The State ex rel. Richland County Children Services et al.
Richland County Court of Common Pleas et al.
Submitted June 6, 2017
Prohibition And Mandamus.
A. Gilliland, for relators.
Montgomery, Rennie & Jonson, Linda L. Woeber, and Lisa M.
Zaring, for respondents.
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.
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.
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 ...