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Gregg v. Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court of Bergen County

Decided: May 10, 1945.

ROSALIE L. GREGG, PROSECUTRIX-APPELLANT,
v.
JUVENILE AND DOMESTIC RELATIONS COURT OF BERGEN COUNTY, DEFENDANT-RESPONDENT



On appeal from the Supreme Court.

For the appellant, Thomas Brunetto.

For the respondent, Walter D. Van Riper, Attorney-General (Eugene T. Urbaniak, Deputy Attorney-General, of counsel).

Colie

The opinion of the court was delivered by

COLIE, J. This is the appeal of Rosalie L. Gregg from a judgment of the Supreme Court dismissing a writ of certiorari allowed to review the legality of an order of the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court of Bergen County awarding the custody of Robert Kent Lascala, an infant, to the New Jersey State Board of Children's Guardians.

The facts, as far as necessary to a decision, disclose that appellant, who at that time was unmarried and whose name was Rosalie Lascala, was committed to the New Jersey Reformatory for Women at Clinton, New Jersey, on March 1st, 1938, upon a charge of open lewdness. Appellant was then pregnant and on September 5th, 1938, gave birth to a son.

On November 25th, 1938, Miss Edna Mahan, superintendent of the Clinton Reformatory, filed a petition in the Bergen County Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court, praying that the child be committed to the care of the State Board of Children's Guardians. The petition recited that "it is not assumed that Rose [the present appellant] will be able to support this child, so for its own welfare, it is recommended that he be committed to the State Board of Children's Guardians. * * * there is no one financially able to provide for the care, maintenance and support of the within mentioned child, and that it will become a public charge and dependent on public society if some means is not provided for its support." Notice that a hearing on the petition would be held on December 15th, 1938, was served on Miss Mahan, but not upon the mother who was then an inmate of the reformatory. In addition the notice of hearing is conceded to have been sent to the State Board of Children's Guardians, the county adjuster, and the probation officer, both of Bergen County.

The record before us lacks the evidence that was introduced at the hearing which resulted in the order awarding custody to the State Board. The order recites that "the Court being satisfied that the best interests of Robert Kent Lascala required that (he) be placed under proper guardianship. It is ordered that (he) be committed to the care, custody and control of the New Jersey State Board of Children's Guardians * * * and * * * that the Board of Freeholders of the County of Bergen shall pay its proportionate expense for the care of Robert Kent Lascala * * * in accordance with Chapter 5 of Title 30 of the Revised Statutes, as amended."

In May, 1944, the appellant filed in the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court a petition setting forth that she had not been served with notice or copy of the petition to transfer the custody of the infant to the State Board; that her mother, father and sister were able and capable of caring for the child if she could not do so and praying that the order of December 15th, 1938, be vacated. A rule to show cause was issued and served upon the State Board. On the return of the rule, the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Judge heard

testimony and after argument and the submission of briefs, denied the prayer of the petition to vacate the order of December 15th, 1938, and discharged the rule to show cause.

The question for decision is whether the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court had jurisdiction to enter the order committing the infant to the care, ...


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