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In re J.H.

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Sixth District

June 21, 2013

In re J.H., A.H.

Trial Court No. JC11214276

Laurel A. Kendall, for appellant.

Dianne L. Keeler, for appellee.

DECISION AND JUDGMENT

JENSEN, J.

{¶ 1} This is an appeal from a judgment issued by the Lucas County Court of Common Pleas, Juvenile Division, which terminated all parental rights and responsibilities. Appellant, J.G., is the biological father of one of the three children identified in this case, and he appeals the order terminating his parental rights with respect to that child. The biological mother of all three children has not appealed the court's decision. Therefore, the issues discussed in this appeal are limited primarily to the evidence presented relative to appellant father's parental rights.

{¶ 2} Appellant's appointed counsel has filed a memorandum requesting to withdraw from the case, pursuant to Anders v. California, 386 U.S. 738, 87 S.Ct. 1396, 18 L.Ed.2d 493 (1967). For the reasons that follow, we grant counsel's request and dismiss the appeal.

A. Statement of Facts and Procedural History

{¶ 3} Appellant is the biological father of "J.H."[1] In November 2010, Lucas County Children's Services ("LCCS") received a referral for the mother of J.H. and J.H.'s half-sister indicating that the mother was (1) abusing drugs and alcohol; (2) had mental health issues; (3) lacked stable housing; and (4) failed to provide her daughter with medical care. Initially, LCCS engaged the mother in services without taking custody of the children.

{¶ 4} On April 26, 2011, LCCS was awarded temporary custody of J.H. and his half-sister after the mother reportedly stopped following through with services. On June 3, 2011, the mother consented to a finding of dependency and neglect of both children.

{¶ 5} The two children were placed with the mother's great aunt until the aunt suffered a stroke in February 2012. Between February and August 2012, J.H. and his sister lived in a foster home. In August 2012, they went to a new foster home where they remain. In September 2012, a third child, a baby girl, born to the mother in January 2012, joined her half-siblings in the second foster home.

{¶ 6} On September 5, 2012, LCCS filed a motion for permanent custody which was heard on October 29, 2012. At that hearing, LCCS sought permanent custody of J.H. and his sisters.

{¶ 7} Appellant attended the hearing, having been conveyed from prison, but he did not testify. Little testimony was offered regarding appellant, and the record does not indicate whether appellant has ever had any relationship with J.H. A LCCS caseworker testified that he contacted appellant in May 2011, after the agency was awarded temporary custody. Appellant expressed his disinterest in getting involved in the care of J.H., unless and until his paternity was established. By the time paternity was established, however, appellant was incarcerated. In May 2011, appellant went to prison after pleading guilty in two separate criminal cases: failing to comply with an order or signal of a police officer in violation of R.C. 2921.331(B) and (C)(5)(a)(i), a felony of the third degree and in the other case, unauthorized use of a motor vehicle in violation of R.C. 2913.03(A) and (D)(2). Appellant was sentenced to three years in prison. Appellant's expected release date is April 15, 2014.

{¶ 8} Appellant's counsel questioned the caseworker regarding the possibility of placing J.H. with either one of two of appellant's female relatives. The caseworker testified that he contacted each relative and met with one of them. Neither, however, was interested in pursuing the matter once each learned of the agency's desire to place all of the children together. As explained by counsel for LCCS,

Although we had some interest from a couple of father's relatives at the very end of this case, you've got to ask yourself where were they? They didn't even visit, they didn't call, they didn't ask for placement and then when they did talk to the caseworker, they appeared to be satisfied with the explanation that * * * we were looking for a place for all three [kids to remain] together and they didn't want to make that commitment to all ...

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