Assigned on Briefs Date: March 1, 2017
from the Juvenile Court for Davidson County No. 211759 Sheila
appeal concerns the termination of a mother's parental
rights to her minor child. The Tennessee Department of
Children's Services ("DCS") filed a petition in
the Juvenile Court for Davidson County ("the Juvenile
Court") seeking to terminate the parental rights of
Judith B. ("Mother") to her minor child Lorenda B.
("the Child"). Mother has alleged throughout this
case that there is a satanic conspiracy against her and that
the Child is at risk of having her organs harvested for
trafficking purposes. After a trial, the Juvenile Court
terminated Mother's parental rights. Mother appeals to
this Court. We affirm the grounds of substantial
noncompliance with the permanency plan and mental
incompetence, but we reverse the grounds of willful failure
to support and persistence of conditions. We also affirm
the Juvenile Court's finding that termination of
Mother's parental rights is in the Child's best
interest. We affirm, in part, and reverse, in part, the
judgment of the Juvenile Court.
R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Juvenile
Court Affirmed, in Part, and, Reversed, in Part; Case
Perenich, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Judith B.
Herbert H. Slatery, III, Attorney General and Reporter, and,
Alexander S. Rieger, Assistant Attorney General, for the
appellee, the Tennessee Department of Children's
E. Evans, Guardian Ad Litem.
Michael Swiney, C.J., delivered the opinion of the court, in
which Andy D. Bennett and Kenny W. Armstrong, JJ., joined.
MICHAEL SWINEY, CHIEF JUDGE
Child was born to Mother in March 2005. DCS became involved
in the Child's life in November 2013 because of
Mother's alleged erratic behavior and the Child's not
receiving sufficient education. The Child was placed with a
family for a period of time but that arrangement ended. The
Child entered DCS foster care. In June 2014, the Juvenile
Court magistrate found the Child dependent and neglected.
After a rehearing before the Juvenile Court, the Child in
November 2015 again was found dependent and neglected. That
order was appealed to Circuit Court, and that appeal was not
decided as of the entry of the final order in this parental
has been evaluated by psychologists on multiple occasions. In
2002, a psychologist who evaluated Mother opined that Mother
suffered from "subtle thought disorder" which
involves paranoid tendencies. In 2015, two doctors diagnosed
Mother with "unspecified schizophrenia spectrum and
other psychotic disorder." Two permanency plans were
designed for Mother. These plans required Mother, among other
things, to obtain a legal source of income and stable
housing, undergo a psychological evaluation and follow all
recommendations, and, undergo a mental health assessment and
follow all recommendations. Initially, visitation was
ordered, but this was suspended after the Child allegedly
expressed a desire that the visitation cease.
October 2015, DCS filed a petition in the Juvenile Court
seeking to terminate Mother's parental rights to the
Child. Trial was held over the course of five days in March
and July of 2016. The testimony at trial ranged far afield as
to Mother's history and general beliefs. We summarize
only the pertinent testimony from key witnesses.
testified. Mother stated that she worked temporary jobs.
Mother, once homeless, had lived at an apartment for about
six months leading up to trial. Mother receives food stamps.
Mother, citing her religious beliefs, refused to take any
medication to address her mental health issues. A recurring
theme from Mother over the course of trial was her adamant
belief that sinister forces threatened her and the Child.
Mother testified at trial as follows:
Q. (By Mr. Perenich) were you ever evaluated for possible
medication regarding mental health issues?
A. At the beginning of this case, there was some sort of an
evaluation I would not consider. But, yes, I did cooperate
and show up for the appointment.
Q. Now --
A. I'm not depressed. I don't cry.
Q. No. I'm just asking if you cooperated with the
A. I'm not sitting around moping and crying. I don't
I don't want them.
Q. Do you believe that you've completed the permanency
plan DCS has set forth for you to do to get [the Child] back?
A. I believe that DCS has taken my daughter prisoner, and I
should not have to complete the plan. I believe that I have
been denied due process of law in a timely fashion. They
failed to do an adequate investigation.
They should have talked with my father and the father of my
first two sons who bribed the judge to use a false psych.
eval. against me. I think that was a good psych. eval. They
discarded it after Jeff bribed the judge, and they replaced
it with a faulty one.
I'm not denying that I have need for counseling. But I
have sought counsel, and I have found it, and I have been
ministered to it, by it. It has been helpful to me. I have
received miraculous, medically-documented healing.
Subpoena my doctor, Clarissa Arthur. Ask her about it. Did I
receive a miracle, was I really sick, and did I get really
well? Yes, I did. So I must be doing something right.
You should be asking me, how did you come from being a
satanic ritual abuse survivor who was bleeding to death for
years on her cycle and not able to work, to a mom that is
able to endure this kind of stress, bear up under it, and
still have a good attitude and live with hope and work and be
well-respected and well-received and appreciated by many
people who know me.
They should be taking notes. Why is it that signs and wonders
are following me, and what are those signs saying? Because
God has given us grace, and we all need it desperately. And
we need to work together, not against each other.
Q. Do you have any concerns about [the Child's] care at
the present time in DCS custody?
A. Yes. I have great concern. I feel that God has given us a
three-year window to get it together here, to get it right.
And if it were to go beyond that, I would fear for her life.
I would fear for her becoming a victim of organ trafficking.
I have been concerned that there may have been sexual abuse
in the [Ms'] home.
There are tangible reasons I can point to that were
circumstantial evidences that were extremely upsetting, but
I'm not quite as concerned about that. Pardon me?
Q. You said you've got tangible reasons why she might be
a victim of sexual abuse?
A. Yeah --
Q. What are those?
A. -- the yeast infection and the doctor's visit. The way
DCS responded to the doctor's referral was very
inappropriate and distorted. It's very suspicious. Why
would they do that? Why would they try to accuse me of
coercing the doctor to make a referral? That's absurd.
Get the doctor in here to testify.
Q. And you are aware that one of the requirements is to see a
A. Not acutely aware. I mean, I actually probably have
skimmed over that assessment, knowing that it is faulty from
the foundation up.
Q. So basically no matter what it says, you've felt no
obligation to call; am I accurate?
A. I'm not impressed with a foundationally faulty
assessment. It's more provoking than it is helpful, and I
have tried ...