FROM JUDGMENT ENTERED IN THE COURT OF COMMON PLEAS COUNTY OF
SUMMIT, OHIO CASE No. DN 18 09 0921
P. AGARWAL, Attorney at Law, for Appellant.
BEVAN WALSH, Prosecuting Attorney, and HEAVEN DIMARTINO
GUEST, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney, for Appellee.
FERGUSON, Attorney at Law, for Appellee.
ANNETTE POWERS, Guardian ad Litem.
DECISION AND JOURNAL ENTRY
S. CALLAHAN JUDGE.
Appellant, D.D. ("Father"), appeals from a judgment
of the Summit County Court of Common Pleas, Juvenile
Division, that vacated its prior judgment that placed S.L.M.
in the legal custody of Father. This Court reverses and
Father and Mother are the biological parents of S.L.M., born
February 24, 2009. Mother has two other children who were
parties to the trial court case, but they are not
Father's children and are not parties to this appeal.
On September 20, 2018, Summit County Children Services Board
("CSB") filed a complaint, alleging that S.L.M. was
a neglected and dependent child because Mother was abusing
drugs and otherwise failing to meet the child's needs.
CSB sought an initial disposition of temporary custody to
Father, who did not live with Mother, with protective
supervision by CSB. Father was granted emergency temporary
custody the same day.
S.L.M. was later adjudicated a neglected and dependent child
and placed in the temporary custody of Father. Shortly
afterward, Father moved for legal custody of S.L.M. On
February 25, 2019, the trial court issued an order scheduling
a review hearing for March 15, 2019, and explained that
Father's motion for legal custody would be considered at
that hearing. Because Mother was not then represented by
counsel, the order further stated that "[i]t is
important that Mother immediately see the bailiff and submit
an application for the appointment of an attorney."
Upon the motion of the guardian ad litem, the hearing was
continued until May 1, 2019. At the May 1 hearing before a
magistrate, Mother appeared and requested a continuance so
she could obtain counsel. The magistrate orally denied
Mother's request for a continuance and proceeded with the
hearing on Father's motion for legal custody. The
magistrate did not file a dispositional decision, however,
until several weeks later.
In the meantime, Mother requested and was appointed trial
counsel. On May 31, 2019, the magistrate's dispositional
decision was filed. The decision, which was adopted the same
day by the trial court, placed S.L.M. in the legal custody of
Father. It is unclear from the record whether the
magistrate's decision was served on Mother's newly
appointed trial counsel.
After the hearing but before the magistrate's decision
was filed, Mother filed pro se objections to the
magistrate's decision. The Ohio Supreme Court has held
that premature objections to a magistrate's decision are
deemed filed as of the date of the magistrate's decision
and should be considered on the merits. See Gordon v.
Gordon,98 Ohio St.3d 334, 2003-Ohio-1069, syllabus. The
trial court waited until after the magistrate's decision
was filed and allowed Mother time to request a transcript of
the hearing. Because Mother did not supplement her objections
with a transcript of the proceedings, the trial court ...