IN THE MATTER OF:
No. 05 JB 665
Attorney General Roy Cooper, by Assistant Attorney General
Kathleen U. Baldwin, for the State.
James N. Freeman, Jr., for juvenile-appellant.
In order to attack the inadequacy of a transcript on appeal, an appellant must identify some claim or issue that the inadequate transcript prevents her from raising on appeal.
On 6 September 2005, a juvenile petition was filed in Guilford County District Court alleging that C.A.S. (juvenile) committed felonious breaking and entering and felonious larceny pursuant to felonious breaking and entering. On 18 November 2005, a hearing on the matter was held. Juvenile was adjudicated to be delinquent. On 23 January 2006, a disposition hearing was held. On 2 February 2006, Judge Susan E. Bray entered an order placing juvenile on probation for six months. Juvenile gave notice of appeal in open court. On 14 February 2006, the trial court directed that a court reporter be sent duplicate audio tapes of the hearings in this matter for transcription. See N.C. Gen. Stat. § 7A-198(c) (2005). Upon receipt, the court reporter determined that the audio tapes were of poor quality, inaudible, and that she was unable to transcribe the proceedings. On 12 April 2006, the court reporter notified the Clerk of Court that she was unable to transcribe the proceedings and returned the audio tapes. Juvenile's appellate counsel contacted the Assistant District Attorney who represented the State before the trial court. She advised juvenile's appellate counsel that she did recall the case, that the State presented two witnesses, that she had a fairly good memory of the evidence presented by the State, and that she did not recall whether juvenile presented any evidence or interposed any objections during the trial. The record does not show that juvenile's appellate counsel spoke with juvenile's trial counsel, the courtroom clerk, or the trial judge concerning what transpired during the proceedings.
In her sole argument on appeal, juvenile contends that the trial court deprived her of her constitutional rights by failing to provide a means by which her proceedings could be transcribed. We disagree.
Indigent appellants are entitled to a transcript of their proceedings if necessary for adequate and effective appellate review. In re Bullabough, 89 N.C. App. 171, 177-78, 365 S.E.2d 642, 645-646 (1988). Juveniles are presumed indigent. N.C. Gen.Stat. § 7B-2000(b) (2005). An inadequate transcript, precluding the formulation of an adequate record for appellate review, may be the basis of an award of a new trial. State v. Sanders, 312 N.C. 318, 320, 321 S.E.2d 836, 837 (1984) (per curiam).
N.C. Gen. Stat. § 7B-2410 requires that all adjudicatory and dispositional hearings upon allegations that a juvenile is undisciplined or delinquent be recorded by stenographic notes or electronic or mechanical means. See also In re Lineberry, 154 N.C. App. 246, 257, 572 S.E.2d 229, 237 (2002), cert. denied, 356 N.C. 672, 577 S.E.2d 624 (2003). N.C. Gen. Stat. § 7B-806 also requires that all adjudicatory and dispositional hearings upon allegations that a juvenile is abused, neglected, or dependent be recorded by stenographic notes or electronic or mechanical means. See also In re Clark, 159 N.C. App. 75, 80, 582 S.E.2d 657, 660 (2003). This Court has held that general allegations of prejudice will be insufficient to show reversible error resulting from an inadequate transcript in cases arising from allegations that a juvenile is abused, neglected, or dependent. See, e.g., In re Peirce, 53 N.C. App. 373, 382, 281 S.E.2d 198, 204 (1981) (holding that without specific allegations, it is impossible for the appellate court to determine whether the respondent-appellant in a termination of parental rights proceeding was prejudiced by an inadequate transcript). Because N.C. Gen. Stat. § § 7B-806 & 2410 both require the recordation of juvenile proceedings regardless of the type, we conclude that in cases involving allegations that a juvenile is undisciplined or delinquent, general allegations ofprejudice will be insufficient to show reversible error resulting from an inadequate transcript. Cf. Peirce, at 382, 281 S.E.2d at 204. An appellant must identify some claim or issue which the inadequate transcript denies their ability to raise on appeal.
We further note that there are other means available for an appellant to compile an adequate record of the evidence presented at trial. Trial counsel of both parties as well as the trial judge may be consulted for reconstruction of the record. See In re Caldwell, 75 N.C. App. 299, 303-304, 330 S.E.2d 513, 517 (1985). In addition, the trial court has authority to settle the record on appeal. N.C. R. App. P. 11(c) (2007).
In the instant case, juvenile has made only general allegations of prejudice by the absence of transcripts of the hearings in this matter. She has failed to show that she was prejudiced in any manner by the absence of transcripts. No specific allegations have been made in the record of what the transcripts would have contained. Cf. In re Bradshaw, 160 N.C. App. 677, 681, 587 S.E.2d 83, 86 (2003) (holding that general allegations of prejudice were insufficient to reverse and remand a termination of parental rights matter for a new hearing). Further, alternative devices may have been available to juvenile, substantially equivalent to a transcript, but have not been consulted. Accordingly, this Court can find no reversible error resulting from the absence of the transcripts. This assignment of error is without merit.
Chief Judge MARTIN and Judge STEPHENS concur.
Report per Rule 30(e).
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