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July 20, 1994


Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County, Honorable Gary L. Brownfield, Judge Presiding.

Cerda, Tully, Greiman

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Cerda

JUSTICE CERDA delivered the opinion of the court:

Following an adjudicatory hearing, the trial court found that there was no probable cause to believe that the minor, Ashley F., had been neglected. The court entered a directed verdict in favor of Ashley F.'s mother, Diana F., and dismissed the petition for the adjudication of wardship.

The Office of the Public Guardian filed this appeal on behalf of Ashley F. The guardian ad litem asserts that (1) the trial court's directed verdict and finding were against the manifest weight of the evidence; (2) the trial court's directed verdict and dismissal of the petition were contrary to Ashley F.'s best interests; and (3) the trial court abused its discretion in denying Ashley F.'s motion to reconsider. Based on the following reasons, we affirm the circuit court's judgment.

On September 11, 1992, the trial court held a temporary custody hearing pursuant to a petition for adjudication of wardship for Ashley F., who was born on June 28, 1992. The petition alleged that Ashley F. was neglected "in that [her] environment is injurious to * * * her welfare in violation of Illinois Revised Statutes (1989), Chapter 37, paragraph 802-3(1)(b)." The trial court appointed the Cook County Public Guardian as guardian ad litem and attorney for Ashley F.

The only testimony came from Sherry Gross, an investigator with the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS). Gross testified that she was assigned to Ashley F.'s case on September 1, 1992, after receiving information that the infant had suffered a fractured skull on August 31, 1992.

Gross went to Rush Northshore Hospital in Skokie where she spoke with Dr. Jeffery Skinner, the hospital's emergency room physician. Dr. Skinner, who had treated Ashley F., told Gross that Ashley F. suffered two fractures on the left side of her skull when she rolled off a bed and hit a carpeted floor. After Gross asked whether a two-month-old infant can have two fractures by hitting her head in such a manner, Dr. Skinner told her that it can happen even though it is highly unlikely. Dr. Skinner also told Gross that most two-month-old infants cannot lie on their sides, but that it is possible.

Gross also spoke to Dr. Galon, who was the family's private physician. Dr. Galon told Gross that two fractures was highly suspicious and that it was unlikely that a two-month-old would roll, but it was possible. Nevertheless, Dr. Galon did not think that Ashley F. was abused because "it was not in the mother's personality." Because Diana F. was a very good mother who was very concerned about her child, Dr. Galon believed that Ashley F.'s injury was an accident.

A report from Dr. Galon was read to the court. It stated:

"The incident that resulted in injury to Ashley on October 31, 1992 [sic] was an accident. I do not believe that Diane F is in any way neglectful or abusive."

Gross also spoke with Dr. Goldstein, who was Dr. Galon's partner. Dr. Goldstein had seen Ashley F. on the morning of September 1, 1992, at the hospital. According to Dr. Goldstein, it was possible but unlikely that a two-month-old infant could roll off a bed. He explained that when a child that age does roll, they usually have exceptional muscle tone, which Ashley F. did not have.

Diana F. told Gross that she was in the room when her daughter was injured. She had put Ashley F. on a twin bed in order to change her diaper. The infant was lying on her left side with a gown propped up behind her. She was about a foot from the edge of the bed. When Diana F. turned away to get a diaper, she heard the baby cry. She turned and saw Ashley F. lying on her back on the floor. Gross hypothesized that the infant would have had to roll forward to fall off the bed.

Gross testified that she saw Diana F. have two angry outbursts when she was told that Gross was going to court to get a protective order. In addition, Gross said that Diana F. was not willing to take advantage of parenting classes and homemaker services even though she had initially been very cooperative. Diana F. was concerned because she was going through a ...

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