B., A18A1851 (1/4/19): Judgment affirmed. Child challenged the sufficiency of evidence of fingerprints to support offenses of burglary and attempted burglary. Palm prints found on window pane of where electronics were taken. Child had been a guest at home but a month before burglary was forbidden to return. The only reasonable hypothesis was that prints were impressed at time of burglaries. A trial court’s oral pronouncement is not a judgment until it is put in writing and entered as a judgment.

Interest of A.P., A18A1682 (2/15/19): Judgment affirmed. Child appeals adjudication of delinquency and denial of motion to suppress. Dispatcher reported a group of 14 to 15 year old juveniles were in the process of stealing vehicles. Complainant updated dispatch stating a group of 10 juveniles. Officer immediately went to the location reported by complainant through dispatch and spotted A.P. who matched the description and was leaving the particular area. The corroboration solidified the existence of the articulable suspicion. Officer had A.P. put his hands on his head while walking to another group. This act did not constitute a third-tier arrest. A.P. argued that State failed to carry burden of proving possession of handgun (16- 11-132). The weapon inside A.P.’s pocket was described as a small- caliber revolver and therefore sufficient evidence to find handgun.

Delinquency Cases

Interest of T.S., A18A0948 (10/23/18): Judgment affirmed. Mother appeals finding of dependency. Mother’s boyfriend shot children with a BB gun in the mother’s presence. The boyfriend tested positive for meth. Mother lacked housing or employment. Mother failed to partake in DFCS services in securing stable housing. Mother left shelter despite shelter’s efforts in helping the mother secure permanent housing. Mother returned to boyfriend. The evidence was sufficient to support finding that children were dependent based on abuse and neglect.

Interest of E.A., A18A1936 and A18A1937A: Judgment affirmed. Mother appeals denial of motion to dismiss dependency petition and the final disposition order entered on the basis that venue was improper and lack of service of process. Mother further asserted that the trial court failed to hold a hearing 72 hours after children were taken into protective custody. The Juvenile code does not provide a specific procedure for a motion to dismiss for lack of venue therefore the Civil Practice Act applies (15-11-4). The mother’s address included various hotels in Douglas and Cobb counties but the last address for the mother to receive public benefits was in Douglas County. Mother failed to raise the issue in the motion to dismiss for the failure to receive summons at least 72 hours before the adjudicatory hearing. The mother requested to hear the motion to dismiss prior to the PPH hearing. The mother had requested to continue. The mother objected to hear any of the evidence for the PPH hearing for the motion to dismiss.

John Paul Berlon is Senior Staff Attorney to the Hon. LeRoy Burke, III, Presiding Judge of Chatham County Juvenile Court.