from Marion County Common Pleas Court Family Division Trial
Court No. 15 AB 0016
C. Nemo for Appellant.
J. Kahle for Appellee.
Appellant, Sasha Steele ("Steele"), appeals the
March 8, 2017 judgment entry of the Marion County Court of
Common Pleas, Family Division, granting permanent custody of
her minor child, J.E., to appellee, the Marion County
Children's Services Board ("the Agency"). For
the reasons that follow, we affirm.
J.E. is the minor child of Steele and Jordan Emmons
("Emmons") born in December of 2014. (Doc. No.
On January 6, 2015, the Agency filed a complaint alleging
that J.E. was an abused and dependent child under R.C.
2151.031 and R.C. 2151.04, respectively. (Id.). That
same day, the Agency filed a "motion for ex
parte/emergency orders with notice of hearing." (Doc.
No. 3). Also on January 6, 2015, the trial court granted the
Agency pre-dispositional interim custody of J.E. and also
granted the Agency's "motion for ex parte/emergency
orders with notice of hearing." (Doc. Nos. 4, 5).
At multiple points in the case, the Agency submitted case
plans to the trial court, which the trial court approved and
incorporated into disposition entries. (Doc. Nos. 36, 63,
99). The Agency also filed semiannual administrative reviews.
(Doc. Nos. 31, 38, 61, 83).
On January 13, 2015, the trial court appointed a guardian ad
litem ("GAL") for J.E. (Doc. No. 9). On January 23,
2015, the trial court appointed counsel for Steele. (Doc. No.
13). On March 30, 2016, the trial court appointed counsel for
Emmons. (Doc. No. 45).
After a shelter-care and pre-trial hearing on January 28,
2015, the trial court on February 11, 2015 issued an order
that temporary custody of J.E. remain with the Agency and
scheduled the matter for adjudication on March 13, 2015.
(Doc. No. 17). That adjudication was continued on the trial
court's motion because Steel was not transported to the
hearing. (Doc. No. 21).
On March 27, 2015, Steele stipulated that J.E. was a
dependent child under R.C. 2151.04. (Doc. No. 27). The trial
court found J.E. dependent and dismissed the abuse complaint.
(Id.). On April 15, 2015, the trial court ordered
that temporary custody of J.E. remain with the Agency. (Doc.
No. 28). At multiple points after adjudicating J.E. a
dependent child and awarding temporary custody to the Agency,
the trial court reviewed that disposition but did not alter
it. (See Doc. Nos. 33, 35, 37, 47, 70, 72. 75).
On April 26, 2016, the Agency filed a motion for permanent
custody of J.E. (Doc. No. 48). The trial court scheduled the
permanent custody hearing for July 18, 2016. (Doc. No. 49).
On July 7, 2016, Steele filed a motion to continue that
hearing. (Doc. No. 65). On July 12, 2016, the Agency filed a
memorandum in opposition to the motion to continue. (Doc. No.
66). The trial court granted the motion to continue on August
8, 2016 and rescheduled the permanent custody hearing for
November 7, 2016. (Doc. No. 67). The permanent custody
hearing set for November 7, 2016 was continued by agreement
of the parties. (Doc. No. 97 at 4).
On January 6, 2017, Steele filed a motion to continue the
permanent custody hearing set for January 12, 2017. (Doc. No.
86). On January 10, 2017, the Agency filed a memorandum in
opposition to the motion to continue. (Doc. No. 87). The
trial court denied the motion to continue on January 11,
2017. (Doc. No. 88).
The trial court held a permanent custody hearing on January
12, 2017. (Doc. No. 97). The guardian ad litem submitted his
report and recommendation on January 30, 2017 and recommended
that the trial court grant the Agency's motion for
permanent custody. (Doc. No. 92). On March 8, 2017, the trial
court filed its judgment entry granting the Agency permanent
custody of J.E. (Doc. No. 97).
On March 30, 2017, Steele filed her notice of appeal. (Doc.
No. 101). She brings three assignments of error for our
of Error No. I
Trial Court Abused Its Discretion When It Denied
Appellant's Motion For [A] Continuance.
In her first assignment of error, Steele argues that the
trial court abused its discretion in denying her motion to
continue the January 12, 2017 permanent custody hearing.
Specifically, Steele argues that the trial court abused its
discretion in denying her motion for a continuance because
she planned to move into a sober living house, had a
probation violation hearing scheduled for January 18, 2017,
in Delaware County, and needed more time to complete
programming and make herself better able to care for her
daughter. Steele also argues that the trial court's
one-sentence entry denying her motion to continue did not
consider the factors that a court must consider in
determining whether to grant a continuance. Steele further
argues that the trial court abused its discretion in denying
her motion to continue because there was "some
haste" on the Agency's part when it filed its motion
for permanent custody of J.E. (Appellant's Brief at 10).
"Continuances shall be granted only when imperative to
secure fair treatment for the parties." In re
Distafano, 3d Dist. Seneca No. 13-06-14, 2006-Ohio-4430,
¶ 11, quoting Juv.R. 23. "A decision by the trial
court to deny a motion for continuance is within the sound
discretion of the trial court and should not be reversed
absent a showing of abuse of that discretion."
Id., quoting In re Miller, 3d Dist.
Auglaize No. 2-04-02, 2004-Ohio-3023, ¶ 7. The term
"abuse of discretion" refers to a decision that is
"arbitrary, unreasonable, or unconscionable."
Sandusky Properties v. Aveni, 15 Ohio St.3d 273, 275
(1984), citing Dayton ex rel. Scandrick v. McGee, 67
Ohio St.2d 356, 359 (1981) and State v. Adams, 62
Ohio St.2d 151, 157 (1980).
In considering a motion for a continuance, a court should
consider (1) the length of the delay requested; (2) whether
other continuances have been requested and granted; (3) any
inconvenience to parties, witnesses, opposing counsel, and
the court; (4) whether the requested delay is for a
legitimate purpose or is instead dilatory, purposeful, or
contrived; (5) whether the defendant contributed to the
situation that gives rise to the motion for a continuance;
and (6) other relevant factors, depending on the unique facts
of a case. In re J.D., 3d Dist. Hancock ...