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Arkansas Department of Human Services v. State

Court of Appeals of Arkansas, Division I

March 8, 2017

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

         APPEAL FROM THE PULASKI COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, ELEVENTH DIVISION [NO. 60JV-16-646] HONORABLE PATRICIA A. JAMES, JUDGE

          Nader G. Afsordeh, Arkansas Department of Human Services, 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.

         Appellant, the Division of Youth Services of the Arkansas Department of Human Services (hereinafter ADHS), appeals the June 28, 2016 order of commitment for A.L. and the June 30, 2016 order denying its motion to intervene and partially granting its motion to set aside the June 28, 2016 order filed by the Pulaski County Circuit Court. ADHS does not appeal the actual determination of delinquency with respect to A.L. in this matter, but rather, the limitations and requirements placed on ADHS by the order issued by the Eleventh Division of the Sixth Judicial District. ADHS argues that this court should (1) reverse the denial of the motion to intervene filed by ADHS and (2) find that the limitations placed on ADHS as it relates to its placement of A.L. upon commitment by the trial court infringes on its statutory authority. We affirm.

         I. Facts

         On June 28, 2016, A.L. was adjudicated a delinquent juvenile based on a rape charge, and he was committed to ADHS. The trial court recommended he receive sex-offender-specific treatment, mental-health treatment, the serious-offender program, and other educational services. The order specifically stated, "DYS [the Division of Youth Services] shall develop a treatment plan for [A.L.]." The order also contained language that limited ADHS's ability to move the youth within its system of juvenile-service facilities. Specifically, the order stated in paragraph 8 that "[ADHS] shall not, under any circumstances, place [A.L.] in any detention facility without the benefit of services for [A.L.]." The June 28, 2016 order did not specify what type of services were needed, whether they be for rehabilitation, education, medical, drug treatment, or something else. Paragraph 14 of the June 28, 2016 order also directed the Sheriff of Pulaski County, Arkansas, to forthwith take A.L. into custody and deliver him to the intake unit of the Youth Services Center of ADHS.

         ADHS was not a party to the delinquency proceedings, and on June 29, 2016, it filed a motion to intervene and set aside the June 28, 2016 order of commitment. Specifically, ADHS requested the trial court set aside paragraphs 8 and 14. No response was filed by the State, and no hearing was held on the motion. On June 30, 2016, the trial court denied ADHS's motion to intervene, stating, "This . . . is a delinquency case, and thus, subject to the Arkansas Rules of Criminal Procedure." The trial court agreed to vacate the language in paragraph 14 directing the Pulaski County Sheriff to immediately deliver A.L. to the intake center because paragraph 14 violated Arkansas Code Annotated section 9-28-207(a) (Repl. 2015), which provides that "[w]hen any youth is committed to [ADHS] as authorized in this section, the youth shall be under the exclusive care, physical custody, and control of [ADHS] from the time of the lawful reception of the youth by a youth services center until the youth is released from the physical custody of the division." But as to ADHS's objection to paragraph 8 of the June 28, 2016 order of commitment, which provided that "[ADHS] shall not, under any circumstances, place [A.L.] in any detention facility without the benefit of services for [A.L.], " the trial court pointed out:

[t]he Court is not ordering a specific placement for the juvenile while in the custody, care, and control of DYS. The Court's order merely recites that the juvenile must receive services while in DYS custody. Providing "appropriate services and programs" is the purpose cited by the state legislature in its creation of the Division of Youth Services. Ark. Code Ann. § 9-28-201 (Repl. 2015). Further references to DYS providing appropriate services, programs, and facilities to serve the juveniles in this state, and specifically to rehabilitate the juveniles in DYS custody, are referenced throughout statutes that outline the powers, duties, and responsibilities of DYS. See Ark. Code Ann. § 9-28-203 et seq. Therefore, this Court's commitment order is in harmony with the Division's statutory mandated purpose and obligations.

         ADHS then filed its timely notice of appeal on July 26, 2016, in order to challenge the trial court's determination that ADHS did not have a right of intervention in juvenile- delinquency matters and to challenge the limitations placed on ADHS in paragraph 8 of the June 28, 2016 order of commitment.

         II. Standard of Review and Applicable Law

         This matter involves a denial of a motion to intervene and statutory interpretation. Pursuant to Arkansas Rule of Civil Procedure 24(a)(2) (2016), three requirements must be met for intervention as of right: (1) the party must claim a recognized interest in the property or transaction that is the subject of the litigation; (2) the party's interest must be such that it might be impaired by disposition of the action; and (3) the party's interest is not adequately represented by existing parties. This court applies an abuse-of-discretion standard of review when considering the denial of a motion to intervene as a matter of right. See Hunter v. Runyan, 2011 Ark. 43, 382 S.W.3d 643; Christian v. McVesting, LLC, 2014 Ark.App. 509, 443 S.W.3d 578. An abuse of discretion means a discretion improvidently exercised, i.e., exercised thoughtlessly and without due consideration. Cochran v. Bentley, 369 Ark. 159, 251 S.W.3d 253 (2007).

         When the interest is identical with that of a party to the litigation, the interest is adequately represented, but where the applicant's interest is significantly different from that of any party to the action, it is not. UHS of Ark., Inc. v. City of Sherwood, 296 Ark. 97, 752 S.W.2d 36 (1988). If one seeking intervention will be left with a right to pursue an independent remedy against the parties, then he or she has no interest that needs protecting as of right. Billabong Prod., Inc. v. Orange City Bank, 278 Ark. 206, 644 S.W.2d 594 (1983).

         This court reviews issues of statutory interpretation de novo because it is for this court to determine the meaning of a statute. Berryhill v. Synatzke, 2014 Ark. 169, 432 S.W.3d 637. The basic rule of statutory construction is to give effect to the intent of the legislature. Id. Where the language of a statute is plain and unambiguous, the court determines the legislative intent from the ordinary meaning of the language used. Id. In considering the meaning of a statute, the court construes it just as it reads, giving the words their ordinary and usually accepted meaning in common language. Id. The court construes the statute so that no word is left void, ...


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