Court of Appeals of Ohio, Second District, Montgomery
from Common Pleas Court - Juvenile Division Trial Court Case
MATHIAS H. HECK, JR., by SARAH E. HUTNIK, Atty. Reg. No.
0095900, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney, Montgomery County
Prosecutor's Office, Appellate Division, Attorney for
ALAN BRENNER, Atty. Reg. No. 0067714, Attorney for Appellant,
1} Petitioner-appellant Father appeals from a
judgment of the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas,
Juvenile Division, which terminated his parental rights and
granted permanent custody of Father's child, M. J.C., to
Montgomery County Children Services (hereinafter referred to
as "MCCS"). Father filed a timely notice of appeal
with this Court on February 14, 2019.
2} Initially, we note that Father and Mother have
had three other children removed from their custody by MCCS.
The record establishes that in April 2011, the juvenile court
terminated Mother's parental rights to C.M.1. REB Tr.
In June 2012, the juvenile court terminated Mother's
parental rights to C.M.2. REB Tr. 7. In June 2015, the
juvenile court terminated Mother and Father's parental
rights to C.C. REB Tr. 8. MCCS caseworker Cathy Stokes
testified that her concerns with Father when C.C. was removed
were a lack of stable and appropriate housing, inappropriate
parenting practices, and a pattern of domestic violence. REB
Tr. 9. Stokes testified that her concerns for Mother when the
other children were removed were her failure to properly
address the domestic violence perpetrated by Father, a lack
of stable and appropriate housing, inappropriate parenting
practices, and income issues. REB Tr. 9-10.
3} On October 31, 2016, Mother gave birth to M.J.C.
When MCCS became aware of the child's birth, it opened a
case file on M.J.C. based upon Mother and Father's
history with the agency. On November 3, 2016, MCCS filed a
complaint alleging that M.J.C. was a dependent child and
requesting temporary custody. On November 4, 2016, the trial
court granted MCCS interim protective supervision of M.J.C.
In a decision issued on December 13, 2016, the juvenile court
adjudicated M.J.C. to be a dependent child and granted
protective supervision to MCCS. Father was placed on the case
plan with the following objectives: obtain a mental health
assessment and follow the recommendations; obtain a drug and
alcohol assessment; obtain and maintain stable housing;
obtain and maintain sufficient income; complete parenting and
domestic violence classes; complete anger management classes
and follow any recommendations; submit to random drug
screening; and sign releases of information.
4} In early January 2017, Mother reported to the
police and MCCS that Father had struck her in the face,
giving her a black eye. As a result of the domestic violence,
Father was arrested and incarcerated, and on January 13,
2017, M.J.C. was placed in the interim temporary custody of
MCCS. Ultimately, Father was convicted of domestic violence
and sentenced to two years in prison. On January 24, 2017,
MCCS filed a motion to bypass reasonable efforts at
reunification. On May 24, 2017, a hearing was held before the
magistrate with respect to MCCS's motion for a reasonable
efforts bypass. On the same day, the magistrate issued a
decision granting said motion. Father was incarcerated at the
time of the hearing, but he was represented by counsel who
5} Father filed objections and supplemental
objections to the magistrate's decision on May 26, 2017,
and June 6, 2017, respectively. The juvenile court overruled
Father's objections and adopted the magistrate's
decision granting MCCS's motion for a reasonable efforts
bypass in a judgment issued on September 22, 2017. Father
appealed the juvenile court's judgment, but we dismissed
Father's appeal for lack of a final appealable order.
(Decision and Entry, CA 27752, December 1, 2017.)
6} On November 30, 2017, MCCS filed a motion for
permanent custody of M.J.C. A hearing was held before the
magistrate regarding MCCS's motion for permanent custody
on March 8, 2018. At the time of the hearing, Father was
still incarcerated, but he was present at the hearing with
his counsel. At the hearing, evidence was adduced that, due
to Father's ongoing incarceration, he was unable to
complete any of his case plan objectives. MCCS caseworker
Jeffrey Johnson testified that he met with Father in prison
in order to discuss his case plan objectives and review any
programs the prison offered. Johnson testified that Father
indicated that he had not participated in any programs at the
prison, but he had made some inquiries. Johnson testified
that at no point after their meeting did Father contact MCCS
regarding any progress he had made on his case plan. At the
time of the permanent custody hearing, MCCS was unable to
verify whether Father had completed any of his case plan
objectives. Johnson also testified that MCCS was unable to
locate any relatives of Mother or Father with whom M.J.C.
could be placed.
7} M.J.C.'s foster mother, Jeana, also testified
at the permanent custody hearing. Jeana testified that M.J.C.
had been under her and her husband's care and supervision
since January 10, 2017. Jeana also testified that, in addition
to caring for M.J.C, she had already adopted two of his
biological brothers who had previously been removed from
Mother's custody. Jeana testified that M.J.C. had bonded
with his brothers and the whole family, in general. Jeana
testified that M.J.C. was meeting his developmental
milestones and was eating and sleeping well. Jeana testified
that M.J.C. was an overall happy child and that she and her
husband were considering adopting him.
8} In a decision issued on April 20, 2018, the
magistrate granted MCCS's motion for permanent custody of
M.J.C. Father filed timely objections and supplemental
objections to the magistrate's decision. On February 5,
2019, the juvenile court overruled Father's objections
and awarded permanent custody of M.J.C. to MCCS.
9} It is from this judgment that Father now appeals.
10} For clarity's sake, we will address
Father's second assignment of ...