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New Jersey Division of Child Protection & Permanency v. C.P.

Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division

December 17, 2013

C.P., Defendant-Appellant. IN THE MATTER OF THE GUARDIANSHIP OF I.M.L., a minor.


Submitted November 6, 2013

On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Mercer County, Docket No. FG-11-3-13.

Joseph E. Krakora, Public Defender, attorney for appellant (Beryl Foster-Andres, Designated Counsel, on the briefs).

John J. Hoffman, Acting Attorney General, attorney for respondent (Andrea M. Silkowitz, Assistant Attorney General, of counsel; Susan Brown-Peitz, Deputy Attorney General, on the brief).

Joseph E. Krakora, Public Defender, Law Guardian, attorney for minor I.M.L. (Lisa M. Black, Designated Counsel, on the brief).

Before Judges Espinosa, Koblitz and O'Connor.


Defendant C.P. appeals from the termination of her parental rights to her daughter, I.M.L. We affirm, substantially for the reasons set forth by Judge Audrey Peyton Blackburn in her oral opinion.

I.M.L. is defendant's fourth child, born January 11, 2011. Within two days of her birth, the Division of Youth and Family Services (the Division)[1] received a referral from the hospital regarding a confrontation between C.P. and I.M.L.'s biological father, I.L., [2] that required security to be summoned. When hospital staff came to the room in response to the yelling, I.L. explained that C.P. refused to allow him to leave the hospital and hit him. He stated that C.P. frequently hit him at home. The hospital social worker reported that C.P. demanded to have the baby removed from her room, and continued to be verbally hostile to I.L., screaming down the hallway to him that she did not care if "DYFS" took custody of their daughter. According to C.P.'s prenatal records, she admitted occasional alcohol and cocaine consumption and daily marijuana usage during her initial pre-natal appointment in August 2010.

The caseworker reported that, when he interviewed C.P., she "angrily" stated "the Division had no business coming to talk to her as it was part of her agreement when she willingly terminated her parental rights many years ago in regards to her first three children[.]" C.P. stated she had made an identified surrender of the children to her sister, T.W., after she was non-compliant with parenting and drug services required of her. She denied hitting I.L. in the hospital or previously. She admitted making the comment about the Division taking custody of her daughter, explaining "she let her aggravation get the best of her, " and stated she had no intention to leave the hospital without her daughter.

When interviewed by the caseworker, I.L. reported that there had been numerous physical assaults, some resulting in C.P.'s arrest. He stated she drank to the point of intoxication during her pregnancy and that he feared she would inadvertently roll over on the baby in her sleep and suffocate her.

Further investigation cast doubt upon C.P.'s denial of prior domestic violence as there were three outstanding warrants for her arrest for domestic violence incidents involving I.L. She also had multiple arrests for drugs and paraphernalia.

In January 2011, C.P. agreed to take part in a Safety Protection Plan that required her to be supervised when she was with I.M.L. by I.L., and, when he was at work, by his adult children. She agreed to cooperate with services required by the Division, including attending meetings at Catholic Charities, participation in a psychological evaluation, and following recommendations from those service providers.

A substance abuse assessment/evaluation completed on January 20, 2011 was negative for all substances. C.P. admitted to a history of mental health issues, including depression, anxiety and controlling violent behavior, but asserted that she did not feel the need for treatment.

The Division sought and was granted care and supervision of I.M.L. on January 25, 2011. The court granted joint legal and physical custody to C.P. and I.L., and ordered them to comply with the provisions of the Safety Protection Plan.

An assessment of C.P.'s cognitive and emotional functioning as it related to her parenting ability was performed by Jamie Gordon-Karp, Psy.D., in February 2011. Dr. Gordon-Karp reported that C.P. presented as angry, particularly during the testing portion of the assessment, and denied any history of domestic violence, any need for help in raising her daughter or that it was necessary for her parenting to be supervised.

Dr. Gordon-Karp found C.P. to function in the low average range of intelligence and stated that the results of the Millon Clinical Multiaxial Inventory-III suggested she was "extremely self-centered" and might "have difficulty putting the needs of others before her own." Dr. Gordon-Karp recommended that C.P. engage in individual and couples therapy; participate in anger management and parenting classes; undergo psychiatric and substance abuse evaluations; and that her contact with I.M.L. continue to be supervised until she demonstrated a commitment to treatment and services.

On April 5, 2011, C.P. stipulated to the jurisdiction of the court under Title 30, admitting she required the Division's assistance. She complied with the court-ordered requirement that she submit to a substance abuse evaluation and had four consecutive negative urine screens thereafter. However, she ...

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