In re JS, COA03-1047.

Citation598 S.E.2d 658, 165 NC App. 509
Case DateJuly 20, 2004
CourtCourt of Appeal of North Carolina (US)

598 S.E.2d 658
165 NC App.

In re J.S

No. COA03-1047.

Court of Appeals of North Carolina.

July 20, 2004.

598 S.E.2d 659
Hunton & Williams, by Jason S. Thomas, Raleigh, for petitioner-appellee Guardian Ad Litem

John. F. Campbell, Fayetteville, for petitioner-appellee Cumberland County Department of Social Services.

Katharine Chester for respondents-appellants.


Respondents appeal the district court's Permanency Planning Order relieving Cumberland County Department of Social Services (DSS) of reunification and visitation efforts with the parents.

Respondents are the parents of three boys, now ages fifteen, eleven, and four. Respondent-father receives Social Security Disability due to several strokes he had in 1999 and is unable to work. Respondent-mother is also unemployed. On 15 March 2001, DSS filed a juvenile petition regarding the children, alleging they were neglected, in that they: (1) lived in unsanitary and unsafe conditions; (2) had poor attendance at school; (3) had very poor personal hygiene; (4) received inadequate medical care; and (5) the parents were unable to manage their finances in a responsible way. On 17 April 2001, the trial judge issued orders for non-secure custody of the three children, placing their custody with DSS. Additional orders for non-secure custody were issued on 4 May 2001 and 14 June 2001, finding that grounds existed to continue the non-secure custody order. On 12 June 2001, the trial court conducted the adjudication and dispositional hearings, where DSS moved to amend the petition to include allegations of dependency. Since respondents stipulated to dependency, DSS took a voluntary dismissal on the neglect allegations. The court continued the matter for review. On 15 November 2001, the trial court conducted a review hearing pursuant to N.C. Gen.Stat. § 7B-906. The trial court found that reasonable efforts were being made to reunite the children with their family, or to provide a permanent plan for the children, but that the return of the children to the parent's custody would be contrary to the welfare of the minors. While legal custody remained with DSS, physical custody of the two youngest boys was placed with relatives of respondents and the oldest boy was placed in foster care. The parents were allowed visitation with the children. The court conducted periodic permanency planning hearings on 20 February 2002, 20 March 2002, 12 June 2002, and 22 August 2002.

At the 22 August 2002 permanency planing review, the court relieved DSS from its reunification and visitation efforts as to the minor children. Respondents appeal.

598 S.E.2d 660
In respondents' first assignment of error, they contend the trial court's findings of fact are not supported by competent evidence and, in turn, the findings of fact do not support the conclusions of law. Our analysis of this issue also includes respondents' second assignment of error, in which they assert it was error for the trial court to make a finding of fact which merely incorporated reports of others

"In all actions tried upon the facts without a jury ... the court shall find the facts specifically and state separately its conclusions of law thereon...." N.C. Gen.Stat. § 1A-1, Rule 52(a)(1) (2003). Thus, the trial court must, through "processes of logical reasoning," based on the evidentiary facts before it, "find the ultimate facts essential to support the conclusions of law." In re Harton, 156 N.C.App. 655, 660, 577 S.E.2d 334, 337 (2003). The resulting findings of fact must be "sufficiently specific to enable an appellate court to review the decision and test the correctness of the judgment." Quick v. Quick, 305 N.C. 446, 451, 290 S.E.2d 653, 657 (1982). Where the trial court's findings are supported by competent evidence, they are binding on appeal, even if there is evidence which would support a finding to the contrary. In re Weiler, 158 N.C.App. 473, 477, 581 S.E.2d 134, 137 (2003).

Here, the trial court's findings are not "specific ultimate facts," which are sufficient for this Court to determine that it was proper for the lower court to allow DSS to cease reunification efforts. In re Anderson, 151 N.C.App. 94, 97, 564 S.E.2d 599, 602 (2002) (noting that "ultimate facts" are the resulting effect reached by the court's application of logical reasoning to the evidentiary facts). In this case, the trial court entered a cursory two page order. It did not incorporate any prior orders or findings of fact from those orders. Instead, the trial court...

To continue reading

Request your trial
99 cases
  • State v. Coley
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of North Carolina (US)
    • November 4, 2008
    ...a court "should not broadly incorporate ... written reports from outside sources as its findings of fact." In re J.S., 165 N.C.App. 509, 511, 598 S.E.2d 658, 660 (2004) (emphasis added). This Court has explained that "although the trial court may properly incorporate various reports into it......
  • Capps v. NW Sign Industries of North Carolina, Inc., No. COA06-1297 (N.C. App. 8/21/2007)
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of North Carolina (US)
    • August 21, 2007
    ...319, 322 (2005) (quoting Anderson v. Anderson, 145 N.C. App. 453, 456, 550 S.E.2d 266, 269 (2001)); see also In re J.S., 165 N.C. App. 509, 514, 598 S.E.2d 658, 662 (2004) (citing Anderson, 145 N.C. App. at 456, 550 S.E.2d at 269). Here, defense counsel (1) received notice of the hearing on......
  • In the Matter of D.D., No. COA06-1411 (N.C. App. 4/17/2007)
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of North Carolina (US)
    • April 17, 2007
    ...evidentiary facts led the court to "' find the ultimate facts essential to support the conclusions of law.'" In re J.S., 165 N.C. App. 509, 511, 598 S.E.2d 658, 660 (2004) (quoting In re Harton, 156 N.C. App. at 660, 577 S.E.2d at 337). The court may not delegate its fact-finding responsibi......
  • In the Matter of D.R.G., No. COA07-341 (N.C. App. 8/7/2007)
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of North Carolina (US)
    • August 7, 2007 bound by the trial court's findings "even if there is evidence which would support a finding to the contrary."In re J.S., 165 N.C. App. 509, 511, 598 S.E.2d 658, 660 (2004) (citing In re Weiler, 158 N.C. App. 473, 477, 581 S.E.2d 134, 137 (2003)). Moreover, "`[w]here no exception is take......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT