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State ex rel. Richland County Children Services v. Richland County Court of Common Pleas

Supreme Court of Ohio

December 22, 2017

The State ex rel. Richland County Children Services et al.
v.
Richland County Court of Common Pleas et al.

          Submitted June 6, 2017

         In Prohibition And Mandamus.

          Edith A. Gilliland, for relators.

          Montgomery, Rennie & Jonson, Linda L. Woeber, and Lisa M. Zaring, for respondents.

          PER CURIAM.

         {¶ 1} In the midst of a parentage action, respondent Richland County Court of Common Pleas, Domestic Relations Division, ordered relator Richland County Children Services to take immediate custody of the minor child at the center of the action. Richland County Children Services and its executive director, relator Patricia A. Harrelson (collectively, "RCCS"), filed this original action for writs of prohibition and mandamus, asserting that the domestic-relations court lacked jurisdiction to issue the order. Respondents Judge Heather Cockley and Magistrate Steve McKinley have filed a motion to dismiss.

         {¶ 2} For the reasons discussed below, we deny the motion to dismiss, grant a peremptory writ of prohibition, and deny the requested writ of mandamus as moot.

         Background

         {¶ 3} The relevant facts, as alleged in the complaint, are not in dispute.

         {¶ 4} K.R. filed an action in the Richland County domestic-relations court against M.W. to establish paternity and to allocate parental rights and responsibilities for M.W.'s minor child. On Friday, April 14, 2017, the court held a hearing in the case on its own motion.

         {¶ 5} Later that day, Magistrate McKinley issued a decision in which he found probable cause to believe that the child was a neglected, abused, and/or dependent child, that she was in immediate danger, and that removal was necessary to prevent immediate or threatened physical or emotional harm. He ordered the child placed in the immediate custody of RCCS and ordered RCCS joined as a third-party defendant. Finally, the magistrate ordered the case transferred to the Richland County juvenile court for further proceedings.

         {¶ 6} On April 17, 2017, the following Monday, RCCS filed a motion to set aside the magistrate's decision and a motion for a stay. Two days later, on April 19, Judge Cockley signed a judgment entry adopting the magistrate's decision. Later that day, the court issued an order denying RCCS's motions as moot.

         Procedural History

         {¶ 7} RCCS filed this action in this court on May 5, 2017. The complaint seeks (1) a writ of mandamus to compel a ruling on RCCS's motion to set aside Magistrate McKinley's decision and (2) a writ of prohibition vacating the decision and barring the domestic-relations court from issuing future custody orders "that are squarely within the exclusive, original ...


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