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In re S.K.H.

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Twelfth District

July 1, 2013

IN THE MATTER OF: S.K.H.

APPEAL FROM CLINTON COUNTY COURT OF COMMON PLEAS JUVENILE DIVISION Case No. 20122095

Richard W. Moyer, Clinton County Prosecuting Attorney, Susan H. Cohen, for appellee.

Holly Simpson, for appellant.

OPINION

HENDRICKSON, P.J.

{¶ 1} Appellant, S.K.H., appeals from a judgment of the Clinton County Court of Common Pleas, Juvenile Division, adjudicating her a delinquent child for committing acts, which if committed by an adult, would constitute assault.

{¶ 2} S.K.H. attended school with A.N. On April 10, 2012, after class ended, S.K.H. waited for A.N. outside the classroom. When A.N. exited the classroom, S.K.H. struck A.N. and pulled her hair. The day after the altercation, A.N. went to the hospital where she was diagnosed with a mild concussion.

{¶ 3} As a result of this incident, the State of Ohio filed a complaint alleging S.K.H. was a delinquent child for an offense that would constitute an assault if committed by an adult, pursuant to R.C. 2903.13(A) and (C). Specifically, the state alleged S.K.H. caused or attempted to cause physical harm to A.N. by striking her repeatedly.

{¶ 4} A contested adjudicatory hearing was held on September 24, 2012. S.K.H., A.N., the investigating officer, Corey Pratt of the Wilmington Police Department, and S.K.H.'s mother, Barbara Wilson, all testified at this hearing. After hearing the evidence, the magistrate adjudicated S.K.H. a delinquent child as alleged in the complaint. The magistrate, without objection, proceeded to disposition. S.K.H. was placed on probation, given 10 days of house arrest, ordered to undergo a mental health assessment and follow through with all treatment recommendations, complete the STAR program, and pay court costs. On September 25, 2012, the juvenile court adopted the magistrate's decision. S.K.H. filed this appeal on October 4, 2012, raising three assignments of error for our review.

{¶ 5} As an initial matter, we note S.K.H. did not file any objections to the magistrate's decision. S.K.H.'s failure to object limits the scope of our review. Juv.R. 40(D)(3)(b)(iv) provides "[e]xcept for a claim of plain error, a party shall not assign as error on appeal the court's adoption of any factual finding or legal conclusion * * * unless the party has objected to that finding or conclusion as required by Juv.R. 40(D)(3)(b)." This court has previously held that "plain error may, in exceptionally rare cases, allow for correction of an error that was not properly preserved for appellate review in the case of a juvenile adjudication." In re Johnson, 12th Dist. Nos. CA2000-03-041 and CA2000-05-073, 2000 WL 1818546, *2 (Dec. 11, 2000). Accordingly, our review is limited to whether the juvenile court committed plain error in its adoption of the magistrate's decision. In re Z.C, 12th Dist. Nos. CA2005-06-065, CA2005-06-066, CA2005-06-081, and CA2005-06-082, 2006-Ohio-1787, ¶ 19.

{¶ 6} Juvenile proceedings are civil, rather than criminal, in nature. In re Anderson (2001), 92 Ohio St.3d 63, 65 (2001); In re Johnson at *2. The Ohio Supreme Court defined plain error in the civil context as an error that "seriously affects the basic fairness, integrity, or public reputation of the judicial process, thereby challenging the legitimacy of the underlying judicial process itself." Goldfuss v. Davidson, 79 Ohio St.3d 116 (1997), syllabus. Because the plain error doctrine originated as a criminal law concept,

in applying the doctrine of plain error in a civil case, reviewing courts must proceed with the utmost caution, limiting the doctrine strictly to those extremely rare cases where exceptional circumstances require its application to prevent a manifest miscarriage of justice, and where the error complained of, if left uncorrected, would have a material adverse effect on the character of, and public confidence in, judicial proceedings.

In re B.J., 12th Dist. No. CA2011-10-192, 2012-Ohio-3127, ¶ 9, quoting Goldfuss at 121.

{¶ 7} Assignment of Error No. 1:

{¶ 8} THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN ALLOWING INADMISSIBLE HEARSAY TO ESTABLISH AN ESSENTIAL ELEMENT OF THE ...


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