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In re D.S.

Court of Appeals of Illinois, Third District

February 14, 2018

In re D.S., a Minor
Daniel S., Respondent-Appellant. The People of the State of Illinois, Petitioner-Appellee,

         Appeal from the Circuit Court of the 10th Judicial Circuit, Peoria County, Illinois. Circuit No. 17-JA-49 Honorable Katherine S. Gorman Hubler, Judge, Presiding.

          JUSTICE SCHMIDT delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Presiding Justice Carter and Justice McDade concurred in the judgment and opinion.



         ¶ 1 After a dispositional hearing, respondent, Daniel S., appeals, arguing that it was against the manifest weight of the evidence for the court to take wardship of D.S. Respondent also alleges the court abused its discretion in naming the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) guardian. We affirm.

         ¶ 2 FACTS

         ¶ 3 Respondent is the father of D.S. On February 28, 2017, DCFS filed a petition alleging D.S. was a neglected minor in that her environment was injurious to her welfare. The petition stated that on December 14, 2016, D.S.'s mother, Chiquita J., had left D.S.'s siblings in the care of their 14-year-old sibling while she left the state. On December 15, 2016, DCFS contacted Chiquita, who stated that she would return on December 16, 2016. Chiquita did not return on that day and was uncooperative. A petition had previously been filed alleging that D.S.'s siblings were neglected, which did not name respondent and is not the subject of this appeal. The petition further included the criminal history of Chiquita and respondent. The petition listed respondent's criminal history as:

" '09 Battery; '09 Domestic Battery; '11 Illegal Possess/ Consume Liquor Public Way; '14 Domestic Battery; '14 Criminal Trespass to Land; '15 Resisting Police; '17 Criminal Trespass to Land; '17 Illegal Possess/ Consume Liquor Public Way; and is pending '17 Theft (Felony) (2 Counts); and '17 Financial Transaction and Fraud-Use Forged and Possession of Burglary or Theft Tools."

         The petition further proposed that an order of protection be entered, which would read:

"Minor to reside with father, [respondent], and all contact between minor and mother shall be supervised by agency. Mother shall not enter the minor's home. Father shall use no illegal substances or alcohol. Father shall submit to random drop testing or [B]reathalyzer at least two (2) times per month which DCFS shall set up and inform State's Attorney's Office of all missed and positive drops. All caretakers shall have prior DCFS approval."

         ¶ 4 On March 6, 2017, the respondent was served in court and presented a voluntary acknowledgement of paternity. The court granted the order of protection contained in the petition. Respondent filed an answer to the petition on March 15, 2017, stating that he lacked sufficient knowledge regarding the allegations of the petition, but did not demand strict proof.

         ¶ 5 An adjudicatory hearing was held on March 29, 2017. The State presented a detailed proffer regarding the allegations in the petition, including respondent's criminal history, stating that the pending 2017 felony theft was now a conviction for misdemeanor theft. Respondent only disputed the 2017 charge for financial transaction and fraud-use forged and possession of burglary or theft tools that was pending in Minnesota, stating that he did not believe that was him. The court found the petition proven by a preponderance of the evidence, except for the pending Minnesota charge against respondent. The court further found that respondent did not contribute to the injurious environment.

         ¶ 6 On April 19, 2017, the court held a dispositional hearing. Respondent testified that, other than the 2017 conviction for illegal possession and consumption of liquor on a public way, he had not recently abused alcohol or illegal substances.

         ¶ 7 The dispositional report stated that D.S. was born on February 22, 2017, and lived with respondent in an apartment along with respondent's brother. Respondent was unemployed and cared for D.S. full time, took D.S. to all her appointments, and cooperated with the caseworker regarding the assessment and visitation. Respondent's mother helped babysit if necessary. The report stated that Chiquita "reported that she and [respondent] have a good relationship. She plans to continue the relationship, but stressed they do not live together. She expressed concern regarding the current DCFS involvement and stated that they will not live together so, if necessary, he can retain custody of [D.S.] at birth." However, respondent stated "that he and [Chiquita] are 'ok', but he does not talk to her except for a little bit at court and visits when he is dropping [D.S.] off."

         ¶ 8 A police report showed that respondent and Chiquita were arrested together on January 25, 2017, for credit card fraud and possession of stolen property. They told the ...

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