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 C.S.

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Ninth District, Lorain

June 19, 2017

IN RE: C.S. N.S.

         APPEAL FROM JUDGMENT ENTERED IN THE COURT OF COMMON PLEAS COUNTY OF LORAIN, OHIO CASE Nos. 15JC4722115JC47222

          JAMES V. BARILLA, Attorney at Law, for Appellant.

          DENNIS P. WILL, Prosecuting Attorney, and EMILY W. KIRSCH, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney, for Appellee.

          DECISION AND JOURNAL ENTRY

          JULIE A. SCHAFER, Presiding Judge.

         {¶1} Appellant M.S. ("Mother") appeals the judgment of the Lorain County Court of Common Pleas, Juvenile Division, that adjudicated her children neglected and dependent and placed them in the legal custody of G.B. and A.B. ("Paternal Cousins"). This Court reverses and remands.

         I.

         {¶2} Mother is the mother of C.S. (d.o.b 6/5/12) and N.S. (d.o.b 12/14/14). D.C. ("Father") was considered to be the biological father of the children for purposes of this case, although it is unclear from the record whether he ever established paternity as to all the children. For ease, this Court will accord him the status of father. In any event, he is not a party to this appeal.

          {¶3} On December 1, 2015, Lorain County Children Services ("LCCS") filed a complaint alleging C.S., N.S., and two older siblings[1] to be dependent and neglected children based on allegations that near the end of September 2015, Mother dropped them off at a relative's home without adequate supplies and did not return to retrieve them. The complaint further alleged that Mother, who had 12 children and was pregnant with her 13th, has a history of depending on others to care for her children. Also allegedly, Mother has significant mental health issues, is unemployed, and although she has independent housing, her apartment is reportedly cluttered, infested with bed bugs, and contains no food. The children allegedly found their way into Father's physical custody and care. Because the caseworker was unable to meet with Mother to try to formulate a plan for the children, the agency filed its complaint. The juvenile court issued predispositional interim orders, placing A.C. and Na.S. in the physical custody of Father, and C.S. and N.S. in the physical custody of Paternal Cousins.

         {¶4} The juvenile court originally scheduled the cases for adjudication and disposition on January 7, 2016. Those hearings were continued until January 29, again until February 16, and finally until April 13, 2016. None of the scheduling entries indicated the reasons for the continuances.

         {¶5} On April 13, 2016, the magistrate purported to hold the adjudicatory and dispositional hearings regarding the four children. All attorneys and parties were present except for Mother. Mother had shown up at the Justice Center, but instead of going to the floor on which the juvenile court was located and reporting to the magistrate's courtroom, she went to the Prosecutor's office on another floor with the intent to resolve her multiple outstanding warrants for failure to pay child support. She was immediately arrested on the warrants and placed in a holding cell in the basement of the Justice Center. When Mother's attorney learned of Mother's whereabouts approximately 30 minutes later and informed the magistrate, the magistrate presumed that Mother would request a continuance of the adjudication and disposition and sua sponte denied any presumptive request. Mother's attorney was able to consult with Mother in the holding cell prior to the hearing.

         {¶6} The parties present at the hearing had apparently entered into an agreement, whereby A.C. and Na.S. would remain with Father, while C.S. and N.S. would be placed in the legal custody of Paternal Cousins. Mother did not sign the agreement, and her attorney asserted that she would only agree to protective supervision to the agency regarding one of the children who is not a subject of this appeal. There is nothing in the record to indicate that Mother stipulated to a finding that the children were dependent and/or neglected.

         {¶7} Only the agency caseworker testified at the hearing. When LCCS presented its very brief case-in-chief, it immediately elicited evidence in support of its assertion that the various dispositions to which all parties except Mother had agreed were in the best interest of the children. The guardian ad litem for the children briefly summarized her report, speaking only as to disposition, and agreeing that the dispositions to which all parties except Mother had agreed were in the best interest of the children.

         {¶8} After the statement by the guardian, the magistrate "adopt[ed] the entries as agreed to by the parties present and testified to as the parties absent." It is unclear what these entries are, as the only documents in the record signed by any parties are (1) a signature page appended to the Magistrate's Decision and containing the heading "Approved and a Copy Received By:", signed by the guardian ad litem, counsel for LCCS, Father, Father's attorney, and Paternal Cousins, and (2) a statement of understanding regarding legal custody, signed by Paternal Cousins. Continuing on the record at the hearing, the magistrate addressed each older child separately, first adjudicating the child dependent and neglected, and then concluding that the disposition to which most parties had agreed was in the best interest of the child. The magistrate addressed C.S. and N.S. together, first adjudicating them dependent and neglected, and then finding that placing them in the legal custody of Paternal Cousins was in their best interests.

         {¶9} The magistrate issued a decision reiterating these findings and orders. Although the decision states that the magistrate expressly adjudicated the children neglected and dependent, and then proceeded to dispositional hearing, it is apparent that the magistrate and parties present believed that ...


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.