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In re C.R.

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

December 17, 2019

IN THE INTEREST OF C.R., A MINOR, AND F.R., A MINOR: D.R. APPELLANT
v.
MISSISSIPPI DEPARTMENT OF CHILD PROTECTION SERVICES APPELLEE

          DATE OF JUDGMENT: 05/26/2017

          MARION COUNTY YOUTH COURT HON. SUSAN RHEA SHELDON TRIAL JUDGE

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANT: DEAN HOLLEMAN MARY CATHERINE PENROSE MITCHELL PATRICK TAYLOR GUILD

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: LAWRENCE ELDER HAHN

          BEFORE BARNES, C.J., WESTBROOKS AND C. WILSON, JJ.

          C. WILSON, J.

         ¶1. D.R. appeals an order from the Marion County Youth Court adjudicating his two children, F.R. and C.R., as abused children.[1] Because we lack jurisdiction, we dismiss D.R.'s appeal.

         BACKGROUND AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         ¶2. In April 2017, the Mississippi Department of Child Protection Services (CPS) received a report of alleged abuse of F.R. and C.R. by their father, D.R. The report stemmed from D.R. spanking F.R. on January 25, 2017.

         ¶3. After CPS conducted forensic interviews of the children and D.R., the Marion County Youth Court Referee filed "Intake Orders," referring the matters for formal proceedings by the youth court. The Marion County prosecuting attorney then filed two petitions with the youth court, alleging that F.R. and C.R. were abused children within the purview of the Youth Court Law, Mississippi Code Annotated sections 43-21-101 through - 915 (Rev. 2015).

         ¶4. The youth court held an adjudication hearing on both petitions on May 22, 2017. Following the hearing, the youth court adjudicated F.R. and C.R. as abused children.[2] The youth court then entered a disposition order without holding a disposition hearing. In its disposition order, the youth court merely withheld disposition, relinquished jurisdiction, and transferred the matter to a chancery court for further proceedings. D.R. now (prior to disposition) appeals from the youth court's adjudication order.

         DISCUSSION

         ¶5. The issue of jurisdiction has not been raised by the parties on appeal. But "[w]hether raised by the parties or not, this Court is required to note its own lack of jurisdiction." Darnell v. Darnell, 199 So.3d 695, 696 (¶3) (Miss. 2016) (quoting Michael v. Michael, 650 So.2d 469, 471 (Miss. 1995)). D.R. has appealed directly from the youth court's adjudication order without first allowing the youth court or the chancery court to conduct a disposition hearing and enter a disposition order as required by law.[3] Accordingly, D.R.'s appeal must be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction.

         ¶6. Pursuant to Mississippi Code Annotated section 43-21-601(1) (Rev. 2015), "[i]f [a] child has been adjudicated . . . an abused child, the youth court shall immediately set a time and place for a disposition hearing which shall be separate, distinct and subsequent to the adjudicatory hearing." (Emphasis added). Further, "[a]fter consideration of all the evidence and the relevant factors [presented at the disposition hearing], the youth court shall enter a disposition order . . . recit[ing] ...


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