In re C.M.C., No. 109A19

Docket NºNo. 109A19
Citation832 S.E.2d 681, 373 N.C. 24
Case DateSeptember 27, 2019
CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of North Carolina

373 N.C. 24
832 S.E.2d 681

In the MATTER OF: C.M.C.

No. 109A19

Supreme Court of North Carolina.

Filed 27 September 2019


Jordan R. Israel for petitioner-appellee Haywood County Health and Human Services Agency.

Alston & Bird LLP, Raleigh, by Sarah R. Cansler, for appellee Guardian ad Litem.

David A. Perez, Thomasville, for respondent-appellant mother.

ERVIN, Justice.

373 N.C. 25

Respondent-mother Heather C. appeals from an order entered by the trial court terminating her parental rights in her daughter C.M.C.1 After careful consideration of respondent-mother's challenge to the trial court's termination orders in light of the record and the applicable law, we conclude that the trial court's orders should be affirmed.

On 19 September 2017, the Haywood County Health and Human Services Agency filed a petition alleging that Caroline was an abused, neglected and dependent juvenile.

832 S.E.2d 682

The HHSA had received a report on 29 August 2017 that respondent-mother had given birth to Caroline in June 2017 while at home and without medical assistance; that Caroline had not received medical care since her birth; and that respondent-mother was using drugs. Respondent-mother and Rex C., Caroline's putative father, told the social workers responsible for investigating this report that Caroline had not received medical care because she did not have Medicaid and the couple could not afford a doctor. According to respondent-mother and the putative father, the couple and their family had always lived in Haywood County except for brief stints in Florida and Georgia, that their three other children lived with their maternal grandmother, and that neither respondent-mother nor the putative father had any pending criminal charges or prior history of child protective services involvement. Other information developed by the investigating social workers revealed, however, that the other children had been removed from the parents’ care in North Dakota as the result of abuse-related concerns; that the North Dakota courts were about to terminate the parents’ parental rights in two of their other children; and that the parents were being prosecuted in North Dakota for abusing those two children.

On 19 September 2017, Judge Monica H. Leslie entered an order granting non-secure custody of Caroline to the HHSA. Following the entry of the non-secure custody order, social workers and deputies employed by the Haywood County Sheriff's Office went to respondent-mother's home in order to search for Caroline. However, neither respondent-mother, the putative father, nor Caroline were present at the family home when the social workers and deputies arrived. On 20 September 2017, respondent-mother, the putative father, and Caroline were found in the basement of a family friend's residence. At that point, Caroline was taken into HHSA custody and admitted to the hospital and respondent-mother and the putative father were arrested on the basis of

373 N.C. 26

warrants that had been issued against them in connection with the pending North Dakota child abuse charges. A subsequent medical examination revealed that Caroline had several fractured ribs and tested positive for the presence of controlled substances. Following her release from the hospital, Caroline was placed in foster care.

On 9 February 2018, the trial court entered an adjudication order finding Caroline to be an abused, neglected and dependent juvenile and determining that aggravating circumstances authorizing the immediate cessation of reunification efforts consisting of "[c]hronic physical or emotional abuse," "[t]orture," "[c]hronic or toxic exposure to alcohol or controlled substances that causes impairment of or addiction in the juvenile," and "[a]ny other act, practice, or conduct that increased the enormity or added to the injurious consequences of the abuse or neglect" existed. N.C.G.S. § 7B-901(c)(1)(b), (c) (e), (f) (2017). On the same date, the trial court entered a dispositional order placing Caroline in the custody of the HHSA, establishing a permanent plan of adoption with a concurrent permanent plan of guardianship with a relative or court-appointed caretaker, and relieving the HHSA from any further responsibility for attempting to reunify Caroline with respondent-mother and the putative father.

On 5 April 2018, the HHSA filed a petition seeking the entry of an order terminating the parental rights of respondent-mother, the putative father, and any unknown father in Caroline. The issues raised by the HHSA's termination petition came on for hearing before the trial court on 10 September 2018. At the conclusion of the hearing, the trial court announced that the parental rights of...

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4 practice notes
  • In re E.D.H., 207A21
    • United States
    • North Carolina United States State Supreme Court of North Carolina
    • June 17, 2022
    ...that a substitute judge cannot find facts or state conclusions of law in a matter over which he or she did not preside. See In re C.M.C. , 373 N.C. 24, 28, 832 S.E.2d 681 (2019). Conversely, and respondent concedes, if Judge Houston made the findings of fact and conclusions of law that appe......
  • In re E.D.H., 207A21
    • United States
    • North Carolina United States State Supreme Court of North Carolina
    • June 17, 2022
    ...that a substitute judge cannot find facts or state conclusions of law in a matter over which he or she did not preside. See In re C.M.C., 373 N.C. 24, 28 (2019). Conversely, and respondent concedes, if Judge Houston made the findings of fact and conclusions of law that appear in the order b......
  • In re R.P., No. COA20-311
    • United States
    • North Carolina Court of Appeal of North Carolina (US)
    • March 16, 2021
    ...voiding Judge Martelle's order would be an improper extension of our Supreme Court of North Carolina's recent holding in In re C.M.C. , 373 N.C. 24, 28, 832 S.E.2d 681, 684 (2019). DSS argues the reasoning in C.M.C. is only applicable to termination of parental rights hearings and orders an......
  • In re K.N., 110A19-2
    • United States
    • North Carolina United States State Supreme Court of North Carolina
    • July 15, 2022
    ...hearing. That order was subsequently vacated and a second order was entered that was signed by the same judge who conducted the hearing. 373 N.C. 24, 25–27, 832 S.E.2d 681 (2019). We held "that the initial termination orders signed by [the substitute judge] were ... a nullity." Id......
4 cases
  • In re E.D.H., 207A21
    • United States
    • North Carolina United States State Supreme Court of North Carolina
    • June 17, 2022
    ...that a substitute judge cannot find facts or state conclusions of law in a matter over which he or she did not preside. See In re C.M.C. , 373 N.C. 24, 28, 832 S.E.2d 681 (2019). Conversely, and respondent concedes, if Judge Houston made the findings of fact and conclusions of law that appe......
  • In re E.D.H., 207A21
    • United States
    • North Carolina United States State Supreme Court of North Carolina
    • June 17, 2022
    ...that a substitute judge cannot find facts or state conclusions of law in a matter over which he or she did not preside. See In re C.M.C., 373 N.C. 24, 28 (2019). Conversely, and respondent concedes, if Judge Houston made the findings of fact and conclusions of law that appear in the order b......
  • In re R.P., No. COA20-311
    • United States
    • North Carolina Court of Appeal of North Carolina (US)
    • March 16, 2021
    ...voiding Judge Martelle's order would be an improper extension of our Supreme Court of North Carolina's recent holding in In re C.M.C. , 373 N.C. 24, 28, 832 S.E.2d 681, 684 (2019). DSS argues the reasoning in C.M.C. is only applicable to termination of parental rights hearings and orders an......
  • In re K.N., 110A19-2
    • United States
    • North Carolina United States State Supreme Court of North Carolina
    • July 15, 2022
    ...hearing. That order was subsequently vacated and a second order was entered that was signed by the same judge who conducted the hearing. 373 N.C. 24, 25–27, 832 S.E.2d 681 (2019). We held "that the initial termination orders signed by [the substitute judge] were ... a nullity." Id. at 28, 8......

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