In re Kaela C., No. 63, September Term, 2005.

CourtCourt of Special Appeals of Maryland
Writing for the CourtBattaglia
Citation906 A.2d 915,394 Md. 439
PartiesIn re KAELA C., Gunner C. and Franklin C.
Docket NumberNo. 63, September Term, 2005.
Decision Date08 September 2006
906 A.2d 915
394 Md. 439
In re KAELA C., Gunner C. and Franklin C.
No. 63, September Term, 2005.
Court of Appeals of Maryland.
September 8, 2006.

Page 916

Brian L. Zavin, Asst. Public Defender (Nancy S. Forster, Public Defender, on brief), for petitioners.

C.J. Messerschmidt, Asst. Atty. Gen. (J. Joseph Curran, Jr., Atty. Gen., on brief), for respondents.

Argued before BELL, C.J., RAKER, WILNER, CATHELL, HARRELL, BATTAGLIA and GREENE, JJ.

BATTAGLIA, J.


Petitioner, Leslie C., seeks review of the Court of Special Appeals's judgment affirming

Page 917

the Circuit Court of Frederick County's order in which it adopted the recommendations and findings of a master prior to the expiration of the five-day period to file exceptions afforded by Maryland Rule 11-111(c). We granted certiorari in this case to answer the following questions:

1. Did the juvenile court err in entering an immediate order dismissing the CINA petitions without affording Petitioner an advance opportunity to file exceptions to the master's findings and recommendations?

2. Did the juvenile court deprive Petitioner of her right to due process of law by dismissing the CINA petitions without affording her an advance opportunity to file exceptions to the master's finding and recommendations?

3. Did the Court of Special Appeals err in applying its decision to Petitioner, who could not have known of the basis for that court's decision prior to appeal?

In re: Kaela C., 388 Md. 673, 882 A.2d 286 (2005). After the filing of briefs and oral argument, we issued an order requesting supplemental briefs and scheduling further proceedings on an additional issue:

What is the effect, if any, on the pending appeal before this Court of the judicial proceedings that have been instituted in the State of California?

We shall hold that the issues presented in Mrs. C.'s petition for a writ of certiorari are not moot because Mrs. C. continues to suffer collateral consequences from the circuit court's order transferring custody of the children to Mr. C. and that the circuit court erred in adopting the master's recommendations prior to the expiration of the five days for filing of exceptions provided by Maryland Rule 11-111(c).1

I. Background

Petitioner, Leslie C. (Mrs. C.), and Christopher C. (Mr. C.) are the biological parents of Kaela C., Gunner C., and Franklin C. Mr. and Mrs. C. were divorced in August, 2001, and Mrs. C. was awarded legal and physical custody of the children. On December 2, 2003, in response to allegations of abuse, the Frederick County Department of Social Services ("DSS") removed all three children from Mrs. C.'s care, placed them in emergency shelter care2 pursuant to its authority under Section 3-815(b) of the Courts and Judicial Proceedings Article,3 and subsequently

Page 918

filed a petition with the Circuit Court for Frederick County seeking continued shelter care pursuant to Section 3-815(c) of the Courts and Judicial Proceedings Article,4 and a determination that the children were children in need of assistance (CINA).5 Maryland Code (1973, 2002 Repl. Vol.), § 3-815(b) of the Courts and Judicial Proceedings Article. Both parents appeared before the circuit court, sitting as a juvenile court, for the shelter care hearing on December 8, 2003, and, while not admitting the allegations contained in the petition, agreed to the need for continued shelter care. Pursuant to Section 3-807(d)(3) of the Courts and Judicial Proceedings,6 the master recommended that the children be placed in licensed foster care pending an adjudicatory hearing,7 that Mr. C. be granted extended, unsupervised visitation, that Mrs. C. be granted supervised visitation, and that an updated family psychological evaluation be performed, and the trial judge immediately adopted those recommendations in the form of an order.

The master held an adjudicatory hearing on March 3, 2004, at which Mrs. C., Mr. C., and the DSS all appeared with counsel, in addition to counsel for the children. Because the court-ordered family assessment had not been completed, the DSS requested that the disposition hearing8 be postponed. Before addressing DSS's request, the master asked whether the parties had reached an agreement as to the facts alleged in the CINA petition:

COUNSEL FOR MRS. C.: Ah, we're not gonna contest the petition, Your Honor. We have some additional facts and information we want to proffer for the court by way of explanation. But

Page 919

we're not admitting or denying the allegations.

THE MASTER: Okay. And [Counsel for Mr. C.]?

COUNSEL FOR MR. C.: Your Honor, we are going to argue Courts and Judicial Proceedings 3-819(d), —

THE MASTER: Russell G.9

COUNSEL FOR MR. C.: Yeah. Exactly.

THE MASTER: And what about the allegations contained in the petition? What's mom's —

* * *

— I mean dad's position on that?

COUNSEL FOR MR. C.: There is only one paragraph that applies to my client. It's on, by, it's on page five and it's letter O and it basically says that my client cannot provide appropriate care for the three children due to his military obligations and frequent long absences and we don't agree with that. We think that my client is able and willing to provide care for the children.

* * *

THE MASTER: Okay. [Counsel for the Children]?

COUNSEL FOR THE CHILDREN: Thank you, Your Honor. That came as a surprise to me. If that's the case, Your Honor, I, I think dad should be available for cross examination if he, he's going to —

Acknowledging that there was confusion among the parties, the master called a recess and asked the parties into her office to clarify the position of each regarding the CINA allegations and thereafter, on the record, summarized the state of the proceedings:

THE MASTER: I believe in this matter, and counsel let me know if there's any disagreement, mother and father are proceeding by an Alford type plea where they neither admit nor deny the allegations contained in the petition. However, they agree that those allegations, those same allegations would be the allegations presented by the [DSS] at a full adjudicatory hearing and that the court would find those allegations to be true or sustained by a preponderance of the evidence and that they would support a finding that the children are children in need of . . . well, actually, we're not gonna go that far to the CINA, to the CINA part. Basically that the allegations would be true and thereafter that, that disposition would be continued for a time that will be further argued in open court. Is that your understanding, [Counsel for DSS]?

COUNSEL FOR DSS: Yes, Your Honor. That's what the [DSS] understood.

THE MASTER: And is that your understanding, [Counsel for Mrs. C.]?

COUNSEL FOR MRS. C.: Yes, Your Honor, and I just have a few facts I want to, some information I want to give the court.

THE MASTER: Okay. And is that your understanding, [Counsel for MR. C.]?

COUNSEL FOR MR. C.: Yes, Your Honor.

THE MASTER: And is that your understanding, [Counsel for the Children]? And actually, the children have agreed to stipulate to the —

COUNSEL FOR THE CHILDREN: That's correct —

THE MASTER: — allegations.

COUNSEL FOR THE CHILDREN: That's correct.

* * *

Page 920

THE MASTER: Okay. In, in this matter I will, in the, in the matter of the C. children I'll note for the record that the social worker, mother and father are present, as are [DSS]'s attorney, mom's attorney, dad's attorney, and the children's attorney. I will note that the [DSS] and the children stipulated to the allegations contained in the petition and agreed that they were sufficient to determine that the children are children in need of assistance. I also will note that mother and father neither admitted nor denied the allegations contained in the petition. However, they did agree that those same allegations would be the allegations presented by the [DSS] at a full adjudicatory hearing and, and that those allegations would be proven by a preponderance of the evidence and support a finding that the children are children in need of assistance. Thereafter, based on that I will find that the allegations contained in the petition are true and sustained.

The circuit court subsequently adopted the master's recommendations and issued an Order, within two days, finding that,

the child and the [DSS] stipulated to the allegations contained in the [DSS]'s Petition, and mother and father neither admitted nor denied the allegations contained in the Petition; however, they agreed that had there been a full adjudicatory hearing in this matter, those same allegations would have been the allegations presented by the [DSS], and those same allegations would have been proven by a preponderance of the evidence and otherwise support a finding that the children are Children in Need of Assistance, and . . . the Circuit Court for Frederick County, Maryland . . . finds that the following facts as alleged in the petition are true and are sufficient to find that the children need or require the court's intervention.

The court ordered the children to remain in licensed foster care and scheduled the disposition hearing for March 17, 2004.10

During the disposition hearing, Mr. C. requested, pursuant to Maryland Code (1973, 2002 Repl.Vol.), § 3-819(e) of the Courts and Judicial Proceedings Article,11 that the CINA petition be dismissed and that custody of the children be transferred to him. He argued that the CINA petition did not allege that he had ever abused or neglected the children, but that he had been unable to take care of the children because of his enlistment in the United States Navy. Mr. C. contended that the ship that he was stationed on, the U.S.S. Ronald Reagan, was currently berthed in Virginia, but was being transferred to San Diego, California, where he was in the process of purchasing a house, and that once his ship was transferred, he would apply for, and be granted, shore duty to enable him to properly care for the children. Mr. C....

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37 practice notes
  • Boulden v. State, No. 49, September Term, 2009 (Md. App. 5/14/2010), No. 49, September Term, 2009.
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • May 14, 2010
    ...931 A.2d 1098, 1102 (2007), King v. State, 400 Md. 419, 445, n. 10, 929 A.2d 169, 184, n. 10 (2007), In re Kaela C., 394 Md. 432, 471, 906 A.2d 915, 938 (2006); GMC v. Seay, 388 Md. 341, 344, 879 A.2d 1049, 1051 (2005), Johnson v. State, 355 Md. 420, 446, 735 A.2d 1003, 1017 (1999); Goins v......
  • Alston v. State, No. 109
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • June 26, 2013
    ...Md.Page 13278, 301, 965 A.2d 59 (2009); Cottman v. State, 395 Md. 729, 744, 912 A.2d 620, 628 (2006); In re Kaela C., 394 Md. 432, 452, 906 A.2d 915, 927 (2006); In re Karl, 394 Md. 402, 410, 906 A.2d 898, 902-03 (2006); GMC v. Seay, 388 Md. 341, 365, 879 A.2d 1049, 1063 (2005); Hammen v. B......
  • Cottman v. State, No. 1, September Term, 2006.
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • December 8, 2006
    ...of course." State v. Ficker, 266 Md. 500, 506-07, 295 A.2d 231, 235 (1972) (citations omitted); See also In re Kaela C., 394 Md. 432, 906 A.2d 915 (2006) (citations omitted). We consider a case moot "when there is no longer any existing controversy between the parties at the time that the c......
  • Alston v. State, No. 109
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Maryland
    • August 16, 2013
    ...N., 407 Md. 278, 301, 965 A.2d 59 (2009); Cottman v. State, 395 Md. 729, 744, 912 A.2d 620, 628 (2006); In re Kaela C., 394 Md. 432, 452, 906 A.2d 915, 927 (2006); In re Karl, 394 Md. 402, 410, 906 A.2d 898, 902–03 (2006); GMC v. Seay, 388 Md. 341, 365, 879 A.2d 1049, 1063 (2005); Hammen v.......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
37 cases
  • Boulden v. State, No. 49, September Term, 2009 (Md. App. 5/14/2010), No. 49, September Term, 2009.
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • May 14, 2010
    ...931 A.2d 1098, 1102 (2007), King v. State, 400 Md. 419, 445, n. 10, 929 A.2d 169, 184, n. 10 (2007), In re Kaela C., 394 Md. 432, 471, 906 A.2d 915, 938 (2006); GMC v. Seay, 388 Md. 341, 344, 879 A.2d 1049, 1051 (2005), Johnson v. State, 355 Md. 420, 446, 735 A.2d 1003, 1017 (1999); Goins v......
  • Alston v. State, No. 109
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • June 26, 2013
    ...Md.Page 13278, 301, 965 A.2d 59 (2009); Cottman v. State, 395 Md. 729, 744, 912 A.2d 620, 628 (2006); In re Kaela C., 394 Md. 432, 452, 906 A.2d 915, 927 (2006); In re Karl, 394 Md. 402, 410, 906 A.2d 898, 902-03 (2006); GMC v. Seay, 388 Md. 341, 365, 879 A.2d 1049, 1063 (2005); Hammen v. B......
  • Cottman v. State, No. 1, September Term, 2006.
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • December 8, 2006
    ...of course." State v. Ficker, 266 Md. 500, 506-07, 295 A.2d 231, 235 (1972) (citations omitted); See also In re Kaela C., 394 Md. 432, 906 A.2d 915 (2006) (citations omitted). We consider a case moot "when there is no longer any existing controversy between the parties at the time that the c......
  • Alston v. State, No. 109
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Maryland
    • August 16, 2013
    ...N., 407 Md. 278, 301, 965 A.2d 59 (2009); Cottman v. State, 395 Md. 729, 744, 912 A.2d 620, 628 (2006); In re Kaela C., 394 Md. 432, 452, 906 A.2d 915, 927 (2006); In re Karl, 394 Md. 402, 410, 906 A.2d 898, 902–03 (2006); GMC v. Seay, 388 Md. 341, 365, 879 A.2d 1049, 1063 (2005); Hammen v.......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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