PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — Parents must receive legal notice when youths appeal determinations of juvenile delinquency, according to the South Dakota Supreme Court.

The state’s high court publicly issued the ruling on Thursday in “People of the State of South Dakota in the Interest of E.B., a minor child.

In a break from tradition, the unanimous opinion was issued “per curiam,” meaning no specific justice was listed as author. The court’s members are Chief Justice Steven Jensen and associate justices Janine Kern, Mark Salter, Patricia DeVaney and Scott Myren.

The court’s opinion considered an appeal by E.B. of a juvenile delinquency finding in 2021 by Seventh Circuit Judge Heidi Linngren and an unrelated appeal by S.A. of a juvenile delinquency finding.

The appeals were filed without serving legal notice on the youths’ parents. The Supreme Court determined that was a violation of state law governing the appeals process, specifically this requirement: “The appellant, or his or her counsel, shall serve the notice of appeal and docketing statement on counsel of record of each party other than appellant, or, if a party is not represented by counsel, on the party at his or her last known address.”

The attorney for E.B. argued that a previous decision by the South Dakota Supreme Court supported the position that parents don’t need to be notified in a juvenile delinquency appeal. The court’s justices disagreed:

“In B.C., we held that Indian tribes which had intervened in four consolidated abuse and neglect cases implicating the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) were entitled to service of a notice of appeal. We concluded the tribes were parties, and because they had not been served with the notices of appeal filed by parents in the four cases, we applied SDCL 15-26A-4 and dismissed each of the appeals. We did not hold that the tribes were different types of parties, as E.B. argues parents are in delinquency proceedings, but rather, we noted that the tribes ‘had compelling
interests in the outcome of the pending appeals.’ Parents in delinquency proceedings are no different; they have a vested interest in the outcome of an appeal in a juvenile proceeding.”

The court also disagreed with the argument that interests of E.B. and his parent were aligned and therefore the notice requirement didn’t apply:

“(S)uch may not always be the case between a parent and child in juvenile delinquency proceedings. In fact, there may be cases in which the parent is the victim of the child’s actions or cases in which the parent has been separately ordered to comply with conditions imposed by the court and is subject to contempt proceedings for failing to do so. Similarly, in cases in which a child is committed to the DOC (South Dakota Department of Corrections), the dispositional order contains directives related solely to the parents; for example, that they pay child support so long as the child remains in DOC custody.”

The court further said that a review of South Dakota’s laws “governing juvenile delinquency proceedings makes clear that parents are parties and are entitled to service of the notice of appeal. For example, SDCL 26-7A-30 provides that ‘[t]he court shall advise the child and the child’s parents, guardian, or custodian involved in any action or proceedings under this chapter or chapter 26-8A, 26-8B, or 26-8C of their constitutional and statutory rights, including the right to be represented by an attorney, at the first appearance of the parties before the court.'”

The court continued, “Further, the parents ‘shall be included as named respondents in the petition,’ SDCL 26-7A-43, and their presence is required at any hearing, except for a temporary custody hearing, SDCL 26-7A-118. Applicable statutes also impose certain obligations on parents, including the requirement to bring the child before the court, SDCL 26-7A21, -45, -50, and to financially support the child ‘who is the subject of proceedings under this chapter [26-7A] or chapter 26-8A, 26-8B, or 26-8C,’ SDCL 26-7A-94.”

The decision went on: “In regard to appeals from juvenile delinquency proceedings, SDCL 26-
7A-30 provides that the child’s parents are to be advised ‘of the right of the parties
to file, at the conclusion of the proceedings, a motion for a new hearing and, if the
motion is denied, the right to appeal according to the rules of appellate procedure
governing civil actions.’

“Similarly, SDCL 26-7A-112, which provides that ‘[a]n intermediate appeal or an appeal may be taken from a judgment, decree, or order under the provisions of this chapter and chapters 26-8A, 26-8B, and 26-8C according to the rules of procedure governing civil appeals,’ specifically refers to the parents as ‘parties to the action,'” the opinion continued. “Also telling, SDCL 26-7A-112 contains the additional requirement that the appealing party ‘serve the written notice of appeal and docketing statement upon the state’s attorney of the county where the judgment, decree, or order was entered and upon the attorney general’ but provides that ‘[t]he failure to serve the attorney general does not constitute a jurisdictional bar to the appeal.’ There is no similar statutory language excusing the failure to serve a parent—a party to the proceeding.”

The opinion concluded, ” This Court has required strict compliance with the jurisdictional
prerequisite that timely service of the notice of appeal be made on all parties in order to invoke this Court’s appellate jurisdiction. Respondent parents are parties in juvenile delinquency proceedings; therefore, S.A. and E.B. were required to timely serve them. Because both S.A. and E.B. failed to show timely service of their notices of appeal on all parties, this Court lacks appellate jurisdiction, and we must dismiss both appeals.”