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In re V.S.

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Ninth District, Summit

December 20, 2017



          SHUBHRA N. AGARWAL, Attorney at Law, for Appellant. DANIEL R. BACHE, Attorney at Law, for Appellant.

          SHERRI BEVAN WALSH, Prosecuting Attorney, and HEAVEN DIMARTINO, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney, for Appellee.

          SARAH HULBURT, Guardian ad Litem.


          LYNNE S. CALLAHAN, Judge.

         {¶1} Appellants Mother and Father appeal the judgment of the Summit County Court of Common Pleas, Juvenile Division, that adjudicated their child V.S. a dependent child. This Court affirms.


         {¶2} Mother and Father are the biological parents of V.S. (d.o.b. 6/16/16). Mother is also the biological mother of A.P. and C.S. Father is the biological father of C.S. After being adjudicated neglected and abused, A.P. and C.S. were ultimately placed in the permanent custody of Cuyahoga County Department of Children and Family Services ("CCDCFS"). On September 15, 2016, the Eighth District Court of Appeals affirmed the termination of Mother's and Father's parental rights and the award of permanent custody of A.P. and C.S. to CCDCFS.

         {¶3} On September 23, 2016, Summit County Children Services Board ("CSB") filed a complaint alleging that V.S. was a dependent child. The agency alleged three bases for dependency: (1) that the child was homeless, destitute, or without adequate parental care, through no fault of the child's parents; (2) that the child's condition or environment warranted the state's assumption of the child's guardianship in the interest of the child; and (3) that (a) the child was residing in a household where a parent committed an act resulting in the adjudication of another child in the household as an abused, neglected, or dependent child; and (b) because of the circumstances surrounding the abuse, neglect, or dependency of the other child, as well as other conditions in the child's household, the child was in danger of being abused or neglected by the parent. R.C. 2151.04(A), (C), and (D)(1) and (2). V.S. was ordered into the emergency temporary custody of CSB the same day.

         {¶4} On the first date scheduled for adjudication, Mother requested a continuance. Father did not oppose Mother's request, and the magistrate rescheduled the hearing to occur approximately five weeks later. Despite having been properly served, both Mother and Father failed to appear for adjudication, allegedly based on a medical emergency. The magistrate refused to further continue the matter based on statutory time constraints. She agreed to schedule a second date for the adjudication, however, to allow Mother and Father to be present for the caseworker's testimony and to present their own cases in chief. Both parents appeared for the second day of hearing. Neither testified or presented any evidence.

         {¶5} At the conclusion of the adjudicatory hearing, the magistrate found V.S. dependent pursuant to R.C. 2151.04(D)(1) and (2), based on the prior abuse and neglect adjudications of the child's siblings and the danger that V.S. might thereby be abused or neglected in the household. The magistrate found that CSB did not prove by clear and convincing evidence that V.S. was a dependent child pursuant to R.C. 2151.04(A) or (C). She, therefore, dismissed those allegations in the complaint. The matter proceeded to disposition, and the magistrate placed the child in the temporary custody of CSB. The juvenile court adopted both of the magistrate's decisions the same days they were issued.

         {¶6} Mother and Father each filed objections to the magistrate's decision, alleging that the dependency adjudication was not supported by the evidence. Father requested leave to supplement his objections. After the transcript was filed, Father supplemented his objections, and CSB filed a brief in opposition. According to the juvenile court's judgment entry, the parties all appeared for oral argument on the objections, and the court granted leave to Mother and Father to further supplement their objections. There is no transcript of the objections hearing in the record. Although Father had earlier supplemented his objections, Mother failed to do so. The juvenile court thereafter issued its judgment in which it overruled Mother's and Father's objections and adjudicated V.S. a dependent child pursuant to R.C. 2151.04(D), and adhered to its prior order placing the child in the temporary custody of CSB. Five days later, Mother filed a motion to respond to CSB's brief in opposition. The juvenile court properly did not rule on Mother's motion, as it was a nullity, akin to a motion for reconsideration after the juvenile court issued its final judgment. See In re J.P., 9th Dist. Summit No. 24538, 2009-Ohio-3974, ¶ 7 (recognizing no authority for a motion for reconsideration of a final judgment pursuant to the Ohio Rules of Juvenile Procedure).

         {¶7} After the juvenile court ruled on the parents' objections, Mother and Father both filed timely notices of appeal. Each raises one assignment of error for consideration. Although Mother and Father have filed separate briefs, their assignments of error are ...

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