C.P. v. Cullman County Department Of Human Resources, 022616 ALCIV, 2140935

Docket Nº:2140933, 2140934, 2140935
Opinion Judge:MOORE, Judge.
Party Name:C.P. v. Cullman County Department of Human Resources
Judge Panel:Thompson, P.J., and Pittman, Thomas, and Donaldson, JJ., concur.
Case Date:February 26, 2016
Court:Alabama Court of Civil Appeals



Cullman County Department of Human Resources

Nos. 2140933, 2140934, 2140935

Alabama Court of Civil Appeals

February 26, 2016

Appeals from Cullman Juvenile Court (JU-10-41.05, JU-14-284.02, and JU-14-285.02)

MOORE, Judge.

C.P. ("the father") appeals from separate judgments of the Cullman Juvenile Court ("the juvenile court") terminating his parental rights to O.P., U.P., and A.P. ("the children"). We affirm the juvenile court's judgments.

Procedural History

On April 30, 2015, the Cullman County Department of Human Resources ("DHR") filed separate petitions to terminate the parental rights of the father and K.P. ("the mother") to the children. Following a final hearing on July 23, 2015, the juvenile court entered separate judgments on July 28, 2015, terminating the parental rights of the mother and the father to the children and awarding custody of the children to DHR. The father filed his notice of appeal to this court on August 6, 2015.1


The father has an extensive history with DHR. Stephanie Lawson, a supervisor and intake worker for DHR, testified that, in October 2004, DHR had received a report that the father had taken I.S., the father's older child from a previous relationship with T.S., and not allowed T.S. contact with I.S. for approximately nine weeks. Lawson stated that, once T.S. had regained contact with I.S. following that incident, I.S. had made statements that raised concerns that the father had exposed I.S. to drugs. According to Lawson, following that incident, the father had failed to cooperate with DHR and DHR had been unable to locate the father. Lawson testified, however, that, in 2005, DHR had received a report that I.S. had a knot on his head and that I.S. had expressed that he had received that injury from fighting with the father. Lawson stated that DHR had been unable to complete its investigation of that report because it had been unable to contact the father.

Connie Yarbrough, a service supervisor at DHR, testified that she had been supervising DHR's investigation unit on January 26, 2010, when the unit received a report that the mother had filed a protection-from-abuse petition against the father based on his alleged commission of domestic violence. Yarbrough stated that the mother had later returned to dismiss the petition and that the person who had reported the filing of the petition to DHR had stated that the mother had indicated that she was dismissing the petition because the father had refused to return O.P., who was born March 3, 2009, to her custody unless she dismissed the petition. According to Yarbrough, the person who had made the report to DHR had also stated that the father had been very violent toward the mother and that, at one point when O.P. was two to four months old, the father had "slung" O.P. by her feet into a clothes basket. Yarbrough testified that there had initially been allegations that D.F. ("the paternal grandmother") had provided prescription pills to the father, but the father and the paternal grandmother had denied that accusation; however, according to Yarbrough, that information had raised a concern, which had prevented the paternal grandmother from being considered as a safety-plan placement for O.P. Yarbrough stated that, when DHR began to investigate the report, it had learned that there had been five previous domestic-violence charges, along with additional charges, filed against the father. She stated that the father had denied any domestic violence on that most recent occasion but that O.P. had been placed into protective custody and transferred to DHR's foster-care unit for approximately six months, after which O.P. had been returned to the parents' custody.

Debra Coffey, who had previously worked for DHR as a social-service caseworker in the foster-care unit, testified that, while the 2010 report regarding the mother and the father was being investigated, DHR had provided to the mother and the father individual counseling, which had included marital counseling, parenting counseling, and counseling regarding anger management and domestic violence. Coffey testified that the mother and the father had completed that counseling and that, although they had not been compliant with DHR's directives initially, they had been compliant toward the end of the investigation and DHR's case had been closed in December 2010. Coffey stated, however, that, in January 2011, DHR had received a report of domestic violence in the home of the mother and the father. She stated that, at that time, the mother and the father were separated, that the mother had gone to the father's house to pick up O.P. for visitation, and that a "brawl" had broken out, culminating in the father's shooting a gun up into the air and him leaving with O.P. Coffey testified that, when the mother had arrived to pick up O.P. on that occasion, the paternal grandmother had become physically aggressive toward her and the paternal grandmother and the father had not allowed the mother to take O.P. with her. According to Coffey, there had been concerns at that time regarding the father's use of drugs, including his smoking marijuana and taking Adderall, a prescription medication that had not been prescribed to him. Coffey testified that O.P. was taken back into DHR's care at that time due to the domestic violence in the father's home and that the mother and the father were not cooperative with DHR. She stated that the father had claimed that he had not shot the gun at anybody, only up in the air, and that the mother and the father had failed to acknowledge that shooting a firearm around a child was a strong reason for concern.

Amy Smith, a DHR employee, testified that, in February 2014, DHR had received a report that A.P. had been born on January 31, 2014, and that he had tested positive for opiates and amphetamines at his birth. She stated that, at that point, DHR had initiated an investigation and had performed drug screens on the mother and the father, which were negative. Smith stated that DHR had spoken with the mother's doctor, who had indicated that the mother's use of a prescription drug and an over-the-counter medication could have resulted in false positive results for opiates and amphetamines in A.P. Although DHR did not have an opportunity to intervene at that time based on the lack of concern by the mother's doctors, Smith testified that that investigation was still open in April 3, 2014, when DHR received a report regarding an incident with the father.

Daniel Cummings, a deputy sheriff at the Cullman County Sheriff's Department, testified that he had responded to a call in reference to a possible intoxicated driver at a gas station on April 3, 2014, at approximately 11 p.m. and that, when he arrived, he had discovered the father attempting to "slim jim his car open" because he had locked his keys in his car. Cummings testified that he had spoken with the father, that the father "would go from very calm to irate, " and that the father had been unable to stay still. According to Cummings, he had performed a field sobriety test on the father and the father had performed poorly. Cummings stated that he and Sgt. Brandon Eddy, who had arrived at the scene to assist him, had discovered a small child in the father's vehicle after it had been unlocked and that they had contacted a DHR worker to assess the situation. Jamie Knight, who was working as an adult-service worker for DHR at that time, testified that she had been the on-call worker who had...

To continue reading