Court of Appeals of Ohio, Fifth District, Fairfield
IN THE MATTER OF: K.P. IN THE MATTER OF: M.P.
from the Court of Common Pleas, Juvenile Division, Case Nos.
2014-AB-162 and 2014-AB-163.
Appellant WILLIAM J. HOLT
Father DARREN L. MEADE
K.P. and M.P. DAVID TAWNEY
Appellee DAVID K. H. SILWANI
Guardian ad Litem SARAH RAHTER
JUDGES: Hon. Patricia A. Delaney, P.J. Hon. Craig R. Baldwin,
J. Hon. Earle E. Wise, Jr., J.
1} Appellant-Mother, C.L., appeals the January 5, 2017
judgment entries/orders of the Court of Common Pleas of
Fairfield County, Ohio, Juvenile Division, denying her
objections and upholding the magistrate's decision
granting appellee, Fairfield County Child Protective
Services, permanent custody of her children.
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
2} On October 8, 2014, appellee filed two separate
complaints, one alleging K.P., born February 10, 2012, and
one alleging M.P., born November 13, 2013, to be abused,
neglected, and/or dependent children. Mother of the children
is appellant herein; father is K.P. The children were placed
in appellee's temporary custody and case plans were
filed. By agreed judgment entries filed December 22, 2014,
the children were found to be dependent and appellee's
temporary custody was continued.
3} On September 14, 2015, appellee filed motions for
permanent custody of the children because neither parent had
complied with the case plans. Hearings before a magistrate
were held on April 12 and 13, 2016. By decisions filed May
10, 2016, the magistrate terminated appellant's parental
rights and granted permanent custody of the children to
appellee. Appellant filed objections, arguing the
magistrate's decisions were against the manifest weight
and sufficiency of the evidence, were an abuse of discretion,
and appellee failed to comply with the federal Indian Child
Welfare Act. Appellant indicated a memorandum in support
would be submitted after completion of the trial transcript.
Appellant also requested an oral hearing on the objections
and that the trial court take additional testimony on matters
that occurred before trial but were not discovered until
after the trial. Appellant's requests were denied by
orders filed May 24, 2016.
4} Transcripts of the magistrate's hearings were filed on
June 30, 2016. By judgment entries/orders filed July 5, 2016,
the trial court overruled the objections, finding the
objections were broad and failed to state an objection with
specificity. The trial court upheld the magistrate's
decisions without considering the merits of the objections.
5} Appellant filed an appeal in each case. This court
reversed the trial court's decisions, finding the trial
court erred in finding the objections were not stated with
particularity and in not conducting an independent review of
the magistrate's decisions pursuant to Juv.R.
40(D)(4)(d). In the Matter of K.P., 5th Dist.
Fairfield No. 16-CA-25, 2016-Ohio-8242; In the Matter of
M.P., 5th Dist. Fairfield No. 16-CA-26, 2016-Ohio-8243.
This court remanded the matter to the trial court for further
6} By judgment entries/orders filed January 5, 2017, the
trial court determined it would not hear additional evidence,
conducted an independent review, overruled the objections,
and upheld the magistrate's decisions.
7} Appellant filed two appeals, one for each child, and this
matter is now before this court for consideration.
Assignments of error are identical in each case and are as
8} "THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN FAILING TO PROVIDE THE
APPELLANT WITH AN INDEPENDENT REVIEW OF THE MAGISTRATE'S
DECISION IN VIOLATION OF JUVENILE RULE 40(D)(4)(d)."
9} "THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN THE APPLICATION OF JUVENILE
RULE 40(D)(4) IN VIOLATION OF THE DUE PROCESS CLAUSE OF THE
CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES, AND THE DUE PROCESS CLAUSE
OF THE OHIO CONSTITUTION."
10} "THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN FAILING TO HEAR ADDITIONAL
EVIDENCE FROM THE APPELLANT IN VIOLATION OF JUVENILE RULE
11} "THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN NOT FINDING THAT THE (SIC)
THERE WAS INSUFFICIENT EVIDENCE TO AWARD TO FAIRFIELD COUNTY
CHILD PROTECTIVE SERVICES THE PERMANENT CUSTODY OF THE
CHILDREN OF THE APPELLANT MOTHER."
12} In assignments of error one and two, appellant claims the
trial court failed to conduct an independent review of the
magistrate's decisions in violation of Juv.R. 40(D)(4)(d)
and failed to properly apply the rule, thereby violating her
due process rights. We disagree.
13} Juv.R. 40(D)(4)(d) states the following:
If one or more objections to a magistrate's decision are
timely filed, the court shall rule on those objections. In
ruling on objections, the court shall undertake an
independent review as to the objected matters to ascertain
that the magistrate has properly determined the factual
issues and appropriately applied the law. Before so ruling,
the court may hear additional evidence but may refuse to do
so unless the objecting party demonstrates that the party
could not, with reasonable diligence, have produced that
evidence for consideration by the magistrate.
14} Appellant argues the trial court failed to make an
independent review. In its judgment entries filed January 5,
2017, the trial court acknowledged this court's
"directive was for the Court to conduct an independent
review of the magistrate's factual findings and
application of the law in this matter. Therefore, the court
has conducted said independent review and issues this
decision as a result of said review." The trial court
indicated it conducted an independent review of the
transcript of the magistrate's hearings and the facts
presented, and "will consider manifest weight and
insufficient evidence in one analysis of insufficient
evidence." The trial court set forth the burden of proof
as "clear and convincing evidence, " reviewed the
application of the law, and entered findings. The trial court
concluded at 2, "the State presented sufficient evidence
to support the granting of its motion for permanent custody
by clear and convincing evidence."
15} Appellant takes issue with this statement, arguing the
trial court applied "an appellate standard rather than
an independent review." Appellant's Briefs at 4.
Appellant argues the trial court's "function when
making an independent review is anything but determining
whether there is sufficient evidence which can be discerned