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 AL.P

Court of Appeals of Illinois, Fourth District

November 1, 2017

In re AL. P., AN. P., AS. M., and ST. J., Minors The People of the State of Illinois, Petitioner-Appellee,
v.
Angel P., Respondent-Appellant.

         Appeal from Circuit Court of McLean County No. 16JA7 Honorable Kevin P. Fitzgerald, Judge Presiding.

          JUSTICE STEIGMANN delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices Knecht and Holder White concurred in the judgment and opinion.

          OPINION

          STEIGMANN JUSTICE

         ¶ 1 In February 2016, the State filed a petition for adjudication of wardship, alleging that respondent's minor children, St. J. (born April 28, 2003), As. M. (born April 15, 2008), An. P. (born November 25, 2013), and Al. P. (born April 7, 2015) were neglected minors under section 2-3(1)(b) of the Juvenile Court Act of 1987 (Juvenile Court Act) (705 ILCS 405/2-3(1)(b) (West 2016)). In March 2016, the trial court adjudicated all four children neglected.

         ¶ 2 In December 2016, the State filed a petition to terminate respondent's parental rights to all four children. In February 2017, at the fitness portion of the termination hearing, respondent stipulated that she was an unfit parent.

         ¶ 3 In May 2017, at the best interest portion of the termination hearing, the parties presented evidence and rested their cases, and the trial court then asked to hear additional evidence from St. J.'s therapist about whether St. J. wanted to be adopted by his foster family. After so requesting, the trial court continued the best interest hearing. When that hearing resumed, the guardian ad litem (GAL) presented testimony from the therapist, and the court found that it was in St. J.'s best interest to terminate respondent's parental rights.

         ¶ 4 Respondent appeals from the judgment terminating her parental rights only as to St. J., arguing that (1) the trial court violated respondent's right to due process by requesting additional evidence at the best interest hearing after the parties had rested their respective cases and (2) the court's decision to terminate respondent's parental rights to St. J. was against the manifest weight of the evidence. We disagree and affirm.

         ¶ 5 I. BACKGROUND

         ¶ 6 A. Proceedings on the Neglect Petition

         ¶ 7 In February 2016, the State filed a petition for adjudication of wardship, alleging that respondent's four minor children were neglected minors under section 2-3(1)(b) of the Juvenile Court Act (705 ILCS 405/2-3(1)(b) (West 2016)). Those four children were St. J., As. M., An. P., and Al. P. Specifically, the State alleged that the minors were living in an environment injurious to their welfare because respondent and the minors' respective fathers had unresolved issues of domestic violence, anger management, and alcohol or substance abuse.

         ¶ 8 After a February 2016 shelter care hearing, the trial court placed the children in the temporary guardianship of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS). In March 2016, the court conducted an adjudicatory hearing and found all four minors neglected because of respondent's unresolved issues of "alcohol and/or substance abuse." After a June 2016 dispositional hearing, the court adjudicated all four minors wards of the court and placed them in the guardianship of DCFS with authority to place them.

         ¶ 9 B. Proceedings on the Petition To Terminate Parental Rights

         ¶ 10 In December 2016, the State filed a petition to terminate respondent's parental rights as to all four minors.

         ¶ 111. The February 2017 Fitness Portion of the Termination Hearing

         ¶ 12 At the February 2017 fitness portion of the termination hearing, respondent stipulated that she was unfit for failing to make reasonable progress toward the return of her children during the nine-month period from March 22, 2016, to December 22, 2016. The State presented a factual basis, which included an allegation that police responded to incidents involving respondent in June 2016 and December 2016.

         ¶ 13 The trial court accepted the stipulation and found respondent unfit.

         ¶ 14 2. The Best Interest Portion of the Termination Hearing

         ¶ 15 In May 2017, the trial court began the best interest portion of the termination hearing. The court stated that in addition to testimony, the court would consider various reports that had been presented to the court in earlier proceedings, such as police incident summary reports, and the court would also consider a permanency review report and a best interest report.

         ¶ 16 a. The Best-Interest Report

         ¶ 17 The May 2017 best interest report prepared by the court-appointed special advocate (CASA) stated that in June 2016, St. J. was placed with his father, Stephen J., in Texas. Stephen J. later requested that St. J. return to Illinois. In December 2016, St. J. was placed in a foster home in Illinois. St. J. maintained occasional phone contact with Stephen J.

         ¶ 18 Regarding respondent's service plan, she had failed to do the following: maintain continuous employment, obtain independent housing, avoid domestic violence situations, and maintain sobriety. The best interest report indicated that St. J. felt secure and valued in his foster placement and had formed an attachment with his foster father. St. J. reported feeling at home with his foster family. CASA recommended that it was in St. J.'s best interest to terminate respondent's parental rights.

         ¶ 19 b. Other Evidence

         ¶ 20 Bloomington police officer Benjamin Smith testified that on March 27, 2017, he responded to a report of domestic violence involving respondent and Frederick Childs. When Smith arrived, he could tell that respondent was intoxicated. Respondent told Smith she had consumed some beer and seven shots of vodka. Respondent was living with Childs for a few days and described her relationship with him as "on and off." Childs became upset when respondent received a phone call from an ex-boyfriend. She and Childs began arguing, and Childs punched her twice in the face. Smith arrested respondent after she admitted throwing rocks to break two windows of Childs's apartment.

         ¶ 21 Todd Smith testified that he was a mental health counselor who provided domestic violence, as well as general, counseling to respondent beginning in June 2016. He performed a domestic violence assessment and determined that respondent required domestic violence treatment. Respondent completed that treatment in January 2017. Respondent told Todd Smith that she was trying to stop drinking alcohol but relapsed in July 2016, October 2016, and March 2017.

         ¶ 22 Todd Smith testified further that respondent told him about an incident of domestic violence that occurred between Childs and respondent in March 2017. Todd Smith testified that by throwing rocks through Childs's windows, respondent had ...


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.