Court of Appeals of Ohio, Twelfth District, Brown
FROM BROWN COUNTY COURT OF COMMON PLEAS JUVENILE DIVISION
Case No. 2014-3065
Zachary A. Corbin, Brown County Prosecuting Attorney, Mary
McMullen, for appellee Brown County Department of Job and
Law Firm, Scott A. Hoberg, for appellant T.C.
Steddom, guardian ad litem
1} Appellant, T.C, appeals from the decision of the
Brown County Court of Common Pleas, Juvenile Division,
granting permanent custody of his daughter, J.C., to
appellee, Brown County Department of Job and Family Services
("BCDJFS"). For the reasons outlined below, we
2} T.C. is the biological father of the child at
issue, J.C., a girl, born on December 4, 2013. The
child's biological mother is not a party to this appeal.
3} On May 28, 2014, BCDJFS moved the juvenile court
for an emergency ex parte order alleging J.C. was an abused
and dependent child. In support of this motion, BCDJFS
notified the juvenile court that it received a report that
J.C.'s paternal aunt had dropped the child off at
T.C.'s residence, but that T.C. left "when the aunt
came to the residence due to verbal confrontation."
BCDJFS also notified the juvenile court that because there
was nobody to care for J.C., the child had been left with a
neighbor overnight. BCDJFS further notified the juvenile
court that it had since located T.C, who expressed his desire
to now care for J.C, but that T.C. admitted he would be
unable to pass a drug screen for "pills, THC, and other
things." The juvenile court granted BCJDFS's motion
and J.C. was placed in the care of BCDJFS. The juvenile court
then appointed J.C. with a guardian ad litem.
4} On June 2, 2014, BCDJFS filed a complaint
alleging J.C. was a dependent child as defined by R.C.
2151.04(B). Pursuant to that statute, a "dependent
child" is any child "[w]ho lacks adequate parental
care by reason of the mental or physical condition of the
child's parents, guardian, or custodian[.]" The
allegation of dependency was based on the same claims BCDJFS
raised as part of its motion for an emergency ex parte order.
After holding a hearing on the matter, the juvenile court
granted temporary custody of J.C. to BCDJFS. The juvenile
court determined there was probable cause to believe
J.C.'s placement in a foster home was necessary to
prevent immediate or threatened physical or emotional harm.
Two days later, on June 4, 2014, BCDJFS placed J.C. with a
foster-to-adopt family, a placement that has gone unchanged
5} On July 15, 2014, following an adjudication
hearing, the juvenile court issued an entry adjudicating J.C.
a dependent child. Thereafter, on September 29, 2014, after
holding a dispositional hearing, the juvenile court issued an
entry ordering J.C. remain in the temporary custody of
BCDJFS. A case plan was then established that required T.C.
to complete case management services to obtain, maintain, and
provide a safe, stable, and suitable home environment for
J.C. T.C. was also ordered to successfully complete parenting
classes, a drug and alcohol assessment, and outpatient drug
treatment, thus subjecting him to random drug screens.
6} On November 24, 2014, the juvenile court
determined it was in J.C.'s best interest to remain in
the temporary custody of BCDJFS. Several months later, on May
13, 2015, BCJDFS moved for a six-month extension of the
juvenile court's temporary custody order. The following
week, on May 21, 2015, a juvenile court magistrate issued a
decision finding the parties had agreed to extend
BCDJFS's temporary custody for an additional six months.
In issuing this decision, the magistrate found T.C. had
tested negative on all his drug screens. However, as it
relates to his involvement in parenting classes, the
magistrate determined T.C. had only obtained a certificate of
attendance, not a certificate of completion, due to the
"difference of opinions" between T.C. and his
counselor, Dr. A. Eugene Smiley.
7} On August 7, 2015, the guardian ad litem filed a
report with the juvenile court noting her concerns regarding
T.C.'s ability to properly care for his daughter,
including, among others, his truthfulness and his
"failure to participate in any kind of relapse
prevention that involves drug screens." As a result, the
guardian ad litem recommended T.C. be "actively engaged
in relapse prevention with an approved provider." The
guardian ad litem further recommended that T.C. undergo a
psychological evaluation prior to any increase in his
visitation time with J.C.
8} On August 12, 2015, Dr. Smiley filed a report
with the juvenile court listing the numerous concerns he had
regarding T.C, including T.C.'s untreated mental health
issues and "significant history of drug abuse and
general instability relative to life choices, relationships,
etc." Dr. Smiley further noted that T.C. exhibited an
inability and unwillingness to consider any guidance,
direction, and/or training that was outside of his personal
beliefs and view of the world. This includes claims that T.C.
"didn't feel a need to continue drug rehabilitation
since he had been delivered from his addiction by Jesus
Christ." According to Dr. Smiley, due to the significant
nature of these issues, it would be beneficial for T.C.
"to undergo a comprehensive psychological evaluation to
determine where he is relative to emotional and functional
stability sufficient to handle the stresses and issues
related to parenting such a young child." That same day,
BCDJFS also filed a report with the juvenile court indicating
it, too, had concerns regarding T.C.'s mental health.
9} On August 13, 2015, after holding a hearing on
the matter, a juvenile court magistrate issued a decision
noting that both the guardian ad litem and BCDJFS had
requested T.C. complete a psychological evaluation. The
magistrate further noted that BCDJFS had expressed its
intentions to file an amended case plan to modify T.C.'s
visitation time from unsupervised time to supervised time, as
well as a motion for permanent custody. The case plan was
later amended to ...