J. L. L., In Interest of, 8499

CourtCourt of Appeal of Missouri (US)
Citation402 S.W.2d 629
Docket NumberNo. 8499,8499
PartiesIn the Interest of J.L.L., a child under 17 years of age.
Decision Date18 April 1966

Page 629

402 S.W.2d 629
In the Interest of J.L.L., a child under 17 years of age.
No. 8499.
Springfield Court of Appeals, Missouri.
April 18, 1966.

Page 631

Dorothy F. Roberts, Lamar, Frieze & Crandall, Arkley W. Frieze, Carthage, for appellants, the adoptive parents.

Gordon R. Boyer, Pros. Atty., Lamar, for the State.

STONE, Presiding Judge.

In this statutory proceeding under our Juvenile Act (Sections 211.01 to 211.431), the adoptive parents of J_ _ L_ _ L_ _, a girl six years of age, appeal from the judgment of the juvenile court entered on June 28, 1965, which found that the girl was a neglected child 'in need of care and treatment' (Section 211.031) and committed her to the care and custody of the division of welfare under the continuing supervision of the juvenile court. Section 207.020(17). (All statutory references are to RSMo 1959, V.A.M.S., and all references to rules are to the Rules of Civil Procedure, V.A.M.R.) The petition filed by the juvenile officer in the juvenile court (Section 211.091) specifically charged physical abuse of the girl, and the evidence at the hearing was directed toward that charge. No complaint is made concerning the form, substance or sufficiency of the petition, but the principal contention of the adoptive parents is that the evidence was 'wholly insufficient' to permit the court's finding that the girl was a neglected child. Before discussing the event which precipitated the institution of the neglect proceeding, it may be helpful to note certain background information.

The adoptive mother, forty-four years of age at the time of hearing, is the natural maternal grandmother (hereinafter referred to as the grandmother) of the girl. The record leaves us in doubt concerning the here unimportant detail as to whether the adoptive father, whose age is not given, is the natural grandfather or the stepgrandfather. The only revealed fact pertaining to the girl's early years was contained in the grandmother's statement that 'I've had her practically since birth,' inferentially for undisclosed reasons arising out of the natural mother's 'past'--a subject which the court charitably curtained from view when the natural mother made a fleeting appearance on the witness stand. However, the feeling of the grandmother toward the natural mother was made manifest at the hearing (a) by the natural mother's undisputed statement that 'my mother had wrote and told me that I wasn't welcome there at the house to see my little girl; she told me that before I left the last time' and (b) by the grandmother's query to the court, when informed of his finding at the close of the hearing, 'you ain't going to turn her (the girl) back over to the mother?'

The grandparents obtained their decree of adoption and thus became the adoptive parents of the girl in 1964, only 'a few months' prior to the neglect proceeding. The attorney, who was guardian ad litem for the girl in the adoption proceeding, was called as a witness in the neglect proceeding. When asked about his investigation and recommendation in the adoption proceeding, he stated that, even though the grandmother had been 'quite strict with the child,' he had been of the opinion that she was not mean or abusive and that, 'since it was the only home that the child had ever known,' he had recommended that adoption be decreed. He observed that 'perhaps from the health standpoint it was not too good because of (the grandfather's) condition,' which, although not developed in evidence, was such that the grandfather was in a state sanitarium at the time of the occurrence giving rise to the neglect proceeding. However, we record parenthetically that he was home when the proceeding was instituted on June 21, 1965, was served with summons on that date, and was represented by counsel at the hearing on June 28. That the possibility of obtaining additional financial aid may have been one of the considerations motivating the grandparents' petition for adoption of the girl is suggested by the grandmother's inquiry, after being informed of the court's decision in the neglect proceeding, 'will they have to take the disability social security

Page 632

and return it back to the social security office?'

About 6:40 A.M. on Tuesday, June 15, 1965, witness Lucille T_ _, who lived in the second house from the grandparents' home, heard the grandmother 'beating the child' and 'the little girl crying.' The witness said that it continued until about 7:15 to 7:20 A.M. when the girl 'commenced crying 'Mama"--'those cries of 'Mama' would just make your blood run cold'--'you could tell from the voice that the child was just desperate.' The grandmother 'was in a rage'--' not going to have this in my house.' Since she did not see the beating, the witness did not know what the grandmother was using; but the witness insisted that whatever was in use was striking 'flesh.' As the witness put it, after 'I took over thirty minutes of it . . . I called (the county welfare director) to get some help.'

At the request of the welfare director, peace officers went to the grandmother's home and asked her to take the girl to the director's office, which she did. The welfare director had known the girl 'for a long time'--'she is a very attractive, weak child.' Observing the stripes and bruises on the girl's arms and legs and a deep cut and bruise on her left temple, the welfare director told the grandmother 'that we wanted to take the little girl to a doctor.' There was no formal request for the grandmother's permission and, on the other hand, the grandmother voiced no objection to the proposed examination. Whereupon, the girl was taken to the office of a medical doctor, who examined and treated her and arranged for twelve black-and-white photographs of the girl to be made while she was still in his office.

Upon hearing, the doctor testified that the girl had 'numerous traumatic injuries to her skin and to her soft tissue,' including many bruises and contusions, some of which were 'actually superficial lacerations,' on her head, neck, thorax, buttocks, thighs and legs, and a 'laceration area with acute swelling and bruising' on the left forehead and temple. Some of the girl's injuries were fresh while, in the doctor's opinion, the duration of other injuries ranged from twenty-four hours to two weeks. The bruises, contusions and lacerations were so numerous that, when the court invited the...

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19 cases
  • White v. Smith, 8833
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • April 16, 1969
    ...Mo. 425, 432, 31 S.W.2d 1010, 1012(4), certiorari denied 283 U.S. 820, 51 S.Ct. 345, 75 L.Ed. 1435; In the Interest of J.L.L., Mo.App., 402 S.W.2d 629, 633--634(1); Fellows v. Farmer, Mo.App., 379 S.W.2d 842, 9 Caldwell v. Travelers' Ins. Co., 305 Mo. (banc) 619, 660, 267 S.W. 907, 921, 39 ......
  • Frederick v. Frederick, 9024
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • January 14, 1971
    ...v. Manley, Mo.App., 435 S.W.2d 420, 428, and cases cited in note 10; White v. Smith, Mo.App., 440 S.W.2d 497, 506; In re J.L.L., Mo.App., 402 S.W.2d 629, 633--634(1); Fellows v. Farmer, Mo.App., 379 S.W.2d 842, 846(2). With respect to those matters concerning which the testimony fo the part......
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    • United States
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    • September 13, 1967
    ...St. Louis Merchants' Bridge Terminal Ry. Co. v. Doyle, 283 U.S. 820, 51 S.Ct. 345, 75 L.Ed. 1435; In the Interest of J.L.L., Mo.App., 402 S.W.2d 629, 633--634(1); Fellows v. Farmer, Mo.App., 379 S.W.2d 842, Viewing the record as a whole in the light most favorable to plaintiff and according......
  • Sanderson v. Richardson, 8744
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • October 4, 1968
    ...without objection or motion to strike (Steeley v. Kurn, 348 Mo. 1142, 1144, 157 S.W.2d 212, 213(3); In the Interest of J.L.L., Mo.App., 402 S.W.2d 629, 633--634(1); Lomax v. Sawtell, Mo.App., 286 S.W.2d 40, 42(1)), its probative worth and value were for the circuit court as the trier of the......
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