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In re Tatiana C.

Court of Appeals of Illinois, First District, Third Division

December 18, 2013

In re TATIANA C., a Minor (The People of the State of Illinois, Petitioner-Appellee,
Samantha C., Respondent-Appellant).

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County No. 12JA700, Honorable Richard A. Stevens, Judge Presiding.

COUNSEL FOR APPELLANT Law Offices of Anthony M. Petrone, of Chicago, IL (Anthony M. Petrone)

COUNSEL FOR APPELLEE (Minor) Office of the Cook County Public Guardian. of Chicago, IL (Robert F. Harris, Kass A. Plain, Susan S. Wigoda)

COUNSEL FOR APPELLEE Anita Alvarez, State's Attorney of Cook County, of Chicago, IL (Alan J. Spellberg, Mary Needham, Nancy Kisicki, of counsel)

JUSTICE PUCINSKI delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Presiding Justice Hyman and Justice Mason concurred in the judgment and opinion.



1 Following an adjudication hearing under the Illinois Juvenile Court Act of 1987 (Act or Juvenile Court Act) (705 ILCS 405/1-1 et seq. (West 2010)), the circuit court found that Tatiana C. was a neglected minor. In the disposition hearing that followed, the court made Tatiana a ward of the court and entered an order of protective supervision, allowing Tatiana to remain in the care of her mother, respondent Samantha C. On appeal, Samantha contests the court's adjudication finding that her daughter was neglected, arguing that the finding is against the manifest weight of the evidence. For the reasons set forth herein, we affirm the judgment of the circuit court.


3 Tatiana C. was born on June 4, 2004. Samantha C. is her natural mother. Tatiana has two biological brothers, Ishtiel C. and Jahmial C. Neither of Samantha's other children was in her custody and care when the State filed a petition for adjudication of wardship on behalf of Tatiana on July 9, 2012. In the petition, the State alleged that Tatiana was "neglected" as that term is defined in the Act (705 ILCS 405/2-3 (West 2008)). Specifically, the State alleged that Tatiana was not receiving proper support, education, medical or remedial care necessary for her well-being (705 ILCS 405/2-3(1)(a) (West 2010)) and that she was being subjected to an environment that was injurious to her welfare (705 ILCS 405/2-3(1)(b) (West 2010)). The State further alleged that Tatiana was also an "abused" minor as that term as defined in the Act because she was at "substantial risk" for physical injury (705 ILCS 405/2-3(2)(ii) (West 2010)). In support of the allegations of abuse and neglect, the State stated as follows:

"Mother has two other children that were previously in [Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS)] care and custody with findings of abuse, neglect, physical abuse and excessive corporal punishment having been entered. Mother has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and has been prescribed multiple psychotropic medications. Mother has a history of psychiatric hospitalizations and drug/alcohol abuse. Mother has admitted to an incident when she blacked out to excessive drinking of alcohol; the minor was present. Mother stated that she had taken her psychotropic medication at the time of the incident. Mother has been observed to have bruises and other injuries about her face; mother admitted the bruising came from falling due to being drunk. Mother has been sporadically compliant with psychiatric follow-up. Minor has missed multiple days of school; mother states she is too tired due to her medications to take the minor to school. Intact services were offered to this family to stabilize the family unit; mother refused. Putative father is unknown. Paternity has not been established."[1]

4 The cause subsequently proceeded to an adjudication hearing.

5 At the hearing, Emily Lemke testified that she was a community support specialist at Thresholds, a mental health agency that provides support to individuals suffering from mental illness. In her capacity as a community support specialist, Lemke testified that she provides individuals with counseling, coaching, and case management to assist them with their recovery goals.

6 Lemke first met Samantha in February 2012, after a friend had referred her to Thresholds, and continued to work with her on an ongoing basis. During a telephone conversation on March 15, 2012, Samantha described herself as depressed. She classified her level of depression as "60%" and reported that she "had trouble helping Tatiana get up and get to school" because she struggled to get herself out of bed. Lemke acknowledged that she did not ask Samantha exactly what she meant when she described herself as "60% depressed." Lemke also did not ask how many days of school that Tatiana had missed as a result of Samantha's depression.

¶ 7 On April 4, 2012, Lemke visited Samantha at her home and observed scrapes and bruising on Samantha's face. Samantha explained that she had consumed alcohol and Xanax the night before while she was at her mother's house and had blacked out and fell against a brick wall. She also reported that she had gotten into "a physical altercation with some of the others that were there." Although Tatiana "was there, " at Samantha's mother's house, Samantha indicated that her daughter was sleeping at the time of the incident. Samantha claimed that the previous night was the first time that she had taken a Xanax and that she had never consumed alcohol ...

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