Assigned on Briefs February 2, 2017
from the Circuit Court for Maury County Nos. 14937, 89021
David L. Allen, Judge
father appeals the circuit court's adjudication that his
child is dependent and neglected due to the father's
mental illness and paranoid behavior, which make the father
unfit to properly care for his child. The father contends the
circuit court erred in determining that, at the time of
trial, his child was dependent and neglected. Finding the
evidence clearly and convincingly supports the circuit
court's ruling, we affirm.
R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Circuit
D. Snyder, Columbia, Tennessee, for the appellant, Lewis B.
Herbert H. Slatery, Attorney General and Reporter, and
Ellison M. Berryhill, Assistant Attorney General, Nashville,
Tennessee, for the appellee, Tennessee Department of
Morgan Pace, Nashville, Tennessee, for the minor child, Lukis
G. Clement, Jr., P.J., M.S., delivered the opinion of the
Court, in which Thomas R. Frierson, II, and Brandon O.
Gibson, JJ., joined.
G. CLEMENT, JR., P.J., M.S.
receiving a referral that Lewis B. ("Father") had
been arrested, the Tennessee Department of Children's
Services ("DCS") filed a petition in the Maury
County Juvenile Court on April 16, 2013, alleging that Lukis
B. (born April 2000) was dependent and neglected while in
Father's care. The petition alleged, inter alia,
that Father was arrested on April 7, 2013, for simple assault
against Patricia B.―Father's paramour with whom
Father and the child resided―due to his erratic
behavior and declarations that one of the family members was
going to die that night. It further alleged that several guns
were removed from the home and $8, 000 and over 100 narcotic
pills were found in Father's pocket at the time of his
arrest. The juvenile court signed a protective custody order
on the day the petition was filed, placing the minor child in
the temporary custody of Patricia B. and prohibiting contact
between Father and the child.
preliminary hearing was held three days later, following
which the juvenile court found probable cause to believe that
Lukis was dependent and neglected and ordered temporary
custody of the child to remain with Patricia B. On January
24, 2014, the juvenile court adjudicated the child dependent
and neglected. That ruling was appealed by Father to the
Maury County Circuit Court.
the matter was pending de novo review before the circuit
court, Patricia B. reported that she was no longer able to
care for Lukis due to her ailing health. Thereafter, DCS
filed a petition for temporary legal custody of the child,
and on December 14, 2015, the child was committed to the care
and custody of DCS.
a one-day trial on December 28, 2015, the circuit court ruled
that DCS had proven, by clear and convincing evidence, that
Lukis was dependent and neglected and suffering from neglect
or abuse based upon Father's mental condition.
appeals, contending the evidence was insufficient to prove by
clear and convincing evidence that Lukis was dependent and
neglected at the time of the de novo hearing.
is dependent and neglected if the "parent, guardian or
person with whom the child lives, by reason of cruelty,
mental incapacity, immorality, or depravity is unfit to
properly care for such child, " Tenn. Code Ann. §
37-1-102(b)(13)(B) (2016), or if the child "is suffering
from abuse or neglect." Tenn. Code Ann. §
37-1-102(b)(13)(G) (2016). A determination that a child is
dependent and neglected must be supported by clear and
convincing evidence. Tenn. Code Ann. § 37-1-129 (2016).
For evidence to meet the clear and convincing standard, it
must eliminate any serious or substantial doubt about the
correctness of the conclusions to be drawn from the evidence.
In re Valentine, 79 S.W.3d 539, 546 (Tenn. 2002)
(citing Hodges v. S.C. Toof & Co., 833 S.W.2d
896, 901 ...