Court of Appeals of Ohio, Third District, Crawford
IN RE: N.R.S., ADJUDGED ABUSED CHILD. [JAMES STEVEY - APPELLANT] IN RE: J.N.S., ADJUDGED DEPENDENT CHILD. [JAMES STEVEY - APPELLANT] IN RE: K.H.S., ADJUDGED DEPENDENT CHILD. [JAMES STEVEY - APPELLANT]
from Crawford County Common Pleas Court Juvenile Division
Trial Court Nos. 2175051, 2175049 and 2155125
N. Gernert for Appellant, James Stevey
Michael J. Wiener for Appellee
This is an appeal from the August 11, 2017 judgment entry of
the Crawford County Court of Common Pleas, Juvenile Division,
awarding permanent custody of N.R.S., J.N.S. and K.H.S., all
minor children, to Crawford County Children Services
("CCCS"). Appellant, James Stevey
("James"), natural father of all three children,
and Procedural History
On September 8, 2015, CCCS filed three (3) separate
complaints for abuse and/or dependency in the trial court,
requesting the temporary custody of N.R.S., J.N.S. and K.H.S.
The complaint alleged abuse in N.R.S.'s case, alleging
her to be the victim of sexual abuse. The complaints
regarding J.N.S. and K.H.S. alleged them to be dependent
children. (Doc. 1). Upon the filing of the complaints, the
trial court conducted a shelter care hearing and placed all
three children into the temporary custody of CCCS. At the
time of the hearing, the children had been in the legal
custody of their paternal grandparents.
On October 1, 2015, an adjudicatory hearing was conducted in
the trial court. At the hearing, James stipulated that N.R.S.
was an abused child and that J.N.S. and K.H.S. were dependent
children. Thus, the trial court adjudicated the children as
such. The parties agreed to proceed to
disposition immediately following the adjudicatory
hearing. At the dispositional hearing, the trial
court awarded temporary custody of N.R.S., J.N.S. and K.H.S.
to CCCS, terminated the paternal grandparents grant of legal
custody and dismissed them as parties. (Docs. 26, 27). The
children were then placed into a foster home by CCCS.
On September 2, 2016, CCCS filed a motion to modify the
dispositional orders by requesting that temporary custody of
N.R.S., J.N.S. and K.H.S.be placed with their paternal aunt.
(Doc. 43). All parties agreed to the placement and, in its
September 6, 2016 judgment entry, the trial court terminated
its temporary custody to CCCS and awarded temporary custody
of the children to their paternal aunt with protective
supervision to CCCS. (Doc. 44).
Thereafter, on November 14, 2016, CCCS filed a motion in the
trial court to place N.R.S., J.N.S. and K.H.S. into the legal
custody of their paternal aunt and to close its case.
CCCS's motion was set for hearing on December 14, 2016.
However, at the hearing CCCS withdrew the motion and
requested that the temporary custody order (to the paternal
aunt with protective supervision to CCCS) continue. In its
judgment entry of January 11, 2017, the trial court extended
the temporary custody order until April 1, 2017. (Doc. 51).
Thereafter, on January 26, 2017, CCCS filed another motion
for modification, this time requesting the trial court to
terminate the paternal aunt as the temporary custodian of
N.R.S., J.N.S. and K.H.S. In its motion, CCCS requested that
temporary custody of N.R.S., J.N.S. and K.H.S. be returned to
the agency due to the inability of the paternal aunt to
provide adequate care for the children. (Doc. 52). The trial
court granted CCCS's request on March 6, 2017. (Doc. 54).
On March 28, 2017, CCCS filed its motion for the permanent
custody of N.R.S., J.N.S. and K.H.S. pursuant to R.C.
2151.414 and the case was set for a permanent custody hearing
to commence May 18, 2017. However, due to the failure of
service upon James, the hearing was rescheduled by the trial
court. Ultimately, service upon James was perfected on May
On August 10, 2017, a permanent custody hearing occurred in
the trial court and on August 11, 2017, the trial court
issued its judgment entry granting the permanent custody of
N.R.S., J.N.S. and K.H.S. to CCCS. Although she was served
with notice of the permanent custody hearing, Rhonda Stevey,
the mother of the children, did not attend. Furthermore, due
to his incarceration, James did not attend the hearing.
However, his attorney was present on his behalf.
James appeals the entry of permanent custody, raising the
following assignments of error for our review.
OF ERROR NO. I
COUNTY DEPARMTNET (sic) OF JOB AND FAMILY SERVICES DID NOT
ACT IN GOOD FAITH/MAKE A GOOD FAITH EFFORT TO REUNIFY PARENT
AND CHILD/PREVENT THE TERMINATION OF THE PARENT CHILD
OF ERROR NO. II
AND CONVINCING EVIDENCE DID NOT EXIST TO JUSTIFY A FINDING
THAT IT WAS IN THE BEST INTERESTS OF THE MINOR CHILDREN TO
TERMINATE PARENTAL RIGHTS AND AWARD PERMANENT CUSTODY OF THE
MINOR CHILDREN TO CRAWFORD COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF JOB AND
For ease of discussion, we elect to address the assignments
of error out of the order in which they appear, ...