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In re S.S.

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Tenth District

March 30, 2018

In the Matter of: S.S., S.G. Appellant In the Matter of: K.N. et al., S.G. Appellant.

          APPEALS from the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas, Division of Domestic Relations, Juvenile Branch C.P.C. Nos. 15JU-13229, 15JU-13227

         On brief:

          John T. Ryerson, for appellant.

          Robert J. McClaren, for appellee Franklin County Children Services.

          DECISION

          BROWN, P.J.

         {¶ 1} S.G. ("mother"), appellant, appeals the judgment of the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas, Division of Domestic Relations, Juvenile Branch, in which the court granted the motions of Franklin County Children Services ("FCCS"), appellee, for permanent court commitment ("PCC") with regard to three sons, S.S., Ca.N., and C.N., Jr., and one daughter, K.N. (collectively "the children").

         {¶ 2} Mother and father, Ch.N. (collectively "the parents"), are the parents of all four children. On October 29, 2015, FCCS filed two complaints alleging the children were dependent, the parents had drug issues, and the children failed to attend school regularly. In January 2016, the trial court adjudicated the children dependent. FCCS was awarded temporary court commitment.

         {¶ 3} On June 29, 2016, FCCS filed a motion for PCC in each case. Based upon a conflict between the recommendation of the children's guardian ad litem ("GAL") and the wishes of the children, the GAL became attorney for the children, and the court appointed a new GAL.

         {¶ 4} The GAL filed reports on March 13, 2017, recommending that PCC be granted to FCCS. On April 21, 2017, FCCS refiled their motions for PCC alleging the children had been in the custody of FCCS for 12 months of a consecutive 22-month period.

         {¶ 5} On July 9, 2017, the GAL filed a report in each case, again recommending PCC be granted to FCCS. On the date of trial, July 10 2017, counsel for mother requested a one-day continuance because mother was out of town but would be traveling home that day, and the GAL did not comply with Sup.R. 48(F) and Loc.Juv.R. 4(D) of the Court of Common Pleas of Franklin County, Juvenile Branch, by filing her reports less than seven days prior to the trial date. The trial court granted the continuance until the next day to allow for mother's appearance at trial.

         {¶ 6} Trial commenced on July 11, 2017. Father was present, but mother did not appear. Mother's counsel did not ask for a continuance again based on the late filing of the GAL reports. Testimony was adduced and evidence presented, the details of which are not germane to the issues presently on appeal. On August 25, 2017, the trial court granted FCCS's motions for PCC. Mother appeals the trial court's judgment, asserting the following assignment of error:

The Court below erred in granting the Motion for Franklin County Children Services (FCCS) for Permanent Custody, due to the fact that the case should have been continued or the testimony of the Guardian ad Litem stricken because of the failure of the Guardian ad Litem to comply with the terms of Superintendence Rule 48 and Local Court Rule 4.

         {¶ 7} Mother argues in her assignment of error the trial court erred when it did not continue the trial or strike the GAL's testimony because the GAL did not comply with Sup.R. 48(F) and Loc.Juv.R. 4(D) when she filed her report in each case less than seven days prior to the trial date. Sup.R. 48(F) provides:

Reports of guardians ad litem. A guardian ad litem shall prepare a written final report, including recommendations to the court, within the times set forth in this division. * * * In addition, the following provisions shall apply to guardian ad litem reports in the ...

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