On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Bergen County, Docket No. FN-02-0212-10.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted November 27, 2012
Before Judges Reisner and Hoffman.
In this appeal arising under Title Nine, N.J.S.A. 9:6-8.21 to -8.73, defendant J.B. appeals from a June 21, 2010 Family Part order finding her guilty of abuse and neglect of her children A.A. and H.A., after a fact-finding hearing.*fn1 She also challenges the alleged failure of the Family Part to hold a dispositional hearing in the case.
We affirm the finding of abuse and neglect. Because the Title Nine litigation has been terminated and the Division of Child Protection and Permanency (Division)*fn2 has filed a complaint for termination of J.B.'s parental rights, we decline to address her arguments concerning the alleged lack of a dispositional hearing in the Title Nine case. In the context of this Title Nine appeal, the issue is moot. Any issues concerning the adequacy of visitation may be addressed in the context of the guardianship proceeding. See N.J. Div. of Youth & Family Servs. v. A.P., 408 N.J. Super. 252, 261 (App. Div. 2009), certif. denied, 201 N.J. 153 (2010).
We briefly review the evidence produced at the fact-finding hearing on June 14, 2010. According to the State's witnesses, on February 3, 2010, defendant and her landlord had a dispute that resulted in the police being called. When the police arrived, they found that defendant's apartment was filthy.
Officer Thomas Miller observed "a lot of debris, garbage, dirty, soiled diapers on the floor, [open] food containers in the kitchen, [and] a lot of flies." Miller also saw small plastic utensils of the type children would use. He testified that the smell of urine in the apartment was so strong that he "couldn't take it anymore" and had to leave the premises. Defendant told the police that she had two children. Although no children were in the apartment at the time, the police called the Division because there was evidence that the children had recently been in the apartment.
Officer Michael F. Dimick testified that he also observed dirty diapers all over the kitchen floor. In one of the bedrooms, he found children's toys scattered about and more dirty diapers on the floor. There was a strong smell of urine in that bedroom as well, and he observed what appeared to be human feces smeared on one of the bedroom windows and on the walls. He also saw flies in the kitchen and bedrooms.
Municipal health inspector Michael Yoscary testified that the police called him to the scene on February 3, 2010. He observed "filthy conditions" in the apartment, including flies, which were "kind of an unusual thing" to find "in February." In two of the bedrooms, he found a child's bed, a crib, and toys as well as dirty diapers. Yoscary also saw what appeared to be excrement smeared on a bedroom window.
Division intake worker Jacklyn Perez testified that she was called to defendant's apartment on February 3 due to concerns about "environmental neglect, the home condition, and that the children lived in the home." She found "sippy cups" and "children's utensils" in the sink. In one of the bedrooms she found a child's "play yard," a "toddler bed," toys, and dirty diapers on the floor. Perez also noticed "[m]ore than 50" flies and the smell of urine in that bedroom, a plastic bin with jagged, broken edges, and bags of garbage. She saw what appeared to be writing with crayons on the wall of the children's bedroom, and what she described as "brown streaks" on the window.
Defendant told Perez that she had two young children, who had been living temporarily with their paternal grandmother for the past two weeks. However, defendant also told Perez that she had "brought the children to the home briefly either to change or to pick up things." There is ...