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C. J. v. State

Florida Court of Appeals, Fourth District

April 18, 2018

C.J., a child, Appellant,
v.
STATE OF FLORIDA, Appellee.

         Not final until disposition of timely filed motion for rehearing.

          Appeal from the Circuit Court for the Seventeenth Judicial Circuit, Broward County; Michael James Orlando, Judge; L.T. Case No. 16003031 DLA.

          Carey Haughwout, Public Defender, and Virginia Murphy, Assistant Public Defender, West Palm Beach, for appellant.

          Pamela Jo Bondi, Attorney General, Tallahassee, and Jessenia J. Concepcion, Assistant Attorney General, West Palm Beach, for appellee.

          PER CURIAM.

         The factors a juvenile court judge can consider in rendering a disposition are challenged in this appeal. In his appeal from an adjudication and commitment to the Department of Juvenile Justice ("DJJ"), the juvenile argues the trial court erred in: (1) permitting a forensic crime lab analyst to testify at the adjudicatory hearing; (2) admitting the analyst's report; and (3) considering the juvenile's subsequent arrests, without adjudication, during the disposition hearing. We affirm on the evidentiary issues, but reverse the disposition and remand the case for a new disposition without consideration of the charges for which there has been no adjudication.

         The State charged the juvenile with possession of marijuana under twenty grams, a first degree misdemeanor. The court denied a motion to suppress, and the matter proceeded to an adjudicatory hearing.

         When the State sought to introduce testimony from a forensic crime lab analyst, defense counsel objected and requested a Richardson hearing. It argued the State improperly noticed the lab analyst as a BSO Chemist on the witness list, and failed to produce the lab results until the morning of the hearing. As a result, defense counsel asked the court to exclude the lab analyst's testimony and lab report.

         The State responded that the BSO chemist was listed as a witness because there is no way of knowing which chemist is actually going to test the substance when discovery is filed. It also claimed the juvenile was not prejudiced because he was on notice he would be receiving lab reports. And, the State could not have provided the report sooner because BSO has a lab policy to not test drugs until shortly before trial.

         Defense counsel replied the juvenile was prejudiced because one of his defense theories was that there was no marijuana in the cigarette taken by police. Defense counsel also argued the State's practice of waiting until the last minute to test evidence prejudices all defense attorneys.

         The trial court then ruled:

Okay. So, under the circumstances as presented, by definition because of the way this county operates, I don't find that it's a willful act on behalf of the State although I sympathize with how the process works. I don't believe that the extreme sanction of the exclusion of the evidence nor the prohibition of this witness testifying is warranted under the circumstances presented.
If you feel that you need a recess for a few minutes I'll certainly entertain that. But to exclude it or prevent this witness from testifying, that will be denied; nor did I find any willful act -- any act that rises to the level of a willful act or an intentional act. Okay. So, noted for the record.

         The report was admitted over defense objection. The trial court found the juvenile guilty. The trial court held the ...


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