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New Jersey Division of Youth and Family Services v. R.B.

April 20, 2009

NEW JERSEY DIVISION OF YOUTH AND FAMILY SERVICES, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
R.B., III, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.
IN THE MATTER OF THE GUARDIANSHIP OF R.B., A MINOR.



On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division - Family Part, Bergen County, Docket No. FG-02-108-07.

Per curiam.

RECORD IMPOUNDED

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted April 1, 2009

Before Judges Fisher, C.L. Miniman and Baxter.

Defendant, R.B., III, appeals from an April 16, 2008 order that terminated his parental rights to his son, R.B., born August 8, 2004.*fn1 Defendant contends that the proofs offered at trial by the Division of Youth and Family Services (DYFS) failed to satisfy the applicable statutory standard for termination of parental rights, and accordingly the order in question must be reversed and the termination vacated. In the alternative, defendant argues that he was denied the effective assistance of counsel and is entitled to a remand pursuant to New Jersey Division of Youth and Family Services v. B.R., 192 N.J. 301 (2007). We affirm.

I.

DYFS involvement with defendant began on July 7, 2005, when police responded to a neighbor's call to 9-1-1 about a loud argument between C.B. and defendant. When police responded to the home, C.B. reported that she and defendant had been arguing because there was not enough money to buy food. C.B. alleged that during the argument, defendant grabbed eleven-month old R.B. by the arm and threw him to the floor, causing a cut under his right eye. C.B. also reported that defendant had thrown a heavy toolbox at her during the argument, and when she stepped aside to avoid the attack, the toolbox hit D.C., C.B.'s daughter from a prior relationship. D.C. sustained a contusion to her right eye and a bloody nose. Both children received medical treatment at a local hospital. On July 15, 2005, C.B. sought, and obtained, a domestic violence temporary restraining order (TRO)*fn2 against defendant, barring him from any contact with her, D.C. and R.B.

During a search of defendant's abandoned car, police found three rifles, two knives, a crossbow, a pistol and ammunition. Ultimately, defendant was admitted into the Pretrial Intervention Program and placed on probation for three years as a result of the July 7, 2005 incident.

On February 1, 2006, DYFS learned that R.B. was in defendant's custody despite the July 15, 2005 TRO that barred defendant from having any contact with R.B., much less actual physical custody. Defendant's violation of the TRO, and the imminent threat to R.B.'s physical safety and security, led DYFS to initiate an emergency removal of R.B. on February 1, 2006.

Two days later, DYFS filed a verified protective services complaint in which it sought custody of R.B., D.C. and a third child born to C.B.*fn3 That same day, the court ordered all three children to be placed in the legal and physical custody of DYFS, and directed that any contact between defendant and R.B. be supervised. At the same time, the judge ordered defendant to submit to a psychological evaluation with Dr. Manuel Iser.

After a clinical interview and psychological testing of defendant on April 6, 2006, Iser diagnosed defendant as suffering from a personality disorder with narcissistic traits and intermittent explosive disorder. Iser opined that defendant's refusal to take responsibility for his assaultive conduct toward his son was "[o]f major clinical concern."

Iser also opined that "under certain conditions," which included "brooding, using drugs, and becoming angry regarding his wife's adulter[ou]s affair," defendant could again become violent and assaultive, thereby endangering R.B., because defendant "makes no distinction between harming children and adults." Iser also opined that defendant "lacks impulse control." He recommended that defendant engage in individual psychotherapy, submit to an immediate psychiatric evaluation and random drug screens, and attend substance abuse treatment if defendant tested positive during any of his urine drug screens.

At a June 15, 2006 compliance review hearing, after reviewing Iser's report, the judge ordered defendant to attend parenting skills training, and complete a psychiatric evaluation, substance abuse treatment and individual therapy. That same day, defendant enrolled in the Challenge Domestic Violence Prevention Program, and although ...


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