Court of Appeals of Ohio, First District, Hamilton
Appeals From Hamilton County Juvenile Court Trial Nos.
T. Deters, Hamilton County Prosecuting Attorney, and Paula E.
Adams, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney, for
Soumyajit Dutta, for Defendant-Appellant.
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.
Determination Continued by Agreement
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.
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.
Parties Can Agree to Extend the Deadline
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.
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).
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
(2) No child shall be required to participate in
competency attainment services for longer than is required