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In re J.C.C.

Court of Appeals of Texas, Eighth District, El Paso

January 5, 2018

IN THE MATTER OF J.C.C., A JUVENILE

         Appeal from the 65th District Court of El Paso County, Texas (TC# 1300999)

          Before McClure, C.J., Rodriguez, and Palafox, JJ.

          OPINION

          YVONNE T. RODRIGUEZ, JUSTICE.

         J.C.C., a juvenile, appeals from a judgment committing him to the Texas Juvenile Justice Department. We affirm.

         FACTUAL SUMMARY

         The State alleged in its petition that Appellant possessed more than four but less than 200 grams of heroin. See Tex.Health & Safety Code Ann. §§ 481.102(2), 481.115(a)(West 2017 and West Supp. 2017). Appellant waived his right to a jury trial and entered a plea of true to this allegation. Appellant's plea is supported by a judicial confession and stipulation. The trial court accepted the plea and found that Appellant had engaged in delinquent conduct, and it entered an adjudication order.

         At the disposition hearing, the State presented the testimony of Renee Mora, a juvenile probation officer familiar with the facts of the case and Appellant's probation history. Further, the State introduced into evidence the pre-disposition report which sets forth Appellant's juvenile record. The record shows that Appellant was first referred to the El Paso County Juvenile Probation Department in 2013 for four burglary of a vehicle offenses. The juvenile court adjudicated Appellant for two of those offenses and placed him on supervised probation without a curfew. Appellant committed technical violations of the probation order in 2014 and 2015, and these violations resulted in an increase in the level of probation. He was placed on supervised probation with an electronic monitor in January 2014. Following another technical violation, the trial court placed him outside of the home in APECS Challenge Academy. He was successfully discharged from APECS in July 2014 and placed on intensive supervised probation (ISP) under the Drug Court program. In January 2015, the trial court sustained a motion to modify based on a technical violation and placed Appellant on SHOCAP[1] Probation. In April 2015, the trial court adjudicated Appellant for two new offenses, evading arrest and failure to identify, and Appellant was placed in the Challenge Academy. After Appellant was successfully discharged from the Challenge Academy, the court placed him back on SHOCAP. Appellant committed a new technical violation in January 2016 and he was "recycled" back into the Challenge program. Appellant did not successfully complete the Challenge aftercare program. In September 2016, Appellant was referred to the Department again based on the offense involved in this case, possession of more than four but less than 200 grams of heroin.

         The State also introduced evidence regarding Appellant's substance abuse and mental health history. Appellant began using marihuana daily when he was twelve years of age. He has also used alcohol, spice, cocaine, and heroin. He was referred to substance abuse counseling in 2013 and 2014, but did not complete it. The Probation Department referred Appellant to Aliviane from September 2013 to March 2014 and he received substance abuse counseling as well as individual and family therapy. He underwent two weeks of partial hospitalization at University Behavioral Health (UBH) from March 17, 2014 through April 14, 2014.

         On May 1, 2014, Appellant underwent a psychological evaluation from Amanecer. Amanecer diagnosed Appellant with conduct disorder, moderate cannabis use disorder, parent/child relational problems, child physical abuse, academic or educational problems, and problems related to the legal system, and it recommended a physically-oriented behavior modification program. Appellant was referred to the Challenge program based on this recommendation. On June 2, 2014, Appellant was referred to Texas Tech University for a psychiatric evaluation, and he was diagnosed with ADHD, anxiety, and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). There is evidence that both Appellant and his mother were physically abused by Appellant's father. Appellant was also evaluated by Dr. Shiva Mansourkhani and diagnosed, with ADHD, PTSD, anxiety disorder, depressive disorder, cannabis use disorder, and conduct disorder. Dr. Mansourkhani recommended that Appellant receive trauma-focused therapy in a structural therapeutic environment and emphasized that Appellant might benefit from long-term placement in a facility that provided trauma focused-cognitive behavior therapy (TF-CBT). Based on this report, the Juvenile Probation Department recommended to the trial court that Appellant be committed to TJJD. According to Ms. Mora, TJJD could provide trauma-focused therapy in a structural therapeutic environment.

         In the disposition order committing Appellant to TJJD, the trial court expressly found that it is in Appellant's best interests to be placed outside of his home, reasonable efforts were made to prevent or eliminate the need for Appellant's removal from the home, and Appellant, in his home, cannot be provided the quality of care and level of support and supervision that he needs to meet the conditions of probation.

         COMMITMENT TO TJJD

         In his sole issue, Appellant contends that the trial court abused its discretion by committing him to the Texas Juvenile Justice Department because the trial court failed to provide him with any treatment for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in violation of Section 51.20 of the Texas Family Code.

         Standard of Review

         A juvenile court possesses broad discretion to determine a suitable disposition for a child who has been adjudicated as having engaged in delinquent behavior. See Tex.Fam.Code Ann. § 54.04 (West Supp. 2017); In re E.F.Z.R., 250 S.W.3d 173, 177 (Tex.App.--El Paso 2008, no pet.). Absent an abuse of discretion, we will not disturb the juvenile court's disposition or modification of a disposition. See In re E.F.Z.R., 250 S.W.3d at 176. The juvenile court's exercise of discretion regarding ...


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