Court of Appeals of Ohio, Twelfth District, Butler
FROM BUTLER COUNTY COURT OF COMMON PLEAS JUVENILE DIVISION
Case No. JN2017-0149
Michael T. Gmoser, Butler County Prosecuting Attorney, Lina
N. Alkamhawi, for appellee, Butler County Children Services
Jonathan W. Ford, Legal Aid Society of Southwest Ohio,
guardian ad litem.
appellant, pro se.
1} Appellant, D.M. ("Father"), appeals a
decision of the Butler County Court of Common Pleas, Juvenile
Division, in which it took judicial notice of a prior
adjudication decision in order to adjudicate M.M.-P. a
2} A children's services agency filed a
complaint alleging that M.M.-P. was dependent. The juvenile
court held a shelter care hearing, during which the agency
informed the court that the child had previously been
adjudicated dependent based on the same allegations contained
in its current complaint. The agency explained to the court
that it had filed a complaint in the past alleging that the
child was dependent. A hearing was held on the prior
complaint, and the juvenile court adjudicated the child
dependent. However, that adjudication order was dismissed
without prejudice because of a procedural issue.
3} The agency moved the juvenile court to take
judicial notice of the previous adjudication result, and
argued that the dependency issue had already been litigated.
Father objected to the juvenile court taking judicial notice,
and asked the court to provide an opportunity to litigate the
agency's current complaint.
4} The juvenile court decided to take judicial
notice of the previous dependency adjudication, finding it
unnecessary to re-litigate the same issues that had already
been raised in the agency's first complaint. The matter
then proceeded to disposition, and the court ordered
supervised visitation and adoption of case plan services.
5} Father now appeals, pro se, the juvenile
court's decision, raising the following assignments of
error. As the assignments of error are interrelated, we will
address them together. Within the two assignments of error,
Father alleges that the juvenile court erred by taking
judicial notice of the prior dependency
6} Pursuant to R.C. 2151.35(A)(1), a juvenile
court's adjudication of a child as abused, neglected, or
dependent must be supported by clear and convincing evidence.
See also Juv.R. 29(E)(4). An appellate court's
review of a juvenile court's decision finding clear and
convincing evidence is limited to whether there is
sufficient, credible evidence in the record supporting the
juvenile court's decision. In re L.J., 12th
Dist. Clermont No. CA2007-07-080, 2007-Ohio-5498, ¶ 12.
7} While evidence may have existed to support the
previous adjudication decision, "once a juvenile court
dismisses a complaint without prejudice, it is as though the
action had never been filed." In re K.H., 8th
Dist. Cuyahoga No. 92618, 2009-Ohio-5237, ¶ 13.
8} The juvenile court's dismissal of the first
adjudication finding without prejudice had the effect of
placing the parties in the same position as if the first
adjudication hearing never occurred. As such, there was no
evidence, clear and convincing or otherwise, to support the
juvenile court's current adjudication. The juvenile court
accepted no evidence before taking judicial notice of the
prior adjudication, and there is no supporting evidence for
adjudication absent a hearing to permit the parties to submit
9} Father's two assignments of error are
sustained, and the matter is reversed and ...