in the Court of Appeals 21 December 2017.
by Respondent from order entered 17 March 2017 by Judge Ty M.
Hands in Mecklenburg County No. 16 JA 512 District Court.
brief filed for petitioner-appellee Mecklenburg County
Department of Social Services, Youth and Family Services.
Mercedes O. Chut for respondent-appellant mother.
William L. Gardo II for Guardian ad Litem-appellee.
N.HUNTER, JR., Judge.
the mother of the juvenile B.P.
("Beth"), appeals from an order adjudicating the
juvenile neglected and dependent. After careful review, we
vacate and remand.
Factual and Procedural Background
October 2016, the Mecklenburg County Department of Social
Services, Youth and Family Services ("DSS"), filed
a petition alleging Beth was a neglected and dependent
juvenile. DSS stated it received a child protective services
("CPS") report on 24 July 2016 regarding Beth.
DSS's investigation revealed police had responded to a
domestic violence call where Respondent reported Beth's
putative father ("Mr. P.") "had swung at her
and then pushed the stroller over with the baby
inside." Mr. P. was arrested for communicating
threats and assault on a female. Meanwhile, Respondent
informed police she was homeless and had not been taking her
medication, and police became concerned about her mental
status. Respondent's case was transferred to Family
Intervention Services to address concerns regarding domestic
violence, mental health, and parenting issues. The next day,
Respondent was arrested on charges of common law robbery and
conspiracy. Respondent did not expect to be released prior to
stated during the course of their investigation, Respondent
was staying in a laundromat. The laundromat's owners
tried to assist Respondent. The owners had friends ("Mr.
and Mrs. M.") in Cabarrus County who were willing to
take Beth. Respondent placed Beth with Mr. and Mrs. M., and
Beth was still in their care when the petition was filed. DSS
noted Respondent attempted to grant Mr. and Mrs. M.
"guardianship" of Beth via a handwritten, notarized
addition to the events which led to the filing of the
petition, DSS alleged Respondent had been diagnosed with
bipolar disorder, depression, and anxiety, and had not been
compliant with treatment. DSS also noted Respondent had her
parental rights to two older children terminated. Among the
issues which led to the termination of her parental rights to
those children were: Respondent's criminal activity and
resulting arrest and incarceration; leaving the juveniles
with an inappropriate caretaker; yelling at one of the
children while at a domestic violence shelter; and pulling a
knife on a friend who was holding one of the juveniles. A
third child of Respondent was placed in foster care after DSS
received a report in 2013 Respondent was using crack cocaine,
engaging in prostitution, and not meeting the child's
needs. Additionally, Respondent had placed the child with
someone who had an extensive CPS history. The child was
ultimately placed in her father's custody, and Respondent
was denied visitation. DSS obtained non-secure custody of
Beth and continued her placement with Mr. and Mrs. M.
January 2017, the date of the start of the adjudicatory
hearing, DSS filed an amended petition. DSS amended the
petition to add the allegation Mr. P. had "posted a
large number of statements on Facebook that [Respondent had]
engaged in prostitution and drug use since November 22,
2016." On 17 March 2017, the trial court entered an
order adjudicating Beth a neglected and dependent juvenile.
Standard of Review
"The role of this Court in reviewing a trial court's
adjudication of neglect [and dependency] is to determine
'(1) whether the findings of fact are supported by
"clear and convincing evidence, " and (2) whether
the legal conclusions are supported by the findings of
fact[.]' " In re T.H.T., 185 N.C.App. 337,
343, 648 S.E.2d 519, 523 (2007) (quoting In re
Gleisner, 141 N.C.App. 475, 480, 539 S.E.2d 362, 365
(2000)), aff'd as modified, 362 N.C. 446, 665
S.E.2d 54 (2008). "If such evidence exists, the findings
of the trial court are binding on appeal, even if the
evidence would support a finding to the contrary."
Id. (citation omitted). We review the trial
court's conclusions of law de novo on appeal.
In re D.M.M., 179 N.C.App. 383, 385, 633 S.E.2d 715,
716 (2006) (citation omitted).
argues the trial court erred by adjudicating Beth a neglected
and dependent juvenile. Here, the trial court found as fact:
a. On 24 July 2016, [DSS] received a [CPS] report regarding
b. The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department [responded] to
a domestic violence call where the mother reported that the
father had swung at her and then pushed the ...