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In re V.A.G.

Court of Appeals of Texas, Eighth District, El Paso

June 21, 2017

IN THE INTEREST OF V. A.G., A JUVENILE

         Appeal from the 65th District Court of El Paso County, Texas (TC# 1400506)

          Before McClure, C.J., Rodriguez, and Hughes, JJ. Hughes, J., Not Participating

          OPINION

          YVONNE T. RODRIGUEZ, Justice

         V.A.G., a juvenile, appeals from a judgment adjudicating her delinquent based on the jury's determination that she committed the offense of assault on a public servant and committing her to the Texas Juvenile Justice Department (¶JD). See Tex.Fam.Code Ann. § 54.03 (West 2014); Tex.Penal Code Ann. § 22.01(a), (b)(1) (West Supp. 2016). We affirm.

         FACTUAL SUMMARY

         On November 3, 2014, Appellant was in juvenile court on an unrelated matter and Michelle Ramirez, a juvenile probation officer, recommended that Appellant be detained. Appellant became extremely upset when the judge did not allow her to hug her mother before leaving the courtroom, and the bailiff and another person had to escort Appellant from the courtroom. Appellant was placed in a holding cell and Ramirez noticed that Appellant was hitting her head against a window. Upon being informed about Appellant's conduct in the holding cell, the juvenile court instructed Ramirez to ask Kim Shumate to come to the holding cell and assess Appellant. After getting her paperwork signed, Ramirez went back to the area where the holding cell was located and saw Appellant in the hallway. Appellant appeared to be calm, but upon seeing Ramirez, Appellant charged at her while saying, "F ----- g bitch, I'm going to kick your ass." Appellant grabbed Ramirez by the hair causing her to drop the files she was carrying. Another juvenile probation officer, Christopher Short, grabbed Appellant by the arms from behind and commanded her to let go of Ramirez. After being released by Appellant, Ramirez kneeled to pick up the files she had dropped, and Appellant suddenly kicked her in the stomach. Ramirez experienced pain when Appellant pulled her hair and kicked her in the stomach.

         The jury found that Appellant engaged in delinquent conduct by committing assault on a public servant as alleged in Count 3 of the second amended petition. Following the disposition hearing, the juvenile court found that Appellant is in need of rehabilitation, the protection of both the public and the juvenile requires that disposition be made, it is in Appellant's best interest to be placed outside the home, reasonable efforts were made to prevent or eliminate the need for her removal from the home and to make it possible for Appellant to return to her home, and Appellant, in her home, cannot be provided the necessary quality of care and level of support. Based on these findings, the court committed Appellant to TJJD.

         EXCLUSION OF EVIDENCE

         In her first issue, Appellant argues that the trial court abused its discretion by excluding evidence of Appellant's "mental impairments" during the adjudication hearing because it was relevant to her state of mind. In order to present an issue on appeal, the record must show that the complaint was made to the trial court by a timely request, objection, or motion that stated the grounds for the ruling that the complaining party sought from the trial court with sufficient specificity to make the trial court aware of the complaint. Tex.R.App.P. 33.1(a)(1). When the issue is related to the exclusion of evidence, the party must inform the court of the substance of the evidence by an offer of proof unless the substance was apparent from the context. Tex.R.Evid. 103(a)(2).

         The State filed a written motion in limine seeking to restrict the mention of the following matters in the jury's presence until the trial court had determined the evidence is admissible:

The defense intention, if there be one, to mention or in any way allude that the Juvenile, has ever been psychologically or psychiatrically evaluated; the State would show this Honorable Court that the aforesaid comments would, during the adjudication stage of trial, be:
(a)an improper attempt to invoke the sympathy of the jury;
(b)an improper attempt to mislead the jury into believing that solely because Juvenile, was either psychologically or psychiatrically evaluated necessarily means that said Juvenile lacked the requisite mens rea to commit the offense made the basis of the above-styled and numbered cause.

         The trial court conducted a hearing on the motion in limine prior to the beginning of evidence. Appellant's counsel broadly argued that he should be allowed to cross-examine the State's witnesses about Appellant's mental health diagnoses which were the basis for her being placed on special needs juvenile probation, but he failed to explain the relevance of the evidence even when the trial court questioned its relevance. Following jury selection, the trial court granted the State's motion in limine on this issue. During trial, Appellant did not offer or ...


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