In the matter of C.E.N., 2015 N.C. App. LEXIS 391 (unpublished opinion)

Rule(s): (1) Notice of appeal must specifically designate each judgment or order from which appeal is taken.

(2)  Using incorrect criminal terminology from the bench does not invalidate an adjudication.

The juvenile was charged with committing common law robbery. Adjudicatory and disposition hearings were held on July 3, 2014. On July 9, 2014 the trial court filed an adjudication order finding the juvenile delinquent and a Level 1 disposition order was entered on the same day. On July 14, 2014 the juvenile gave written notice of appeal from the adjudication order only.

Rule 3(d) of the NC Rules of Appellate Procedure requires that the notice of appeal must specifically “designate the judgment or order from which appeal is taken.” In the present case, although the juvenile purported to appeal from the dispositional order as well, the Court determined that his arguments alleging error as to disposition were not properly before the Court. Consequently, the Court did not address the juvenile’s arguments regarding the trial court’s disposition order.

In the juvenile’s arguments regarding the adjudication order, the juvenile asserted that the trial court erred by (1) denying him his right to be present at “judgment” and (2) making insufficient findings of fact to support its adjudication. Specifically, the juvenile contended that although he was in court for all of the adjudicatory portion of the hearing, the trial court denied him his right to be present at adjudication. The record indicates that at the close of the adjudication portion of the hearing, the trial court announced its adjudication of the juvenile as “guilty” and then immediately proceeded to disposition. The juvenile contended that the trial court “rendered an erroneous adjudication order” at the hearing by using inappropriate criminal terminology and that the written order of adjudication the court later filed represented a substantive change from the “criminal conviction” the court announced from the bench.

The Court disagreed finding that while it was unfortunate that the district court failed to use the proper terms, the meaning of the court’s phrase “verdict of guilty” was utterly clear: the juvenile was responsible and adjudicated thusly. Further, the Court determined that the trial court did adjudicate the juvenile delinquent in the juvenile’s presence at the hearing by inquiring whether the parties were “ready to proceed to disposition,” which confirmed the juvenile’s adjudication. The Court also found that the written order did not represent a substantive change from the adjudication rendered at the hearing.

Next the Juvenile argued that the trial court erred in making insufficient oral and written findings of fact to support its adjudication. The Court disagreed noting that N.C.G.S § 7B-2411 does not require the trial court to make any oral findings of fact. Further, the Court has previously held that a written adjudication order satisfies the minimum requirements of N.C.G.S. § 7B-2411 when it provides the date of the offense, the class and level of the underlying offense, the date of the adjudication, and clearly states that the court considered the evidence and adjudicated the juvenile delinquent as to the petition’s allegation . . . beyond a reasonable doubt. In the present case, the Court found that adjudication order met each of the aforementioned requirements. Accordingly, the order was affirmed. http://appellate.nccourts.org/opinions/?c=2&pdf=32753

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