NEW JERSEY DIVISION OF YOUTH AND FAMILY SERVICES, Plaintiff-Respondent,
C.B., Defendant-Appellant. IN THE MATTER OF C.F. AND A.S., Minors.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted March 19, 2013
On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Hudson County, Docket No. FN-09-166-10.
Joseph E. Krakora, Public Defender, attorney for appellant (Kimmo Z.H. Abbasi, Designated Counsel, on the brief).
Jeffrey S. Chiesa, Attorney General, attorney for respondent (Andrea M. Silkowitz, Assistant Attorney General, of counsel; Melissa Medoway, Deputy Attorney General, on the brief).
Joseph E. Krakora, Public Defender, Law Guardian, attorney for minors C.F. and A.S. (David R. Giles, Designated Counsel, on the brief).
Before Judges Alvarez, St. John, and Leone.
Defendant C.B. is the mother of C.F., born April 2008, and A.S., born April 2009. On September 21, 2009, defendant called the New Jersey Division of Youth and Family Services (the Division). Sobbing, she stated that she did not want to harm the infants, but she was overwhelmed. She urged the Division to remove C.F. and A.S. from her home because she had decided to commit suicide. Defendant took a knife and an entire bottle of prenatal vitamin pills into the bathroom, and tried to swallow all the pills. Her roommate came in the bathroom, knocked the rest of the pills out of defendant's mouth, and tried to hold her. After the roommate let go to call the police, defendant took the knife and began to stab herself in the wrist in an effort to kill herself. When police arrived, defendant became irate and it took several officers to restrain her. Defendant was admitted to the hospital for a mental evaluation.
Later that same day, the Division performed an emergency removal of C.F. See N.J.S.A. 9:6-8.29, -8.30. The Division subsequently performed an emergency removal of A.S. from R.S. when he was discovered not to be her father. The Division placed C.F. and A.S. with a relative.
On September 23, 2009, the Division filed a complaint initiating a Title 9 action, and a request for an order to show cause. At a hearing that day, Judge Margaret M. Foti signed the order to show cause and upheld the emergency removal of C.F. and A.S., finding that they were in imminent danger.
On January 28, 2010, at a fact-finding hearing pursuant to N.J.S.A. 9:6-8.44, defendant admitted that she had attempted to commit suicide while "in a big rage" and "out of [her] mind." She also admitted that she had said afterwards that she had thrown A.S., although she testified that she did not throw him. She added that she smoked four marijuana "blunts" each day, and had psychological issues. Judge Foti found that defendant had been using marijuana since the age of thirteen, except when she was pregnant; that on September 21, 2009, she was concerned that she had dropped or thrown one of the children; and that she attempted to commit suicide by taking many pills and cutting herself. Under N.J.S.A. 9:6-8.21(c) and -8:50, Judge Foti sustained the complaint for abuse and neglect, finding that defendant subjected her children to a risk of harm because of her sustained marijuana use and her failure to address her mental health issues.
During 2010, Judge Foti conducted several compliance review and permanency hearings. At the end of one hearing, defendant became hysterical and abusive to court officers, and emergency personnel were called to assist her in obtaining psychiatric treatment. Defendant repeatedly tested positive for P.C.P. and marijuana, and was discharged from her drug program for non-compliance. In October 2010, Judge Foti accepted the Division's permanency plan to terminate defendant's parental rights over C.F. and A.S. In December 2010, the Title Nine action was dismissed and a guardianship complaint was filed.
During a June 2011 permanency hearing, Judge Foti dismissed the guardianship complaint and reinstated the Title Nine action, approving a change of the permanency goal to reunification, as defendant had entered a Mommy and Me program. However, defendant was released from the program in August 2011, because the staff felt that she was not stable enough to have visits with the children. She tested positive for P.C.P. and marijuana in August and September ...