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In re L.D.

Court of Appeals of Ohio, First District, Hamilton

December 6, 2019

IN RE: L.D.

          Appeal From: Hamilton County Juvenile Court, TRIAL NO. F17-914z.

         Judgment Appealed From Is: Affirmed.

          Anzelmo Law and James A. Anzelmo, for Appellant Mother.

          Joseph T. Deters, Hamilton County Prosecuting Attorney, and Jonathan Halvonik, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney, for Appellee Hamilton County Department of Job and Family Services.

          OPINION

          Crouse, Judge.

         {¶1} Mother has appealed from the trial court's entry granting permanent custody of her child L.D. to the Hamilton County Department of Job and Family Services ("JFS"). In one assignment of error, she argues that JFS failed to establish by clear and convincing evidence that it should be awarded permanent custody of L.D. We overrule mother's assignment of error and affirm the judgment of the juvenile court.

         Procedural Background

         {¶2} JFS was granted interim custody of L.D. on March 28, 2017, after mother's boyfriend overdosed in the home and concerns arose about the safety of L.D. Mother admitted to using methamphetamine, opiates, and marijuana at the time. L.D. also tested positive for amphetamine and phentermine at birth. On June 29, 2017, L.D. was adjudicated "abused and dependent," and JFS was granted temporary custody. On December 4, 2017, JFS filed a motion to award custody to mother's sister, but later withdrew the motion. On January 22, 2019, JFS moved for permanent custody. After a hearing, the magistrate ordered that mother's parental rights be terminated with respect to L.D., and that L.D. be placed in the permanent custody of JFS. Mother filed objections to the magistrate's decision. After a hearing, the juvenile court overruled mother's objections and adopted the decision of the magistrate.

         Sole Assignment of Error

         {¶3} Mother's sole assignment of error is that the state failed to meet its burden of establishing by clear and convincing evidence that permanent custody of L.D. should be awarded to JFS.

         {¶4} In a case involving the termination of parental rights, an appellate court reviews the record and determines whether the juvenile court's decision was supported by clear and convincing evidence. In re W.W., 1st Dist. Hamilton No. C-110363, 2011-Ohio-4912, ¶ 46. Clear and convincing evidence is evidence sufficient to "produce in the mind of the trier of fact a firm belief or conviction as to the facts sought to be established." Id.; Cross v. Ledford, 161 Ohio St. 469, 120 N.E.2d 118 (1954), paragraph three of the syllabus. Where some competent and credible evidence supports the court's decision, this court will not substitute its judgment for that of the juvenile court. In re W.W. at ¶ 46.

         {¶5} "Although the termination of the rights of a natural parent should be an alternative of 'last resort,' such an extreme disposition is nevertheless expressly sanctioned [under R.C. 2151.353] when it is necessary for the 'welfare' of the child." In re Cunningham, 59 Ohio St.2d 100, 105, 391 N.E.2d 1034 (1979), quoting In re Fassinger, 42 Ohio St.2d 505, 330 N.E.2d 431 (1975).

         {¶6} When a child has been previously adjudicated dependent and temporary custody has been granted to JFS pursuant to R.C. 2151.353(A)(2), JFS may move for permanent custody of the child pursuant to R.C. 2151.413(A) and 2151.414. The court will grant permanent custody to JFS if a two-prong test is satisfied. See R.C. 2151.414(B).

         First ...


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