NEW JERSEY DIVISION OF CHILD PROTECTION AND PERMANENCY, Plaintiff-Respondent,
M.N.P., Defendant-Appellant. IN THE MATTER OF THE GUARDIANSHIP OF Y.J., a minor.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted September 25, 2013
On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Camden County, Docket No. FG-04-0137-12.
Joseph E. Krakora, Public Defender, attorney for appellant (Robert W. Ratish, Designated Counsel, on the brief).
Joseph J. Hoffman, Acting Attorney General, attorney for respondent (Lewis A. Scheindlin, Assistant Attorney General, of counsel; Michelle D. Perry-Thompson, Deputy Attorney General, on the brief).
Joseph E. Krakora, Public Defender, Law Guardian, attorney for Y.J., a minor (Lisa M. Black, Designated Counsel, on the brief).
Before Judges Sapp-Peterson and Maven.
Defendant M.P. (Monica),  the biological mother of Y.J. (Yolanda), appeals from the trial court order terminating her parental rights and granting guardianship to the Division of Child Protection and Permanency (the Division) to secure the child's adoption. On appeal, defendant argues the evidence was insufficient to satisfy the statutory requirements of N.J.S.A. 30:4C-15.1a. The Law Guardian supported termination before the trial court and, on appeal, joins the Division in urging us to affirm.
Based on our review of the record and applicable law, we are satisfied that the Division proved by clear and convincing evidence the requisite statutory factors required to terminate defendant's parental rights. Accordingly, we affirm substantially for the reasons expressed by Judge Linda G. Baxter, (retired and temporarily assigned on recall), in her thorough and well-reasoned October 15, 2012 oral opinion.
We briefly summarize the relevant facts, drawn from the record established in the trial court. At the time of the precipitating incident, Monica had two children living with her, two-year-old Yolanda and four-month-old Anne. On November 27, 2010, the Division received a referral from the Trenton Police Department that Monica and her husband Anthony, Anne's biological father, brought Anne to a local hospital, in critical condition due to a brain hemorrhage. A Division investigator spoke with an emergency room nurse who attended to Anne upon her arrival at the hospital. According to the nurse, Anne was unresponsive when she arrived. The child had a fever and had suffered a seizure. She stopped breathing during a CAT-scan and was placed on a ventilator to help her breathe. The CAT-scan revealed severe swelling, and bleeding in the back of Anne's brain. In addition, the nurse told the Division investigator that Anne had several burn marks, in varying healing stages, on her right torso, her inner legs and thighs, as well as on both ankles.
Due to the critical nature of Anne's condition, she was airlifted to Robert Wood Johnson Hospital in New Brunswick. The nurse there reported to the Division investigator that the cause of Anne's brain injury was still unknown, but that the burns on the child's body raised suspicions of abuse. She also stated that Anne might not live.
The Division's preliminary investigation raised concerns with respect to Monica's mental health and unstable housing, as well as serious questions regarding the circumstances surrounding the cause of Anne's burns and brain injury. On November 30, 2010, the Division initiated an emergency removal of Yolanda and Anne from Monica and Anthony. That same day, the trial court granted the Division ...