J.P., In Interest of, A95A2693

Decision Date14 March 1996
Docket NumberNo. A95A2693,A95A2693
Citation470 S.E.2d 706,220 Ga.App. 895
PartiesIn the Interest of J.P., a child.
CourtGeorgia Court of Appeals

Surrett & Coleman, Edward J. Coleman III, Augusta, for appellant.

Michael J. Bowers, Attorney General, William C. Joy, Senior Assistant Attorney General, Shalen A. Sgrosso, Stephanie M. Bauldauff, Assistant Attorneys General, Atlanta Glover & Blount, Gary A. Glover, Augusta, for appellee.

RUFFIN, Judge.

Anthony Pride appeals from the juvenile court's final order in this deprivation proceeding. He argues that the court's order, which returned his daughter J.P. to him, should be reversed and remanded with direction that the court dismiss the deprivation petition initially filed by the Richmond County Department of Family & Children Services ("DFACS"). For reasons which follow, we dismiss the appeal.

On March 20, 1995, DFACS took custody of Pride's daughter. DFACS did so following the conversation of one of its caseworkers with Dr. Barnard, a psychiatrist who was treating Pride. Dr. Barnard had treated Pride for a host of psychological problems, including substance abuse, paranoia, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Following the conversation, DFACS filed an affidavit by the caseworker and sought emergency custody of the child. After reciting the various psychological problems from which Pride suffered, the affidavit stated that Pride "reported [to Dr. Barnard] that he is afraid that he will hurt his daughter as he gets angry at her for crying and puts the child in a room and shuts the door to keep himself from hurting her." The petition stated that according to Dr. Barnard, "with Mr. Pride's condition, there are suicidal, homicidal and violent tendencies that should not be ignored."

A temporary custody hearing was held on March 29, 1995, but the hearing was not transcribed. On May 31, the juvenile court heard evidence on the deprivation petition, appointed a guardian ad litem, and continued the case until June 23, 1995. At that time, Dr. Barnard testified that based on his conversations with Pride and the results of neuropsychological tests Pride had taken, he felt it was his duty to call DFACS. Although he did not think that Pride presented an immediate danger to his daughter, Dr. Barnard did not disavow the affidavit; rather, he stated that "it had been rather compressed, that it needed some time and space in there. It made it all of a sudden look like ... [Pride] was a monster. If you stretch out his history you'll see that Mr. Pride has had problems over time." Dr. Barnard also confirmed the statement in the affidavit concerning Pride's fear of hurting his daughter.

1. The Department of Human Resources ("the Department") contends that Pride's appeal should be dismissed because he failed to make an application for discretionary appeal; the Department argues that under OCGA § 5-6-35(a)(2), all appeals concerning a change in child custody must be made by application. We disagree.

In In the Interest of D.S., 212 Ga.App. 203, 441 S.E.2d 412 (1994), we granted a discretionary appeal "to review the trial court's order placing ... custody of the ... children in the Department of Family & Children Services...." But in In the Interest of A.L.L., 211 Ga.App. 767(1), 440 S.E.2d 517 (1994), decided the same term as In the Interest of D.S., we specifically addressed the jurisdiction issue and found that appeals from a deprivation proceeding do not involve child custody and therefore do not require an application to appeal. We held that "[a] deprivation proceeding is to determine whether the child is a deprived child. OCGA § 15-11-33(a). If the child is found to be deprived, the court is authorized to allow the child to remain with his parents, or other custodian, or transfer temporary legal custody to another individual or agency. OCGA § 15-11-34(a). Although the juvenile court is authorized to determine who will exercise custody over a 'deprived' child, the proceeding itself is to determine whether the child is deprived and is not an action brought to decide custody matters concerning the child.... Anderson v. Sanford, 198 Ga.App. 410, 411 (401 SE2d 604) (1991)." (Punctuation and emphasis omitted.) In the Interest of A.L.L., supra. We held that an application for discretionary appeal was appropriate in In the Interest of L.W., 216 Ga.App. 222, 453 S.E.2d 808 (1995), because although the case had begun as a deprivation proceeding, "custody orders arising out of such proceedings are subject to the discretionary appeal procedures of OCGA § 5-6-35(a)(2). [Cits.] We therefore reject appellant's assertion that we must look at the nature of the underlying proceeding rather than the substance of the order complained of in determining whether the discretionary appeal procedures apply. Thus, orders dealing with child custody are subject to the discretionary appeal procedures of OCGA § 5-6-35(a)(2); [Cit.]." We note that this did not conflict with our holding in In the Interest of A.L.L., supra at 769(5), 440 S.E.2d 517 because the appellant in A.L.L. did not enumerate as error the order of temporary custody to his former wife, but rather, the juvenile court's determination that the children were deprived. Pretermitting whether an application was the proper vehicle for appeal in In the Interest of D.S., both the underlying proceeding and the order complained of in the instant case address whether Pride's child was deprived, not custody. Accordingly, under In the Interest of A.L.L., supra, and In the Interest of L.W., supra, we have jurisdiction to consider this appeal.

2. Pride contends that the deprivation petition should have been dismissed because in violation of OCGA § 15-11-21, there is no evidence that after J.P.'s removal from his home on March 17, an immediate investigation commenced which "sought a fuller explanation from Dr. Bernard [sic]". We disagree.

OCGA § 15-11-21(a) provides that "[i]f a child is brought before the court or delivered to a detention or shelter care facility designated by the court, the intake or other authorized officer of the court shall immediately make an investigation and release the child unless it appears that his detention or shelter care is warranted or required under Code Section 15-11-18." Under OCGA § 15-11-18, "[a] child taken into custody shall not be detained or placed in shelter care prior to the hearing on the petition unless: (1) [h]is detention or care is required to protect the person or property of others or of the child...." In this case, the caseworker's conversation with Dr. Barnard revealed Pride's serious psychological problems and his fear that he might hurt his daughter. It is clear that detention of J.P. was warranted under OCGA § 15-11-18 in order to protect the child. In addition, the order for shelter dated March 20, 1995, states that "the court from finding information brought before it that continuation in the home at this time would be contrary to the welfare of said [child] and it is necessary for the protection of said [child] that ... she be placed in shelter care...." (Emphasis supplied.) Although we find that in these circumstances, the acquisition of information by the court was an investigation under OCGA § 15-11-21(a), it is not clear the investigation was done "immediately" as the statute requires.

However, "[t]here is no transcript or record of the [March 29 temporary custody] hearing [or the May 31 deprivation hearing], nor is there any indication that appellant raised an objection to noncompliance with the [alleged lack of an immediate investigation] at the ... hearing[s]. Although the procedural requirements of the juvenile court code have been held to be mandatory, such requirements can be waived. [Cit.] In this case appellant apparently appeared at [both] hearing[s], but failed to properly raise the alleged procedural defect, thereby waiving [his] objection. [Cits.]" Irvin v. Dept. of Human Resources, 159 Ga.App. 101, 102, 282 S.E.2d 664 (1981). See also In re M.E.H., 180 Ga.App. 591, 349 S.E.2d 814 (1986).

3. Pride also contends the juvenile court erred in failing to dismiss the deprivation petition under OCGA § 15-11-33 once it found that J.P. should be returned to her father. That Code section provides that "[a]fter hearing the evidence on any petition alleging ... deprivation, the court shall make and file its findings as to whether the child is a deprived child.... If the court finds that the child is not a deprived child ..., it shall dismiss the petition and order the child discharged...." After ordering that J.P. be returned to Pride, the court's order states that "[o]ut of an abundance of caution, and not based on any finding that Anthony Pride has ever done any harm to the child, the Court is conditioning the return of the child on the following terms...." The conditions included that Pride continue to undergo counseling, that the child be placed in licensed daycare at DFACS's expense, and that DFACS be allowed to visit Pride's home as often as it determined necessary to monitor the child's status. Finally the court ordered that Pride's name be removed from the State's child abuse registry.

At the outset, we note that there is nothing in the record showing that Pride moved for dismissal of the petition. Furthermore, in light of the fact that the court's order specifically states that the conditions would remain in effect until January 5, 1996, any argument about the court's authority to impose the conditions is now moot. Accordingly, the appeal is hereby dismissed.

Appeal dismissed.

POPE, P.J., concurs.

BEASLEY, C.J., concurs specially.

BEASLEY, Chief Judge, concurring specially.

I concur in the judgment dismissing the appeal, but it is because there should have been an application for discretionary appeal as required by OCGA § 5-6-35(a)(2). I acknowledge that the appeal is moot in that the contested...

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3 cases
  • Callaway v. State
    • United States
    • Georgia Court of Appeals
    • July 31, 2001
    ...the subject matter is to be reviewed under the deferential abuse of discretion standard. In the Interest of J. P., 220 Ga.App. 895, 901, 470 S.E.2d 706 (1996) (Beasley, C. J., concurring specially). We observe that the interlocutory appeal procedure appears particularly appropriate where, a......
  • In re SJ
    • United States
    • Georgia Court of Appeals
    • November 23, 2004
    ...4. In the Interest of E.M., 264 Ga.App. 277, 278, 590 S.E.2d 241 (2003). 5. (Footnote omitted.) Id. 6. In the Interest of J.P., 220 Ga.App. 895, 897(1), 470 S.E.2d 706 (1996) (physical precedent only), aff'd, 267 Ga. 492, 480 S.E.2d 8 7. In the Interest of J.P., supra, 267 Ga. 492, 480 S.E.......
  • In the Interest of J.P.
    • United States
    • Georgia Supreme Court
    • January 21, 1997
    ...Surrett & Coleman, Augusta, for appellee. THOMPSON, Justice. We granted certiorari to the Court of Appeals in In the Interest of J. P., 220 Ga.App. 895, 470 S.E.2d 706 (1996), to clarify whether an appeal from a final order in a deprivation proceeding must be brought pursuant to the discret......

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