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In re Yvonne R.

Court of Appeals of Tennessee, Knoxville

July 3, 2017

In re YVONNE R.

          Assigned on Briefs April 3, 2017

         Appeal from the Circuit Court for Cumberland County No. 2016-CV-6081 Jonathan L. Young, Judge

         A circuit court adjudicated a child dependent and neglected because her mother's mental incapacity rendered the Mother unfit to properly care for the child. Upon review, we conclude that the circuit court's decision is supported by clear and convincing evidence, and thus, we affirm.

         Tenn. R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right Judgment of the Circuit Court Affirmed

          Cynthia S. Lyons, Cookeville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Renee R.

          Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter, and W. Derek Green, Assistant Attorney General, for the appellee, Tennessee Department of Children's Services.

          Cynthia Fields Davis, Crossville, Tennessee, Guardian Ad Litem.

          W. Neal McBrayer, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which John W. McClarty and Arnold B. Goldin, JJ., joined.

          OPINION

          W. NEAL McBRAYER, JUDGE

         I.

         After a juvenile court adjudicated her child dependent and neglected, the child's mother, Renee R. ("Mother"), appealed to the Circuit Court for Cumberland County, Tennessee. The court conducted a de novo hearing on July 6 and September 13, 2016. The following proof was presented.

          A.

         On September 21, 2015, Cumberland County law enforcement performed a welfare check on Yvonne R., at the request of her father, who lived out of state. At the time, 11 year-old Yvonne was at home with Mother. When law enforcement arrived, the officers discovered that Mother and Yvonne had been involved in an altercation and that Mother had hit the child three times with a plastic jump rope. The officers saw raised marks on the child's arm and thigh. Mother admitted that she had struck the child, and when interviewed, Yvonne reported she had been hit before. When the officers attempted to place Mother under arrest, she became "very agitated, " kicked one of the officers, and otherwise refused to cooperate. Ultimately, Mother was arrested for child abuse, domestic violence, and resisting arrest and was taken to jail.

         Upon her arrest, a protective order was issued prohibiting any contact between Mother and the child. Mother had sole custody of Yvonne; she had never married Yvonne's father, Charles M. ("Father"). Because Mother reported that she had no friends or family members in Tennessee, the Tennessee Department of Children's Services ("DCS") took emergency custody of the child that same day. See Tenn. Code Ann. § 37-1-113 (2014).

         A DCS investigator interviewed Mother and Yvonne on the day of the incident. The investigator saw the welts left by the jump rope and heard Yvonne's description of events.[1] According to Yvonne, Mother typically hit her one to three times a week. The DCS investigator testified that Mother told several versions of the events before finally claiming that she only struck the child in self-defense.

         After the protective order was lifted, DCS arranged for Mother to have supervised visitation with Yvonne at the DCS offices. Mother arrived for her first visit on October 20, 2015. Even though she was informed that it was not possible, Mother repeatedly insisted that Yvonne was coming home that day. While it was apparent that both Mother and Yvonne were happy to see each other, Mother spent the visit pressuring Yvonne to write ...


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