Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

In re Jordan V.

April 22, 2004

[5] IN RE: JORDAN V., A MINOR, THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PETITIONER-APPELLEE, V. (4-03-0828) EDWARD VELEZ, RESPONDENT-APPELLANT.
IN RE: DUSTIN B., BROOKE H., AND JORDAN V., MINORS, THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PETITIONER-APPELLEE, V. (4-03-0829) LORA VELEZ, RESPONDENT-APPELLANT.



[6] Appeal from Circuit Court of Champaign County No. 96JA78 Honorable Ann A. Einhorn, Judge Presiding.

[7] The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Steigmann

[8]  In October 2002, the State filed its third supplemental petition, seeking to terminate the parental rights of respondents, Edward and Lora Velez, as to their children, Dustin B. (born November 25, 1993), Brooke H. (born January 22, 1995), and Jordan V. (born November 2, 1997). Following January and February 2003 hearings, the trial court found respondents unfit. After an April 2003 hearing, the court found it was in the children's best interest that respondents' parental rights be terminated.

[9]  Lora and Edward appealed separately, but this court consolidated their appeals. In No. 4-03-0828, Edward argues only that the trial court erred by changing the permanency goal in May 1999 to substitute care pending court determination on termination of parental rights. In No. 4-03-0829, Lora argues that (1) the court's unfitness finding was against the manifest weight of the evidence; and (2) the court erred by changing the permanency goal in October 2002 to substitute care pending court determination on termination of parental rights. We affirm.

[10]   I. BACKGROUND

[11]   In September 1996, the State filed a petition alleging that Dustin B. and Brooke H. were neglected minors in that Lora provided inadequate supervision, thus creating an environment injurious to their welfare. 705 ILCS 405/2-3(1)(b) (West 1996).

[12]   In October 1996, Lora and Jason Hartman, Dustin B. and Brooke H.'s biological father, stipulated to the State's neglect allegation, and the trial court adjudicated Dustin B. and Brooke H. neglected. Following a November 1996 dispositional hearing, the trial court made them wards of the court and appointed the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) as their guardian. In May 1997, Hartman surrendered his parental rights as to Dustin B. and Brooke H.

[13]   In February 1998, the State took Jordan V. into protective custody and filed a petition, alleging that Jordan V. was (1) neglected in that Lora and Edward (a) exposed him to the risk of physical injury (count I) and (b) had "failed to correct the conditions which resulted in a prior adjudication of parental unfitness" (count III) (705 ILCS 405/2-3(1)(b) (West Supp. 1997)); and (2) abused in that Lora and Edward created a substantial risk of physical injury to Jordan V. by other than accidental means, which would likely cause impairment of Jordan V.'s emotional health or bodily functions or both (count II) (705 ILCS 405/ 2-3(2)(ii) (West Supp. 1997)).

[14]   Following a May 1998 hearing, the trial court adjudicated Jordan V. an abused and neglected minor. After a June 1998 dispositional hearing, the court adjudicated Jordan V. a ward of the court and placed him in the custody and guardianship of DCFS. Lora appealed, and this court affirmed. In re J.V., 4-98-0454 (November 3, 1998) (unpublished order under Supreme Court Rule 23).

[15]   In May 1999, the State filed a supplemental petition to terminate Lora and Edward's parental rights, alleging that they had failed to make reasonable progress toward the children's return within nine months of the adjudication of neglect (750 ILCS 50/1(D)(m) (West 1998)). The trial court conducted a hearing on the State's termination petition on eight separate dates spanning seven months. On March 1, 2000, the court entered an order finding Lora and Edward unfit based on the grounds alleged.

[16]   Following a best-interest hearing in March and September 2000, the trial court (1) vacated its March 1, 2000, unfitness findings and (2) continued the case for an adjudicatory hearing on parental fitness. In December 2000, the court ordered the State to file a second supplemental termination petition, alleging that Lora and Edward had failed to make reasonable efforts to correct the conditions that were the basis for the children's removal (750 ILCS 50/1(D)(m) (West 2000)). The court then recused itself and reassigned the case.

[17]   In January 2001, the State filed its second supplemental petition, seeking to terminate Lora and Edward's parental rights, alleging, in pertinent part, that they failed to make reasonable efforts to correct the conditions that were the basis for the children's removal. In February 2001, the trial court conducted a permanency-review hearing and set a permanency goal of "substitute care pending court determination on termination of parental rights because a motion for termination of parental rights is pending." Edward appealed the February 2001 permanency order, and this court dismissed his appeal for lack of jurisdiction. In re J.V., 4-01-0166 (July 26, 2001) (unpublished order under Supreme Court Rule 23). In March 2001, Lora and Edward filed motions to dismiss the State's second supplemental termination petition, and in June 2001, the court denied those motions. However, in July 2001, the court dismissed the State's May 1999 and January 2001 termination petitions.

[18]   In October 2002, the State filed its third supplemental petition, seeking to terminate Lora and Edward's parental rights, alleging that they had failed to make reasonable progress toward the return of the children within any nine-month period after the end of the initial nine-month period following the neglect and abuse adjudications (750 ILCS 50/1(D)(m)(iii) (West 2000)). The petition specified the nine-month period as being from January 11, 2002, to October 10, 2002.

[19]   In January and February 2003, the trial court conducted a hearing on the State's third supplemental termination petition. We review the evidence presented at that hearing only to the extent necessary to put the parties' arguments in context.

[20]   Lutheran Social Services caseworker Christina Smith testified that she took over Lora and Edward's case in February 2002. At that time, Lora and Edward were participating in individual and couples counseling with Mary Martin. DCFS specified no other services that it wanted them to engage in at that time.

[21]   In February 2002, Smith met with Edward for a previously scheduled visit at his and Lora's home. Lora was scheduled to attend the visit, but she was not there. When Smith asked Edward about missed counseling sessions, he provided a few reasons for missing sessions, "one being transportation and another being basically time and there [were] just a few times that he possibly forgot." She also asked him about the presence of unauthorized persons during visits with the children. He responded that one of those people was a friend and "maybe the other two lived across the street from them." Edward did not respond to Smith's questions about his relationship with Lora. On financial matters, Edward told Smith that he and Lora were behind on the power bill and owed the power company approximately $430. He also said that creditors were calling.

[22]   At the end of February or in early March 2002, the decision was made to discontinue Lora and Edward's unsupervised visits with the children (they had been having three per week). That decision was based on several concerns that arose after Smith's February 2002 visit with Edward. Specifically, Smith was concerned about the following: (1) Lora had not been home the night before the visit, and Edward did not know where she was; (2) unauthorized people were attending the children's visits; (3) financial matters; and (4) missed counseling sessions. Smith opined that Lora and Edward's financial matters were relevant because of the need to maintain a stable household for the children's safety and security.

[23]   On March 4, 2002, Smith met with Edward's counselor and the children's counselor to discuss the case. It was decided that if Edward and Lora attended four consecutive couples' counseling sessions, Lutheran Social Services would reinstate an unsupervised weekly visit. Smith informed Lora and Edward of this decision by telephone and letter.

[24]   On March 13, 2002, Smith met with Lora and Edward and discussed the aforementioned areas of concern. Lora explained that on the night she was not at home, she was at a friend's house doing laundry, and Edward could have reached her on her cellular phone. Lora said her friend's name was Phillip, but she did not know his last name. She also said that she spends the night at someone else's house about five times per month. Lora also stated that she and Edward were not a couple. When Smith asked Edward about the relationship, Edward did not answer her. Smith explained that Lutheran Social Services works with parents that are separated or together; however, they need to know the status of the couple's relationship to provide appropriate services. After this meeting, it was Smith's understanding that Lora and Edward were not a couple. Lora and Edward also told Smith that they had missed counseling sessions due to car problems. Lutheran Social Services also then began transporting the children to their counseling sessions so as to ease the burden on Lora and Edward. (At this time, Lora and Edward lived in Champaign with their infant daughter, Briana; and Dustin B., Brooke H., and Jordan V. lived with foster parents in Loda.)

[25]   Smith met with Lora and Edward again on April 4, 2002. They told her that the outstanding power bill was still about $400. They also had to make new car payments totaling approximately $990 over the next six weeks, and thereafter would have a $175 car payment every two weeks. They said that the car payment would not be a problem. Lora also said that they were looking for a second car so that she would have another car to drive if she became bored with the new one. Edward did not have a valid driver's license at the time. They did not attend counseling that week because they forgot.

[26]   On May 15, 2002, Smith attempted to telephone Lora and Edward and learned that their home telephone had been disconnected. She later reached them on a cellular phone and met with them on May 17, 2002. Edward was working at Famous Dave's restaurant. Lora told Smith that she and Edward were separated. When Smith asked Edward where he was living, he said that he lived "here, there[,] and everywhere." He also told Smith that correspondence could still be sent to him at their home address where he sometimes stayed. Lora said that she was applying for work. At that time, they had two ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.