Juvenile Officer v. A.G.R. (In re A.G.R.), No. WD 73007.

CourtCourt of Appeal of Missouri (US)
Writing for the CourtMARK D. PFEIFFER
Citation359 S.W.3d 103
PartiesIn the Interest of: A.G.R.Juvenile Officer, Respondent, v. A.G.R., Appellant.
Docket NumberNo. WD 73007.
Decision Date27 December 2011

359 S.W.3d 103

In the Interest of: A.G.R.Juvenile Officer, Respondent,
v.
A.G.R., Appellant.

No. WD 73007.

Missouri Court of Appeals, Western District.

Dec. 27, 2011.


[359 S.W.3d 105]

Megan C. Roth, Kansas City, MO, for Appellant.

Michael R. Fogal, Kansas City, MO, for Respondent.

Laurie V. Snell, Kansas City, MO, Guardian ad litem.

Before Division II: MARK D. PFEIFFER, Presiding Judge, and VICTOR C. HOWARD and CYNTHIA L. MARTIN, Judges.

MARK D. PFEIFFER, Presiding Judge.

A.G.R., a juvenile, appeals the Judgment of the Circuit Court of Jackson County, Missouri, Family Court—Juvenile Division (“juvenile court”) asserting jurisdiction over A.G.R. and providing services to him arising out of a charged status offense under section 211.031.1(2)(d).1 We affirm.

Facts and Procedural Background2

On July 28, 2009, sixteen-year-old A.G.R. was visiting his grandmother at his

[359 S.W.3d 106]

uncle's home, where she was residing. A.G.R.'s aunt observed A.G.R. lying on the couch with his two-year-old niece, R.D., on his lap below his genital area with her hand on his penis and his hand on her hand, rubbing her hand on his penis. A.G.R.'s aunt grabbed R.D. and told A.G.R. to get out. A.G.R. left the house. A.G.R.'s aunt called the police and reported a sex offense. Officer Corey Randall responded to the call and observed A.G.R. running on the sidewalk. Officer Randall stopped him and asked him to identify himself. A.G.R. gave Officer Randall his name and told her he was headed to the gas station to call his mother. The officer confirmed with police dispatch that A.G.R. was the person involved in the call. Officer Randall frisked A.G.R. for weapons and waited with A.G.R. on the sidewalk for other officers to arrive. The patrol division supervisor, Sergeant Mike Onka, was the first officer that arrived on the scene. Officer Randall then told A.G.R. that she was going to transport him back to his uncle's home where A.G.R.'s mother was waiting. Sergeant Onka opened the door to Officer Randall's patrol car and asked A.G.R. to step in and put his seatbelt on. A.G.R. looked at Sergeant Onka and stated: “It wasn't me. It was my body. I wasn't in control of my mind at the moment.”

Officer Randall transported A.G.R. to his uncle's house in the backseat of her patrol car. Officer Randall got out of the car to talk with A.G.R.'s mother, who informed Officer Randall that A.G.R. had a low IQ and multiple mental diagnoses. When Officer Randall returned to her vehicle, A.G.R. asked if he could talk to his mother. Officer Randall said, “[N]ot right now.” When Officer Randall was checking with A.G.R. to see if he had identification, A.G.R. stated: “Because she walked in and somehow her hand was on my dick.” Officer Randall told A.G.R. that she didn't want A.G.R. to talk about anything that had occurred. Officer Randall explained to A.G.R.'s mother that she was taking A.G.R. to headquarters and that he would be transferred to juvenile detention after that.

On July 29, 2009, the Juvenile Officer filed a “delinquency offense” Petition alleging that A.G.R. committed acts, which, if committed by an adult, would have resulted in a charge of felony statutory sodomy in the first degree, § 566.062, for having deviate sexual intercourse with R.D., who was less than fourteen years old. On July 31, 2009, a detention hearing was held, and the juvenile court ordered A.G.R. detained at home with electronic monitoring under the supervision of his mother. On August 12, 2009, A.G.R.'s counsel entered her appearance as A.G.R.'s attorney of record. On September 10, 2009, the Juvenile Officer filed a first amended petition, alleging that A.G.R. had committed “status offense” acts constituting behavior injurious to the welfare of a child in that A.G.R. exposed his genitalia and had deviate sexual intercourse with R.D. On the same date, the juvenile court ordered the Department of Mental Health to provide services to deal with any retardation and psychiatric issues that may exist and ordered the Children's Division to conduct an evaluation of A.G.R. for determining appropriate services and a treatment plan. On October 14, 2009, the Juvenile Officer filed a second amended petition, alleging that A.G.R. had committed “status offense” acts constituting behavior injurious to the welfare of a child in that A.G.R. exposed his genitalia and had his hand on the hand of R.D., moving her hand up and down his exposed penis.

After a court-ordered competency evaluation

[359 S.W.3d 107]

3 of A.G.R., the juvenile court determined that A.G.R. was mentally incompetent and, on January 20, 2010, the juvenile court appointed a guardian ad litem for A.G.R. 4 Thus, A.G.R. had both a lawyer to serve as his personal counsel and a guardian ad litem to advocate A.G.R.'s best interests. A.G.R.'s counsel filed a motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction or, in the alternative, to suspend proceedings while the juvenile remains incompetent. The juvenile court denied the motion and set the matter for final hearing. A.G.R.'s counsel renewed the motion on two additional occasions and each time the juvenile court overruled the motion for dismissal or suspension of the proceedings. The status offense case proceeded to disposition.

After receiving testimony and other evidence, the juvenile court granted the relief requested by the Juvenile Officer's second amended petition, finding that A.G.R. was in need of care and treatment. On September 15, 2010, the juvenile court entered a Judgment, ordering that A.G.R. be placed in the care and custody of his mother, under the joint supervision of Children's Division and Family Court Services; that he undergo behavioral therapy; that he not have contact with R.D.; and that he not have unsupervised contact with children under the age of twelve years old.

A case review hearing was held December 15, 2010. The juvenile court ordered that all previous orders were to remain in effect; A.G.R. was allowed supervised visits with his grandmother and was allowed to travel to the State of Texas with his mother in March 2011. On April 6, 2011, the juvenile court entered a Judgment releasing A.G.R. from the juvenile court's jurisdiction, finding that A.G.R. was no longer in need of services, ordering the prior orders terminated, and releasing and discharging A.G.R. from the juvenile court's jurisdiction. Though A.G.R. has been released from the jurisdiction of the

[359 S.W.3d 108]

juvenile court, A.G.R. appeals the Judgment below.

Jurisdiction

As a threshold issue, we consider whether we should dismiss this appeal sua sponte for mootness because A.G.R. is no longer under the jurisdiction of the juvenile court, and “[w]e do not decide questions of law disconnected from the granting of actual relief.” In the Interest of T.S.G. v. Juvenile Officer, 322 S.W.3d 145, 148 (Mo.App. W.D.2010) (internal quotation omitted). “With regard to justiciability, a case is moot if a judgment rendered has no practical effect upon an existent controversy.” Id. (internal quotations omitted). “The existence of an actual and vital controversy susceptible of some relief is essential to appellate jurisdiction.” Id. (internal quotations omitted). However, an appellate court may exercise its discretion to decide otherwise moot issues under three circumstances: “(1) the action becomes moot after the case has been argued and submitted; (2) the issue is one of general public interest and importance and is capable of recurring and likely to evade appellate review; or (3) the decision being appealed could have significant collateral consequences for one or more of the parties.” Id. (citations omitted).

Because the issues raised in A.G.R.'s motion to dismiss or to suspend proceedings are prevalent and likely to evade appellate review (given the nature of juvenile proceedings) and, also, are important issues of general public interest and of first impression in Missouri, we will proceed to address the issues raised by A.G.R. based on the public interest exception to the mootness doctrine. Id.

Standard of Review

We review a juvenile proceeding under the same standard we apply in other court-tried civil cases. In the Interest of T.L.C., 950 S.W.2d 293, 295 (Mo.App. W.D.1997). The judgment will be affirmed unless there is no substantial evidence to support it, it is against the weight of the evidence, or it erroneously declares or applies the law. Id. (citing Murphy v. Carron, 536 S.W.2d 30, 32 (Mo. banc 1976)). In determining whether this standard has been met, we view the evidence in the light most favorable to the judgment, and we disregard all contrary inferences. Id. We defer to the trial court's determinations of witness credibility and of the weight to be given their testimony. Id.

Analysis
Incompetency

In A.G.R.'s first point on appeal, he asserts that the juvenile court erred in denying his motion to dismiss or to suspend the proceeding while he remained incompetent, thereby violating his right to due process. A.G.R. argues that because the behavior underlying the charge would have been a crime if he had been seventeen at the time of the offense, he was entitled to the panoply of rights of a criminal defendant. Furthermore, he asserts that because he had been found incompetent by the juvenile court prior to adjudication, the proceedings should have been dismissed or suspended while he remained incompetent.

The flaw in A.G.R.'s argument is that this is not a case in which he was charged with, convicted of, and sentenced for a criminal offense. “Juvenile proceedings are in the nature of civil proceedings....” In the Interest of D.L., 999 S.W.2d 291, 293 (Mo.App. E.D.1999). Therefore, the due process rights accorded criminal defendants do not apply. “While due process requires competence to stand trial in a criminal matter, no such requirement

[359 S.W.3d 109]

exists in a civil case....” Juvenile Officer v. M.H. (In the Interest of W.J.S.M.), 231 S.W.3d 278, 283 (Mo.App. E.D.2007). “Parties who are...

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16 practice notes
  • In re Interest of S.B.A., No. ED 104664
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • 17 Octubre 2017
    ...one or more of the parties."4 ,5 530 S.W.3d 620 M.T. v. Juvenile Officer, 431 S.W.3d 539, 542-43 (Mo. App. E.D. 2014) ; see In re A.G.R., 359 S.W.3d 103, 108 (Mo. App. W.D. 2011) (an appellate court has discretion to decide an otherwise moot appeal when one of the exceptions to the mootness......
  • In re Of, No. ED 100463.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • 9 Septiembre 2014
    ...juvenile court's judgment and order that T.P.B. be discharged. II. FACTS Viewed in a light most favorable to the judgment, In re A.G.R., 359 S.W.3d 103, 108 (Mo.App.W.D.2011), the following facts were adduced at trial. On the afternoon of February 2, 2013, victim A.C. and a friend took a bu......
  • In re Interest of T.P.B., No. ED 100463.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • 9 Septiembre 2014
    ...juvenile court's judgment and order that T.P.B. be discharged.II. FACTSViewed in a light most favorable to the judgment, In re A.G.R., 359 S.W.3d 103, 108 (Mo.App.W.D.2011), the following facts were adduced at trial. On the afternoon of February 2, 2013, victim A.C. and a friend took a bus ......
  • In re T.D., ED109487
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • 12 Abril 2022
    ...of Review This Court reviews juvenile proceedings under the same standard applied in other court-tried civil cases. In re A.G.R., 359 S.W.3d 103, 108 (Mo. App. W.D. 2011). The judgment in a court-tried case will be sustained "unless there is no substantial evidence to support it, it is agai......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
14 cases
  • In re Interest of S.B.A., No. ED 104664
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • 17 Octubre 2017
    ...one or more of the parties."4 ,5 530 S.W.3d 620 M.T. v. Juvenile Officer, 431 S.W.3d 539, 542-43 (Mo. App. E.D. 2014) ; see In re A.G.R., 359 S.W.3d 103, 108 (Mo. App. W.D. 2011) (an appellate court has discretion to decide an otherwise moot appeal when one of the exceptions to the mootness......
  • In re Of, No. ED 100463.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • 9 Septiembre 2014
    ...juvenile court's judgment and order that T.P.B. be discharged. II. FACTS Viewed in a light most favorable to the judgment, In re A.G.R., 359 S.W.3d 103, 108 (Mo.App.W.D.2011), the following facts were adduced at trial. On the afternoon of February 2, 2013, victim A.C. and a friend took a bu......
  • In re Interest of T.P.B., No. ED 100463.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • 9 Septiembre 2014
    ...juvenile court's judgment and order that T.P.B. be discharged.II. FACTSViewed in a light most favorable to the judgment, In re A.G.R., 359 S.W.3d 103, 108 (Mo.App.W.D.2011), the following facts were adduced at trial. On the afternoon of February 2, 2013, victim A.C. and a friend took a bus ......
  • In re T.D., ED109487
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • 12 Abril 2022
    ...of Review This Court reviews juvenile proceedings under the same standard applied in other court-tried civil cases. In re A.G.R., 359 S.W.3d 103, 108 (Mo. App. W.D. 2011). The judgment in a court-tried case will be sustained "unless there is no substantial evidence to support it, it is agai......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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