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In re T.W.-T.

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Second District, Montgomery

August 9, 2019

IN RE: T.W.-T.

          Appeal from Common Pleas Court-Juvenile Division Trial Court Case No. 2016-592

          MATHIAS H. HECK, JR., by LISA M. LIGHT, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney, Montgomery County Prosecutor's Office, Appellate Division, Montgomery County Courts Building, Attorney for Appellee, Montgomery County Children Services.

          JEFFERY REZABEK, Attorney for Appellant.


          TUCKER, J.

         {¶ 1} Mother appeals from a judgment of the Montgomery County Common Pleas Court, Juvenile Division, which terminated her parental rights and placed her son, T.W.-T., in the permanent custody of Montgomery County Children Services ("MCCS"). For the reasons that follow, we affirm.

         I. Facts and Course of the Proceedings

         {¶ 2} MCCS has a long history with Mother, having first become involved with her when she was a juvenile in foster care. In 2009, while still in foster care, Mother gave birth to a daughter. That child was eventually adjudicated dependent and placed in the legal custody of relatives. Mother has no contact with that child. In December 2014, Mother gave birth to T.W.-T.

         {¶ 3} On October 6, 2015, Mother threatened an RTA bus driver by sparking a taser near him. T.W.-T., who was ten months old at the time, was on the bus with Mother during the incident. Because Mother was arrested and jailed, she placed the child in the care of the biological father. Thereafter, Mother was released on electronic home monitoring pending trial.

         {¶ 4} That same month, Mother was involuntarily committed to a psychiatric unit following an attempted suicide. On October 24, 2015, while Mother was hospitalized, MCCS conducted a visit with her. Mother admitted that she had not been receiving mental health treatment on a regular basis and that she had not been taking the medication prescribed for her bipolar disorder. Mother informed MCCS that she had been evicted from her home. Mother admitted to sparking the taser at the bus driver, but stated that it was justified because the driver was causing problems for her. Mother agreed to let T.W.-T. remain with his father and agreed to supervised visitation after she was stabilized and discharged.

         {¶ 5} Upon her release from the hospital, Mother stayed with a maternal relative. However, in November 2015, Mother set fire to some leaves near the relative's home. Mother denied attempting to burn down the relative's residence, and instead, indicated that she merely wanted to scare the relative. Mother also threatened the relative with a knife, and the two became involved in a physical altercation. Police were called, but no arrest was made. However, Mother subsequently removed her ankle monitor and was arrested. On December 23, 2015, Mother was convicted of aggravated menacing and resisting arrest. She was sentenced to community control.

         {¶ 6} MCCS filed a complaint for neglect and dependency in January 2016. In April 2016, T.W.-T. was adjudicated neglected and dependent. Temporary custody was granted to Father. In December 2016, Father was arrested for a parole violation and returned to prison. On December 13, 2016, following Father's arrest, MCCS was granted temporary custody of T.W.-T., who was placed in foster care.

         {¶ 7} A case plan was established for Mother requiring her to engage in mental health care and to obtain stable housing and income. The plan also required Mother to participate in the child's health care appointments once she stabilized her mental health issues. The plan required Mother to abstain from using drugs or alcohol. Finally, the plan required Mother to engage in visitations with the child.

         {¶ 8} Two extensions of temporary custody were requested and granted. On December 18, 2017, MCCS filed a motion for permanent custody. A hearing was conducted on March 22, 2018. Mother was present and represented by counsel. During the testimony of another witness, Mother had to be admonished to control her behavior. Mother then expressed her desire to leave the hearing. Therefore, the juvenile court interrupted the testimony of the witness on the stand and permitted Mother to present her testimony. Thereafter, Mother left the hearing and expressed her willingness to allow her attorney to represent her without her presence.

         {¶ 9} Following the hearing, the magistrate awarded permanent custody to MCCS. Mother filed objections, which were overruled, and the trial court ...

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