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In re J.A.W.

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eleventh District

June 17, 2013

IN THE MATTER OF: J.A.W., a.k.a. W.

Civil Appeal from the Trumbull County Court of Common Pleas, Juvenile Division, Case No. 2010 CH 21.

Mark I. Verkhlin, (For Appellant Jeffrey Wells).

Susan Porter Collins, (For Appellee Trumbull County Children Services Board).

Rhonda L Granitto Santha, (Guardian ad litem).

OPINION

TIMOTHY P. CANNON, P.J.

{¶1} Appellant, Jeffrey A. Wells, appeals the judgment of the Trumbull County Court of Common Pleas, Juvenile Division, terminating his parental rights concerning his son, J.A.W., a.k.a. W. Upon review of the record, the trial court's conclusions concerning the best interest of the minor child are supported by competent, credible evidence; accordingly, we must affirm the judgment.

{¶2} J.A.W. was born on March 5, 2010. On March 18, 2010, Trumbull County Children Services Board ("TCCSB") filed a complaint alleging J.A.W. to be abused and dependent as he tested positive for cocaine at birth. Brittany Watson, the child's natural mother, signed a voluntary placement with Trumbull County Children Services Board ("TCCSB") and was subsequently deemed to have legally abandoned the child. Guardian ad litem Rhonda Granitto Santha was appointed. Paternity testing established appellant as the biological father.

{¶3} On January 13, 2011, TCCSB filed a motion to grant appellant temporary custody of J.A.W. The trial court granted the motion subject to a Protective Supervision Order ("PSO"). J.A.W. was placed with appellant subject to the PSO on February 8, 2011. The agency retained voluntary temporary custody from March 3 to March 18, 2011, due to appellant's incarceration on an outstanding traffic matter.

{¶4} J.A.W. returned to his father on March 18, 2011. Appellant was arrested on April 12, 2011, for obstruction of official business. J.A.W. returned to agency custody on April 12, 2011, pursuant to Juv.R. 6(A)(3)-law enforcement authority.

{¶5} On July 8, 2011, a magistrate's decision recommended that custody of J.A.W. be returned to appellant. Prior to the trial court's adoption of the decision, appellant tested positive for cocaine. The magistrate's decision was vacated and temporary custody through TCCSB continued. Appellant was again incarcerated from December 25, 2011, to March 23, 2012.

{¶6} On April 6, 2012, TCCSB filed a motion for permanent custody. For cause, the agency listed appellant's ongoing legal issues, highlighting his numerous and consistent periods of incarceration and his failure to abide by the PSO terms, including his failure to submit to drug testing.

{¶7} On April 10, 2012, appellant requested the agency place J.A.W. with appellant's sister and her husband, Mr. and Mrs. Drake. Following an agency home-study and a July 13, 2012 hearing, J.A.W. was placed with the Drakes; however, this placement was short lived. The Drakes returned J.A.W. to TCCSB due to appellant's disruptive conduct, including his continued failure to abide by the placement order which prohibited appellant from taking J.A.W. from the home unsupervised.

{¶8} On August 30, 2012, TCCSB filed a dependency complaint, which requested custody and alleged that appellant had been disruptive to the legal placement efforts, and as a result, J.A.W. did not have a permanent, stable home.

{¶9} The trial court held a dispositional hearing on November 1, 2012. Appellant was present during the hearing and represented by court-appointed counsel. During the hearing, the trial court heard testimony from the Drakes, the TCCSB caseworker, and the guardian ad litem. Appellant also addressed the trial court after requesting that his trial counsel withdraw from the case.

{¶10} Following the hearing-the details and findings of which are discussed at length below-the magistrate recommended permanently terminating the parental rights of Brittany Watson and appellant with respect to J.A.W. Timely objections to the magistrate's decision were filed. The trial court overruled the objections and adopted the magistrate's decision.

{¶11} Appellant asserts two assignments of error that, for ease of discussion, will be addressed in reverse order. Appellant's second ...


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