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In re O.J.B.

Court of Appeals of Missouri, Western District, First Division

July 22, 2014

IN THE INTEREST OF: O.J.B., RESPONDENT,
v.
E.B. AND T.B., APPELLANTS JUVENILE OFFICER, RESPONDENT,

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Jackson County, Missouri. The Honorable Justine Elisa Muro, Judge.

Emily Beth Null, Attorney and Guardian.

Appellants Acting Pro se.

Before Division One: Joseph M. Ellis PJ., Karen King Mitchell, Anthony Rex Gabbert, JJ. All concur.

OPINION

Anthony Rex Gabbert, Judge.

Page 727

E.B. and T.B. (Parents) appeal pro se the circuit court's judgment denying a " Motion For Dismissal" filed by E.B. (Father) on July 23, 2013. Parents assert four points on appeal. First, they contend that the circuit court erred in denying the motion to dismiss because the court failed to review or acknowledge evidence that demonstrated the Juvenile Officer and a Juvenile Officer witness knowingly withheld exculpatory evidence, thereby violating their rights to due process. Second, Parents contend that the court erred in denying the motion to dismiss because the court refused to hear, review, or acknowledge evidence that the Juvenile Officer and a Juvenile Officer witness coerced a stipulation, thereby violating Parents' rights to due process. Third, Parents assert that the court erred in denying the motion to dismiss because the court failed to review or acknowledge evidence that the Juvenile Officer knowingly used false and misleading information to bias the court, thereby denying Parents the right to a fair trial and procedural due process. Finally, Parents contend that the court erred in denying the motion because the court refused to hear, review, or acknowledge that the Juvenile Officer lacked standing to bring the case because the evidence used to bring the case was manufactured, fabricated, misrepresented, and engineered to be destructive to Parents, thereby violating their rights to due process. We affirm the circuit court's judgment.

Page 728

On October 26, 2011, the Juvenile Officer filed a petition alleging O.J.B. to be without proper care, custody, or support and subject to the jurisdiction of the court pursuant to Section 211.031.1, RSMo Cum. Supp. 2005. The petition alleged that Parents neglected O.J.B. The petition alleged that O.J.B. had significant developmental delays and a seizure disorder and, at seven years of age, was non-verbal, unable to walk, and required twenty-four hour care. The petition alleged that, after Parents voluntarily placed O.J.B. in a Department of Mental Health (DMH) residential facility in May of 2011, the parents repeatedly inhibited facility staff from providing the child with necessary and appropriate medical treatment. The petition alleged that, O.J.B. required follow-up with a neurologist in July of 2011 but, as of October 26, 2011, it had not been received. The petition alleged that the parents refused to give consent for the child's treatment at Children's Mercy Hospital, the only local hospital with the ability to adequately treat the child's special medical needs and that accepted the child's insurance. The petition alleged that Parents failed or refused to regularly visit the child, call to inquire into the child's well-being, or take part in his care and treatment. The petition alleged that Parents had visited the child only twice since his placement at the DMH facility and that the child was at risk of further harm or neglect absent court intervention.

Each parent was appointed separate counsel and Parents and counsel appeared at a case management conference on November 16, 2011. The record reflects that, on December 19, 2011, counsel for each parent filed motions to withdraw. On that same date, Father filed a Motion to Dismiss the pending juvenile matters. On December 20, 2011, the court held an adjudication hearing. At that hearing, Mother's attorney withdrew her motion to withdraw and the court denied Father's attorney's motion. The court stated in its Order Upon Adjudication Hearing that both parents stipulated to the allegations in the Juvenile Officer's petition and further stated: " Testimony being heard and other evidence received by the Court, the Court finds that the evidence adduced sustains the allegations in Count 1 by clear, cogent and convincing evidence." A dispositional hearing was held on January 20, 2012, where each parent was represented by new counsel. The court entered Findings and Recommendations on that date and a final judgment was entered.

On May 2, 2012, the court held a case review hearing where parents appeared represented by their respective counsel. Findings and Recommendations were entered and subsequently adopted as a final judgment. Thereafter, on July 27, 2012, October 17, 2012, January 23, 2013, and July 29, 2013, additional review/permanency planning hearings were held where the parents were either represented by counsel or represented themselves pro se. Final judgments were entered after each of those hearings. Just prior to the July 29, 2013 hearing, Father filed a pro se " Motion for Dismissal" which was denied by the court in its judgment following that hearing. Parents appeal that denial.

We review juvenile adjudication proceedings under the standard applied in other court-tried civil cases and will affirm the judgment unless there is no substantial evidence to support it, it is against the weight of the evidence, or it erroneously declares or applies the law. In re A.G.R., 359 S.W.3d 103, 108 (Mo.App. 2011). Ordinarily, a denial of a motion to dismiss is not considered a final judgment and is not appealable. Halverson v. Halverso, 362 S.W.3d 443, 448 n7 (Mo.App. 2012). However, an order denying a motion

Page 729

to dismiss can be considered as part of the appeal from a final judgment. Id. Here, Parents appeal the court's July 29, 2013 judgment which contained the denial of Father's motion to dismiss. " This Court's review of a trial court's denial of a motion to dismiss under Rule 67.03 is limited to an abuse ...


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