NEW JERSEY DIVISION OF CHILD PROTECTION AND PERMANENCY, Plaintiff-Respondent,
R.W., Defendant-Appellant. IN THE MATTER OF M.W. and Z.W., minors
Submitted October 22, 2014
Approved for Publication December 23, 2014.
On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Camden County, Docket No. FN-04-437-11.
Joseph E. Krakora, Public Defender, attorney for appellant ( Chanima K. Odoms, Designated Counsel, on the briefs).
John J. Hoffman, Acting Attorney General, attorney for respondent ( Melissa H. Raksa, Assistant Attorney General, of counsel; Jeffrey S. Widmayer, Deputy Attorney General, on the brief).
Joseph E. Krakora, Public Defender, Law Guardian, attorney for minors ( Linda Vele Alexander, Designated Counsel, on the brief).
Before Judges ALVAREZ, WAUGH, and CARROLL.
[438 N.J.Super. 464] OPINION
Defendant R.W. appeals from a July 11, 2011 Family Part order entered in a Title Nine proceeding finding that she abused and neglected her infant, born February 2011, as defined in N.J.S.A. 9:6-8.21(c)(4)(b). We now reverse, concluding that R.W.'s use of marijuana on one occasion, while accompanied by her child, did not establish that she placed the child in imminent danger or at substantial risk of harm.
Plaintiff New Jersey Division of Child Protection and Permanency (Division) effectuated an emergent removal of R.W.'s child when she was incarcerated as a parole violator on March 29, 2011. The Division's verified complaint, filed two days later, stated that R.W. and her family had a " long history with the Division." Because eighteen-year-old R.W. " was no longer welcome to reside with her adoptive parents" and had been in the care of the Division for an unspecified number of years, the Division placed [438 N.J.Super. 465] her and her child in the Capable Adolescent Mothers Program (CAM).
The complaint alleged:
The Division was informed that [R.W.] had admitted to smoking marijuana on March 28, 2011[,] at CAM. The CAM staff had reportedly made several efforts to assist [R.W.] in developing life skills and parenting skills, but had been unsuccessful. It was further reported that [R.W.] had exhibited poor parenting skills, as she had been observed yelling, cursing[,] and screaming at [her infant]. [R.W.] also reportedly left [the infant] alone in the room or with staff for extended periods of time. Due to [R.W.'s] overall behavior and lack of compliance at CAM, it was determined that she had violated her parole. There were also concerns with [R.W.] being verbally aggressive towards the staff members at CAM and her refusal to comply with a psychological evaluation. Therefore, on the afternoon of March 29, 2011, her parole officer arrived at the CAM facility to remove [R.W.] and to take her to the Hayes Correctional Facility.
The record includes no information regarding R.W.'s parole, or her original offense.
R.W. failed to appear for the fact-finding hearing, during which the Division presented no ...