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In re Stedman

Filed: January 27, 1982.

IN THE MATTER OF: MARIO LOPEZ STEDMAN


On certiorari to review an order by Allen (J.B., Jr.), J., entered 16 February 1981 in Alamance District Court, allowing respondent's motion to suppress fingerprint evidence and dismiss four juvenile petitions alleging the felonious offenses of kidnapping, rape, armed robbery and assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious injury.

Huskins, Justice. Justices Exum and Carlton concur in part and dissent in part.

Huskins

On 3 December 1978 when the offenses described in the four juvenile petitions were committed, Mario Lopez Stedman was fifteen years, nine months and seventeen days old, and Article 23 of Chapter 7A of the General Statutes (G.S. 7A-277 through 7A-289), as contained in Volume 1B (replacement 1969) was in effect.

Effective 1 January 1980, Article 23 of Chapter 7A of the General Statutes (G.S. 7A-277 through 7A-289) was repealed by 1979 Session Laws, Chapter 815, section 1, and the North Carolina Juvenile Code, which includes Articles 41 through 57 of Chapter 7A of the General Statutes (Volume 1B, replacement 1981), was enacted in lieu thereof.

Former G.S. 7A-279 reads in pertinent part as follows:

The court shall have exclusive, original jurisdiction over any case involving a child . . . who is alleged to be delinquent, . . . except as otherwise provided. This jurisdiction shall be exercised solely by the district judge.

Former G.S. 7A-280 reads in pertinent part as follows:

Felony cases. -- If a child who has reached his fourteenth birthday is alleged to have committed an offense which constitutes a felony, the judge shall conduct a preliminary hearing to determine probable cause after notice to the parties as provided by this article. Such hearing shall provide due process of law and fair treatment to the child, including the right to counsel, privately retained or at State expense if indigent.

If the judge finds probable cause, he may proceed to hear the case under the procedures established by this article, or if the judge finds that the needs of the child or the best interest of the State will be served, the judge may transfer the case to the superior court division for trial as in

the case of adults. The child's attorney shall have a right to examine any court or probation records considered by the court in exercising its discretion to transfer the case, and the order of transfer shall specify the reasons for transfer.

If the alleged felony constitutes a capital offense and the judge finds probable cause, the judge shall transfer the case to the superior court division for trial as in the case of adults.

Likewise, the new Juvenile Code gives the district court exclusive original jurisdiction over any case involving a juvenile alleged to be delinquent. For purposes of determining jurisdiction, the age of the juvenile at the time of the alleged offense governs. G.S. 7A-523. Once the district court obtains jurisdiction over a juvenile, that jurisdiction continues until terminated by order of the court or until the juvenile reaches his eighteenth birthday. G.S. 7A-524.

Thus, under both the old law and the new, it is clear that on 3 December 1978 the district court had exclusive original jurisdiction over the cases involving Mario Lopez Stedman. Since the cases had not been transferred to the superior court for trial as in case of adults, the bills of indictment returned by the Alamance Grand Jury on 6 August 1979 were void for lack of jurisdiction; and Judge Donald L. Smith, presiding over Alamance Superior Court, properly quashed the bills of indictment on 30 October 1979.

We note at this point that G.S. 15A-502, as written and in effect on 3 December 1978, read in pertinent part as follows:

(a) A person charged with the commission of a felony or a misdemeanor may be photographed and his fingerprints may be taken for law-enforcement records only when he has been:

(1) Arrested or committed to a detention facility, or

(2) Committed to imprisonment upon conviction of a crime, or

(3) Convicted of a felony.

(b) This section does not authorize the taking of photographs or fingerprints when ...


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