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In re D.J.S.

October 29, 1999

IN THE INTEREST OF D.J.S., A MINOR
THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PETITIONER-APPELLEE,
V.
WILLIAM J. S., RESPONDENT-APPELLANT



Appeal from the Circuit Court of the 13th Judicial Circuit, Bureau County, Illinois No. 93-J-62 Honorable Scott Madson Judge, Presiding

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Homer

A.D., 1999

The respondent, William J. S., appeals from the judgment of the trial court terminating his parental rights to the minor, D.J.S. On appeal, William contends that the trial court failed to obtain in personam jurisdiction over him at the time of the initial adjudication of D.J.S. as an abused and neglected minor because no summons was issued and served upon him at that time. William further argues that the trial court's finding of unfitness was against the manifest weight of the evidence and its decision to terminate his parental rights was an abuse of discretion. We affirm.

FACTS

D.J.S. was born on December 17, 1992. On July 16, 1993, the State filed a petition for adjudication of wardship, alleging that William had physically abused D.J.S.'s mother. This abuse had occurred while the mother was holding D.J.S., and D.J.S. had been struck by William during the encounter. William also allegedly tossed D.J.S. to his mother during an argument. The petition further alleged that D.J.S. was neglected because his mother left him in the care of William.

A hearing on the temporary custody of D.J.S. was held on the day the petition for adjudication of wardship was filed. According to the order entered that day, William appeared at the hearing. The Judge granted temporary custody of D.J.S. to the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (the Department). Thereafter, summonses were issued and served upon D.J.S. and his mother.

The initial case review was held in August 1993. William attended the review along with D.J.S.'s mother. The Department's service plan called for William to submit to an alcohol evaluation and a psychiatric evaluation. He was further required to attend parenting classes and domestic violence counseling.

William visited with D.J.S. three times in September 1993.

An adjudicatory hearing was held November 22, 1993. The record indicates that D.J.S.'s mother was present but William was not. At that time, D.J.S. was adjudicated an abused and neglected minor. A Dispositional order entered the same day awarded custody and guardianship of D.J.S. to the Department.

William visited with D.J.S. three times during December 1993, and three times in January 1994. He also visited twice in February 1994 and attended the case review meeting at the end of that month. At that time, William had not met any of the requirements of the Department's service plan.

William did not attend the case review meeting held in July 1994. In August 1994, D.J.S.'s mother surrendered her parental rights. William had no contact with the Department until November 1994 when he telephoned to arrange a visit. That visit occurred in December 1994. However, William failed to attend a visit scheduled for the following week. He did not attend the case review meeting held in January 1995.

The next case review meeting was scheduled for July 1995. William's sister informed the Department before the meeting that William would not attend because he was incarcerated.

William was confined to the Bureau County jail from June 1995 to December 1995. He was in the custody of the Illinois Department of Corrections from February 1996 to June 1998. During this time, William did not contact the Department. He did not send any cards or letters to be forwarded to D.J.S. Shortly after his release from the Department of Corrections, William was reincarcerated on a parole violation.

In February 1997, the State filed a petition to terminate William's parental rights. In its petition, the State argued, inter alia, that William had failed to make reasonable efforts to correct the conditions which led to the removal of D.J.S. and had further failed to make reasonable progress toward the return of D.J.S. At that time, William was served with a summons, and an attorney was appointed to represent him. William's attorney objected to any proceedings on the petition to terminate parental rights without an adjudication that D.J.S. was an abused or neglected minor ...


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