In the Matter of E.A., __ N.C. App. __ (September 17, 2019)

Vacated and Remanded
  • Facts: E.A. was adjudicated delinquent for assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill and malicious conduct upon a government official and ordered to probation supervision under a Level 2 disposition. At a subsequent hearing on a motion for review, probation was revoked and E.A. was committed to a youth development center. This new disposition was ordered after the court received and considered a predisposition report, a risk assessment, and a needs assessment. The predisposition report referred to a clinical assessment completed by Haven House in which E.A. was diagnosed with conduct disorder and intensive outpatient services were recommended.
  • Grounds for appellate review:  While proper notice of the appeal was not given, the facts of the case are worthy of treating EA’s brief as a writ of certiorari pursuant to Appellate Rule 21. In addition, the State did not raise this jurisdictional issue in its brief and resulting prejudice to the State is not contemplated.
  • Mandatory referral to the area mental health services director: As established in In re E.M., __ N.C. App. __, disc. review denied, __ N.C. __, (2019), G.S. 7B-2502(c) mandates that the trial court refer a juvenile to the area mental health services director for appropriate action when faced with any amount of evidence that the juvenile is mentally ill. This statute envisions the area director’s involvement in the disposition and responsibility for arranging an interdisciplinary evaluation and mobilizing resource to meet the needs of the juvenile. The State conceded and the court agrees that EA’s case is indistinguishable from E.M. The evidence before the trial court presented EA as being mentally ill. Failure to refer him to the area mental health services director is reversible error. The dispositional order is vacated and remanded for referral to the area mental health services director.
Disposition Order
Mental Health Referral
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