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In re J.D.

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Twelfth District, Butler

June 3, 2019

IN RE: J.D.

          APPEAL FROM BUTLER COUNTY COURT OF COMMON PLEAS JUVENILE DIVISION Case No. JN2016-0427

          Michael T. Gmoser, Butler County Prosecuting Attorney, John C. Heinkel, for appellee

          Garrett Law Offices, Dawn S. Garrett, for appellant mother

          Jeremy Evans, for father

          Legal Aid Society of Southwest Ohio, LLC, Tracy A. Washington, for child

          The Search Law Firm, Lorraine Search, guardian ad litem

          OPINION

          PIPER, J.

         {¶ 1} Appellant, the mother of J.D., appeals a decision of the Butler County Court of Common Pleas, Juvenile Division, awarding permanent custody of the child to a children services agency.

         {¶ 2} Butler County Department of Job and Family Services ("BCDJFS") has a history with appellant and J.D. dating back to 2012. Most recently, J.D.'s case was transferred to Butler County after the child was adjudicated dependent in Greene County, Ohio. J.D. was initially placed in the custody of appellant, but was eventually removed from appellant's home in March 2017 and placed in the temporary custody of the agency. When appellant failed to make progress on her case plan, the agency moved for permanent custody of the child.

         {¶ 3} A hearing was held before a magistrate in September 2018. The magistrate issued a decision on October 16, 2018 granting permanent custody of J.D. to the agency. The trial court adopted the magistrate's decision on the same day it was issued. On November 6, 2018, appellant filed objections, along with a request to file the objections out of time. The trial court issued a decision overruling the objections on January 14, 2019, and appellant appealed the decision on February 12, 2019.

         {¶ 4} Appellant now raises one assignment of error challenging the trial court's decision to grant permanent custody, arguing the trial court's best interest determination is not supported by clear and convincing evidence and is against the manifest weight of the evidence. After addressing appellant's arguments on appeal, the state argues that the appeal should be dismissed because this court is without jurisdiction to hear the appeal. We begin by addressing this latter issue.

         {¶ 5} The juvenile rules require written objections to a magistrate's decision to be filed within 14 days of the filing of the magistrate's decision. Juv. R. 40(D)(3)(b)(i). The rules further provide that a court may enter a judgment either during the 14 days permitted for the filing of objections or after the 14 days have expired. Juv.R. 40(D)(4)(e)(1).

         {¶ 6} A trial court does not have jurisdiction to consider untimely objections if the court has already adopted the magistrate's decision. In re R.L.D., 12th Dist. Butler Nos. CA2016-07-132 and CA2016-07-133, 2017-Ohio-1093, ¶ 10; In re C.B., 12th Dist. Clermont No. CA2013-12-094, 2014-Ohio-3784; In re J.A.M., 12th Dist. Butler No. 2010-07-174, 2-11- Ohio-668, ¶ 15. Instead, the juvenile court's jurisdiction terminates when it has adopted a magistrate's decision and no timely objections have been filed. R.L.D. at ¶ 10.

         {¶ 7} Accordingly, once a magistrate's order has been adopted, a juvenile court's later decision overruling a party's untimely objections is void. Id. Moreover, if a trial court adopts a magistrate's decision and no timely objections have been filed, the trial court's decision adopting the magistrate's decision is a ...


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