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In re J.C.

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Twelfth District, Brown

April 30, 2018

IN THE MATTER OF: J.C.

          APPEAL 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 Family Services.

          Dever Law Firm, Scott A. Hoberg, for appellant T.C.

          Julie Steddom, guardian ad litem

          OPINION

          S. POWELL, P.J.

         {¶ 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 affirm.

         {¶ 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 ever since.

         {¶ 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.[1] The case plan was later amended to ...


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