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Arkansas Department of Human Services v. State

Court of Appeals of Arkansas, Division III

February 1, 2017

ARKANSAS DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES APPELLANT
v.
STATE OF ARKANSAS APPELLEE

         APPEAL FROM THE JEFFERSON COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NOS. 35JV-15-424; 35JV-16-9] HONORABLE EARNEST E. BROWN, JR., JUDGE

         AFFIRMED IN PART; DISMISSED IN PART

          Nader G. Afsordeh, Office of Chief Counsel, for appellant.

          Leslie Rutledge, Att'y Gen., by: Adam Jackson, Ass't Att'y Gen., for appellee.

          ROBERT J. GLADWIN, Judge.

         The Arkansas Department of Human Services (ADHS) appeals the March 3, 2016 order denying its motion for reconsideration and the March 7, 2016 orders of commitment filed by the Jefferson County Circuit Court in three juvenile-delinquency cases, J.O., P.L., and J.W. ADHS does not appeal the actual determination of delinquency in these matters but appeals the limitations and requirements placed on ADHS by the orders issued by the trial court. Specifically, ADHS argues that this court should (1) reverse the denial of the motions to intervene filed by ADHS, Division of Youth Services (DYS); (2) find that the limitations placed on ADHS as it relates to its ability to place juveniles in a juvenile detention center infringes on its statutory authority; and (3) find that the trial court incorrectly interpreted Arkansas Code Annotated section 9-28-209(a)(1) (Repl. 2015) to mean that ADHS must deliver juveniles to the observation-and-assessment center immediately upon commitment. We affirm the denial of ADHS's motions to intervene in the cases of J.O. and P.L., and we dismiss the remainder of ADHS's appeal.

         Facts

         On February 9, 2016, J.O. was adjudicated a delinquent juvenile and committed to DYS. On February 11, 2016, P.L. was adjudicated delinquent and also committed to DYS. The trial court recommended that these juveniles be placed in a youth-services center. Both orders of commitment contained language that limited ADHS's ability to move the juveniles within its system of juvenile-service facilities, specifically stating that "DYS shall not permit the juvenile to remain at the Juvenile Detention Center for more than (30) days after the date of the original commitment order without specific written approval from this court."

         ADHS was not a party to either of these delinquency proceedings, but on February 17, 2016, ADHS filed motions to intervene and vacate the orders in both J.O.'s and P.L.'s cases. A hearing was held on these motions on February 18, 2016. At that hearing, the trial court denied ADHS's motion to intervene, finding that after a juvenile has been committed to DYS, ADHS assumes the role of the prosecution. No statutory basis for this finding was given during the hearing, but in the orders in both cases filed on February 19, 2016, the trial court found as follows:

1.That the Motion to Intervene is DENIED as:
a. Rule 24(a)(2) of the Arkansas Rules of Civil Procedure is not applicable in the current case, and b. That DYS assumes the jurisdiction formerly held by the prosecuting authority upon commitment to DYS and, therefore, intervention is not necessary in this matter.
2. That the Motion to Vacate paragraph #13 of the February [9th and 11th Orders] which state "DYS shall not permit the juvenile to remain at the Juvenile Detention Center [sic] for more than (30) days after the date of the original commitment order without specific written approval from this court" is DENIED as:
a. That this stipulation is in the best interest of the juvenile, pursuant to A.C.A. § 9-27-102 and A.C.A. 27-302, as it hastens the services they are to receive during their DYS commitment, b.That the stipulation is a reasonable request and a reasonable time frame,
c. That the stipulation of a time frame for removal from a Juvenile Detention Center is a common practice of courts ...

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