Court of Appeals of Ohio, Seventh District, Monroe
Appeal from the Court of Common Pleas, Juvenile Division, of
Monroe County, Ohio Case No. 5218.
Mother-Appellant Attorney Brent Clyburn.
Grandmother-Appellant Attorney Margaret Boyd LaPlante.
MCDJFS-Appellee Attorney James Peters County Prosecutor
Attorney Jamie Riley Assistant Prosecutor.
JUDGES: Hon. Mary DeGenaro Hon. Cheryl L. Waite Hon. Carol
In separate cases, mother and maternal grandmother appeal the
juvenile court judgment which granted permanent custody of
the children to the Monroe County Department of Job and
Family Services. Because the children have been in the
custody of the Agency for more than 12 consecutive months and
the grant of custody is in their best interests, the judgment
and Procedural History
M.A., C.A., and S.A., ages 6, 8, and 5 respectively, were
taken into emergency custody by MCDJFS on May 12, 2015. The
Agency filed a complaint with the juvenile court alleging
that all three children were abused and neglected. An
adjudicatory hearing was held on July 16, 2015, and the
children were found to be abused and neglected. They remained
in the temporary custody of the Agency. Immediately following
the adjudicatory hearing Mother was arrested on a warrant.
A case plan was filed that included Mother. Grandmother
requested to be included but the juvenile court denied this
at disposition noting she had no legally recognized right to
be included or to visitation. On November 12, 2015,
Grandmother filed an objection contending that since the
children had lived with her for about a year and a half
before being removed, she needed to be included on the case
plan. The juvenile court later reconsidered, ordered that she
remain a party, and directed the Agency to include her on the
On May 11, 2016, a dispositional review was held. The
juvenile court noted that Mother was incarcerated, charged as
a persistent felony offender, and would not be released from
jail in the near future. Grandmother expressed her desire to
have the minor children returned to her care; however, her
son (Uncle), a diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic who refuses
to take his medication, remained living at her residence.
Uncle was usually armed with a firearm or sword, and the
children feared him. The court continued the children in care
of their foster family.
On August 9, 2016, a letter to the judge was filed with the
juvenile court from Mother. She informed the court that she
"signed on 5 years" and that she had an additional
hearing on September 6, 2016, where she would find out if she
could get probation. She requested additional time for her
On August 22, 2016, the Agency filed a motion for permanent
custody asserting that the children could not be placed with
the Mother or Grandmother within a reasonable time, that the
children had been in the Agency's custody for more than
12 of 22 months, and that permanent custody was in the best
interests of the children.
On September 21, 2016, the juvenile court conducted in camera
interviews of the minor children at the request of the
guardian ad litem. Days later Mother filed a motion for
continuance as she was released from prison and attempting to
secure housing, find a job, and start counseling. The court
granted this motion and continued the permanent custody
hearing from September 29, 2016 to November 4, 2016. At the
permanent custody hearing on November 4, 2016, Mother made a
motion to continue the matter yet again to give her
additional time, and the court continued the matter to
On December 7, 2016, a deputy from the county sheriffs office
accompanied the caseworker to Grandmother's house.
Grandmother exited her home to speak with the caseworker and
a male (later identified as Uncle J.A.) began shouting
obscenities from inside of the house. Fearing for their
safety, the deputy and caseworker left the property without
securing a urine sample from Mother to conduct a drug test.
On February 3, 2017, a hearing was held on the permanent
custody motion. Ten witnesses testified including the
guardian ad litem, Mother, Father, and the Agency caseworker.
Grandmother did not testify but was represented by counsel.
On February 27, 2017, the juvenile court terminated Mother
and Father's parental rights and awarded permanent
custody to the Agency. From this decision, Mother and
Grandmother preserved timely appeals that will be discussed