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In re C.B.

Court of Appeals of Ohio, First District, Hamilton

July 17, 2019

IN RE: C.B.

          Appeals From Hamilton County Juvenile Court Trial Nos. 17-1890z, 17-2166z

          Joseph T. Deters, Hamilton County Prosecuting Attorney, and Paula E. Adams, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney, for Plaintiff-Appellee,

          Soumyajit Dutta, for Defendant-Appellant.

          OPINION

          MOCK, PRESIDING JUDGE.

         {¶1} In a case of first impression, we conclude that the deadlines for completing competency-attainment services found in R.C. 2152.59(D)(2)(a) may be extended by agreement of the parties. For this reason, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

         Competency Determination Continued by Agreement

         {¶2} C.B. was accused of being delinquent for committing acts that would have been misdemeanors if C.B. had been an adult at the time of their commission. There was a subsequent suggestion that C.B. was not competent to stand trial. On May 15, 2017, the trial court ordered that measures be taken to restore C.B. to competency. Pursuant to R.C. 2152.59(D)(2)(a), the trial court had three months to restore C.B. to competency.

         {¶3} Four days before the deadline expired, the parties appeared before the trial court. Counsel for C.B. and C.B.'s guardian ad litem both agreed that extending the deadline was appropriate in order to attempt to restore C.B.'s competence while avoiding having the trial court order C.B. into custody to facilitate restoration. The issue seemed to be with getting C.B. to the sessions. In order to allow time to do this, counsel agreed to extending the time, while the guardian ad litem assured the court that C.B.'s father would get C.B. to the next session. On September 7, 2017, C.B. was found competent to stand trial. Counsel for C.B. then filed a motion to dismiss the complaints, arguing that competency had not been obtained by the original deadline. Counsel filed the motion, citing this court's decision addressing the issue, which had been released on September 20. See In re J.F., 2017-Ohio-7675, 97 N.E.3d 999 (1st Dist.). The magistrate agreed that In re J.F. was dispositive and issued an order dismissing the complaints. The state objected, and the trial court overruled the decision of the magistrate. C.B. now appeals.

         The Parties Can Agree to Extend the Deadline

         {¶4} In one assignment of error, C.B. argues that the trial court erred when it overruled the decision of the magistrate. C.B. argues that the three-month deadline found in R.C. 2152.59(D)(2)(a) is mandatory, and therefore, when the trial court found C.B. competent outside that deadline, it erred. C.B. claims that our decision in In re J.F. is dispositive on that issue. In that case, the state had argued that the time for restoring competence should be tolled during periods in which the juvenile refused to cooperate with the restoration plan. Id. This court determined that "R.C. 2152.59 does not provide for a tolling of this time period based on a juvenile's failure to participate in services." Id. at ¶ 22. The court further noted that the statute provided a specific remedy for noncompliance, including "a change in setting or services that would help the child attain competency." Id. at ¶ 23, citing R.C. 2152.59(H)(2).

         {¶5} In her brief, C.B. argued that "the 1st District adopted a plain-language reading of the statute and noted that 'R.C. 2152.59(D)(2) clearly and unambiguously provides that a juvenile may not participate in attainment longer than the statutorily specified maximum period of time.'" See id. at ¶ 27. But the court actually said that "RC. 2152.59(D)(2) clearly and unambiguously provides that a juvenile may not be required to participate in attainment services for longer than the statutorily specified maximum period of time." (Emphasis added.) Id. This language parallels the language in the statute, which states that "No child shall be required to participate in competency attainment services for longer than is required for the child to attain competency." (Emphasis added.) RC. 2152.59(D)(2).

         {¶6} C.B. emphasizes the language in R.C. 2152.59(D)(2)(a), which seems to make the periods mandatory and unalterable. Read in conjunction with R.C. 2152.59(D)(2), the provisions provide that:

(2) No child shall be required to participate in competency attainment services for longer than is required for ...

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