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In re Welfare of Child of J.B.T.

Court of Appeals of Minnesota

November 25, 2013

In the Matter of the Welfare of the Child of: J.B.T., Parent

UNPUBLISHED OPINION

Clay County District Court File No. 14-JV-13-654.

Mara K. Rausch, Moorhead, Minnesota (for appellant mother) Johnathan R. Judd, Assistant Clay County Attorney, Moorhead Minnesota (for respondent).

Thomas Joseph Nolan, Jr., Nolan Law Offices, Minneapolis, Minnesota (for guardian ad litem).

Considered and decided by Rodenberg, Presiding Judge; Chutich, Judge; and Klaphake, Judge. [*]

CHUTICH, Judge

Appellant challenges the district court's order adjudicating her son a child in need of protection or services, arguing that the evidence is insufficient to support the district court's conclusion and that the district court abused its discretion by admitting the child protection assessment summary into evidence. Because clear and convincing evidence shows that the child is in need of protection or services, and because the district court did not abuse its discretion in admitting the challenged document, we affirm.

FACTS

J.B.T. is the biological mother of D.J.T., born September 29, 2008. D.J.T. was diagnosed with pervasive developmental disorder, which is an autism spectrum disorder, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Kristen Hettwer, a personal care attendant (PCA), assists J.B.T. with D.J.T. for five hours per day.

J.B.T. sustained a traumatic brain injury in a car accident several years ago and has been diagnosed with adjustment disorder with depression and histrionic personality disorder. On February 4, 2013, J.B.T. had outpatient neck surgery. She was prescribed several narcotic pain medications, and Hettwer worked extra hours to help J.B.T. with D.J.T. after the surgery.

On February 19, Vanessa Goodell, a mental health worker with Solutions, Inc., visited J.B.T.'s apartment. The apartment was very messy, with toys and clothes scattered all around and dirty dishes in the sink and on the counters. Cat feces were on the floor, an ice cream sandwich was smashed into the carpet in the living room, and a large T.V. was tipped over. When Goodell arrived, J.B.T. was asleep and D.J.T. was unsupervised. D.J.T. had a bruise under his eye. Goodell spoke with J.B.T., who appeared to be disoriented and nonsensical.

Because D.J.T. had a scheduled appointment at Solutions, Inc., Goodell took him to the appointment as planned. Because of her concerns regarding the state of the apartment, the bruise under D.J.T.'s eye, and J.B.T.'s disoriented state, Goodell made a report to Clay County Social Services and the Moorhead Police Department.

Rachel Brause, the Clay County Social Services Child Protection Specialist, went to Solutions, Inc. to meet with D.J.T. She noted that D.J.T. had a bruise and dark circles under his eyes, the latter suggesting a lack of sleep. D.J.T. told Brause that he made a mess of his room while his mother was sleeping, that his bedroom door was locked, and that he hurt his eye when the T.V. fell. Brause placed D.J.T. in emergency foster care.

Brause spoke with J.B.T. at the apartment a few hours after D.J.T. was placed in emergency protective care. By that time, J.B.T. and Hettwer had cleaned the apartment. J.B.T. told Brause that the cat scratched D.J.T., which caused the bruise under his eye. J.B.T. admitted that she was sleeping while D.J.T. was awake from 5 a.m. to 8 a.m. and that she was unaware that he had made a mess in the apartment. Brause completed a child ...


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