Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

In re H.D.

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Twelfth District, Warren

April 10, 2017

IN THE MATTER OF: H.D.

         APPEAL FROM WARREN COUNTY COURT OF COMMON PLEAS JUVENILE DIVISION Case No. 14-D000069

          David P. Fornshell, Warren County Prosecuting Attorney, for Warren County Children's Services

          John C. Kaspar, Guardian Ad Litem Kim Schneider, for H.D. Maxwell D. Kinman, for R.G.-M.

          OPINION

          S. POWELL, P.J.

         {¶ 1} Appellant, R.G.-M., the biological mother ("Mother") of H.D., appeals from the decision of the Warren County Court of Common Pleas, Juvenile Division, granting permanent custody of H.D. to appellee, Warren County Children's Services ("WCCS"). For the reasons outlined below, we affirm.

         {¶ 2} The child at issue, H.D., was born on December 25, 2014. At the time of her birth, H.D. tested positive for opiates, hydrocodone, and tramadol. After giving birth, Mother also tested positive for cocaine and admittedly consumed alcohol before going to the hospital to visit H. D. on December 29, 2014. H. D. was subsequently placed in the temporary custody of WCCS on December 31, 2014. Several months later, on March 4, 2015, H.D. was adjudicated an abused and dependent child. Mother did not dispute this finding.

         {¶ 3} Over a year later, on June 29, 2016, WCCS filed for permanent custody of H. D. The juvenile court held a hearing on WCCS' motion on October 5, 2016. At this hearing, Mother admitted that she was a drug addict who suffered from substance abuse and mental health issues. Following this hearing, on October 11, 2016, the juvenile court granted WCCS permanent custody of H.D.

         {¶ 4} Mother now appeals from the juvenile court's decision to grant permanent custody of H.D. to WCCS, raising two assignments of error for review.

         {¶ 5} Assignment of Error No. 1:

         {¶ 6} THE TRIAL COURT ERRED BY ALLOWING THE STATE OF OHIO TO PRESENT HEARSAY EVIDENCE OVER THE APPELLANT'S OBJECTION.

         {¶ 7} In her first assignment of error, Mother argues the trial court erred by admitting alleged hearsay statements regarding the events leading up to H.D.'s placement in foster care and the results of Mother's drug screens. Mother also argues the trial court erred by allowing the WCCS supervisor overseeing her case to testify instead of requiring testimony from the actual caseworker assigned to her case. According to Mother, this constitutes blatant hearsay that prejudiced her and prohibited her from receiving a fair hearing. We disagree.

         {¶ 8} Hearsay is inadmissible in hearings on motions for permanent custody. In re W.R., 12th Dist. Fayette No. CA2011-08-016, 2012-Ohio-382, ¶ 22. However, it is well-established that as the fact-finder, a juvenile court is presumed to have considered only properly admissible evidence unless the record affirmatively demonstrates otherwise. In re A.F., 12th Dist. Butler No. CA2011-12-233, 2012-Ohio-2958, ¶ 33. Therefore, the admission of hearsay evidence in permanent custody cases, even if error, is not considered prejudicial unless it is shown that the juvenile court relied on this improper evidence in making its decision. In re KB., 12th Dist. Butler Nos. CA2014-02-042 thru CA2014-02-044, 2014-Ohio-3654, ¶ 83.

         {¶ 9} After a thorough review of the record, we find many of the alleged hearsay statements Mother complains of do not fall within the rule against hearsay as provided by Evid.R. 802, but instead constitute either nonhearsay statements as defined by Evid.R. 801 or constitute one of the many exceptions to the rule against hearsay as provided by Evid.R. 803. Again, as the trier of fact, the juvenile court is presumed to be able to disregard improper testimony. Regardless, even if the challenged testimony could be considered inadmissible hearsay, Mother cannot show that she suffered any resulting prejudice resulting from its admission. This is particularly true here considering Mother herself testified regarding most, if not all, of the alleged improper statements when called to testify before the juvenile court.

         {¶ 10} For instance, although there was testimony that Mother submitted several positive drug screens, Mother herself testified that she tested positive for cocaine, nevertheless maintaining that the result was a false positive, and that she continues to struggle with substance abuse and mental health issues. Mother, a self-proclaimed drug addict, also acknowledged that she had consumed alcohol prior to visiting H.D. in the hospital shortly after the child's birth. Mother further admitted to abusing her prescribed Ritalin and Fen-Phen. In addition, Mother acknowledged that she had been charged with several offenses since H.D. was removed from her care, as well as an incident where the SWAT team was called to her house after she barricaded herself inside, actions that resulted in Mother being placed on a 72-hour hold in a mental health facility. Therefore, even assuming the complained of testimony was inadmissible hearsay improperly ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.