Civil Appeal from the Court of Common Pleas, Juvenile Court, of Columbiana County, Ohio Case No. J2004-0100-5
Atty. Robert Herron Columbiana County Prosecutor Atty. Allyson Lehere Assistant Prosecuting Attorney For Plaintiff-Appellee
Atty. Donna J. McCollum For Defendant-Appellant
Hon. Cheryl L. Waite Hon. Gene Donofrio Hon. Joseph J. Vukovich
(¶1} Appellant Tiffany Dellapenna-Moore appeals the judgment of the Columbiana County Court of Common Pleas, Juvenile Division, permanently terminating her parental rights over her minor child, G.G. The child originally came under the jurisdiction of the juvenile court as a neglected child in 2004 at the age of five, and was involved again in 2008. At the time of the final hearing, G.G. was 13 years old. During the seven years that G.G. has been under the care of the Columbiana County Department of Jobs and Family Services ("CCDJFS"), Appellant had only sporadically visited the child, allowed an abusive husband to have contact with the child in violation of court orders, failed to participate in counseling, and failed to provide a safe living environment for the child. Appellant also was violent, and was charged with domestic violence three times. She was serving a period of probation for a domestic violence conviction at the time of the final hearing. Appellant also suffers from multiple mental health problems. She herself admitted that she could not adequately provide for the child. After a full and fair hearing, at which Appellant was represented by counsel, the court decided to end the seven-year attempt to reunify Appellant and G.G., and granted permanent custody of the child to CCDJFS. The judgment of the trial court is fully supported by the record, and the judgment is affirmed.
History of the Case
(¶2} G.G. is the natural child of Appellant. G.G.'s natural father is deceased. Appellant is married to Charles Moore. A juvenile court complaint was filed on March 30, 2004, naming G.G. as a neglected child. The court adjudicated G.G. as a neglected child, and the child was placed in the custody of Appellant under the protective supervision of the CCDJFS. A case plan was established. The goal was for Appellant to maintain custody.
(¶3} On August 13, 2004, a second complaint was filed, alleging that neglect occurred when Appellant overdosed on illegal drugs while the child was present. Appellant was represented by counsel at the adjudicatory hearing, and she stipulated to the finding of neglect. The court placed the child in the temporary custody of the child's maternal grandparents. The child was scheduled for counseling for aggressive, disruptive and violent behavior, and was placed on medication.
(¶4} For the next two years Appellant made some progress with the case plan and with attempted reunification with G.G. On July 20, 2006, a phased-in reunification of G.G. and Appellant was granted, and G.G. was again placed in Appellant's home under the protective supervision of CCDJFS.
(¶5} On August 21, 2008, the state requested that G.G. be removed from Appellant's home because she was allowing Charles Moore into the home despite a court order that Moore have no contact with Appellant and her children. G.G. was observed on numerous occasions with bruises around his face and neck. The state also argued for immediate removal of all of the children living with Appellant due to her arrest on an outstanding warrant and due to the condition of her home. A hearing was held on October 23, 2008. The court granted the emergency order and all of the children were sent to appropriate placement. (10/30/08 J.E.) On October 24, 2008, the court found that two more of Appellant's children, B.M. and J.M., were dependent children, primarily due to Appellant's incarceration. (10/31/08 J.E.) The court also found that Appellant regularly ignored orders from East Liverpool Municipal Court and the juvenile court regarding prohibited contact between Appellant, her husband Charles Moore, and her children. The evidence at the hearing revealed that Moore was often seen at Appellant's home or with G.G. The court also found that Appellant struggled with basic everyday tasks of life such as keeping appointments for G.G., maintaining transportation, and keeping prescriptions filled. The court placed G.G. into the temporary custody of Angela Morris. (11/3/08 J.E.)
(¶6} On September 11, 2008, G.G.'s father died. He had not attended any hearing and had not participated in the case plan prior to his death.
(¶7} Over the next two years it became difficult to place G.G. in a foster home due to the child's aggressive and violent behavior. In November 2008, the child was placed in Belmont Pines Hospital due to a violent outburst while in therapy.
(¶8} On August 23, 2009, criminal complaints were filed against G.G. for violence at school, biting the principal, threatening to kill a teacher, and threatening to put a bomb in the school. G.G. was adjudicated delinquent for assault, vandalism and resisting arrest.
(¶9} Throughout the year 2009, reports were made to local authorities regarding Appellant's harassing behavior, thefts, and substance abuse. During that same year, there were also multiple hearings attempting to reunify Appellant and G.G. After a hearing on October 22, 2009, G.G. was placed for in-patient treatment at New Horizon Youth Center ("New Horizon") in Bethesda, Ohio. Appellant was ordered to cooperate with New Horizon and to take part in any counseling or rehabilitative treatment offered by New Horizon.
(¶10} During G.G.'s treatment at New Horizon, Appellant's participation became less and less frequent until her only contact with G.G. was by telephone.
(¶11} On February 1, 2010, the state filed a motion for permanent custody of G.G. and Appellant's three other children. The motion alleged that Appellant had not followed or completed her case plan and that the father was deceased. At this point, the case plan had been amended 22 times and included requirements that Appellant learn to communicate and interact with others without becoming violent and aggressive, to not use violence against or speak angrily to G.G., provide for all the basic needs of the child, maintain a safe and stable home, attend all of G.G.'s school meetings and doctor appointments, sign any necessary releases, visit G.G. at least once a week, attend counseling with Amy Frampton and Dr. Kaza for stress, take medications to deal with her bipolar disorder and ADHD, learn and be able to articulate appropriate non-violent ways to deal with her stress, submit to random drug tests, use only prescribed medications in the method and dosage prescribed, not allow drug dealers and drug users in her home, and participate in any treatment sought by New Horizon. (11/3/09 Case Plan.)
(¶12} The hearing on the motion for permanent custody was postponed four times before being dismissed for violating the time requirements for resolving a permanent custody motion. A new motion was filed on June 15, 2011. The final hearing on the motion took place on October 4, 2011. Appellant and G.G. were both represented by counsel at the hearing. Testimony was given by Roger Smith (G.G.'s guardian ad litem), Patty Allen (a therapist at New Horizon, and G.G.'s individual therapist from April 2010 until July 2011); Christian Bachochin (a caseworker at CCDJFS), and Don Croskey (a friend of Appellant). Appellant also testified. The record indicates that there were no appropriate relatives that were suitable for permanent placement of G.G. The court granted CCDJFS's motion for permanent custody on January 25, 2012, terminating Appellant's parental rights and granting permanent custody of G.G. to the agency. Appellant's assignments of error are all related to whether the evidence at the final hearing supports the trial court's decision, and thus, they will be treated together.
ASSIGNMENTS OF ERROR 1, 2 AND 3.
The trial court committed reversible error by concluding there was clear and convincing evidence that the agency had provided reasonable efforts to assist Appellant to remedy the conditions that had caused the removal of the child and promote reunification of the family.
The trial court committed reversible error in granting permanent custody against the manifest ...