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In Re Alexis C., Etc., and Another, Dependent Children Under the Age of Eighteen, Etc v. Jacqueline A

New York Supreme and/or Appellate Courts Appellate Division, First Department


October 16, 2012

IN RE ALEXIS C., ETC., AND ANOTHER, DEPENDENT CHILDREN UNDER THE AGE OF EIGHTEEN, ETC.,
v.
JACQUELINE A., RESPONDENT-APPELLANT,
GRAHAM-WINDHAM SERVICES TO FAMILIES AND CHILDREN, PETITIONER-RESPONDENT.

Matter of Matter of Alexis C. (Jacqueline A.)

Published by New York State Law Reporting Bureau pursuant to Judiciary Law § 431.

This opinion is uncorrected and subject to revision before publication in the Official Reports.

Decided on October 16, 2012

Gonzalez, P.J., Sweeny, Acosta, Renwick, Manzanet-Daniels, JJ.

Orders, Family Court, New York County (Jody Adams, J.), entered on or about August 23, 2011 and September 29, 2011, respectively, which, upon fact-findings of permanent neglect, terminated respondent mother's parental rights and committed custody and guardianship of the subject children to petitioner agency and the Commissioner of Social Services, unanimously affirmed, without costs, with respect to the fact-findings, and the appeals otherwise dismissed, without costs, as moot.

The court providently exercised its discretion in denying the mother's request for an adjournment to review the case record. The mother's counsel received the case record well in advance of the fact-finding hearing and was familiar with it from prior proceedings (see Matter of Breeana R.W. [Antigone W.], 89 AD3d 577, 578 [1st Dept 2011], lv denied 18 NY3d 805 [2012]). In any event, any error was harmless, as the mother does not identify any particular progress notes that were improperly admitted or prejudicial. Nor has the mother demonstrated that she was deprived of meaningful representation and suffered actual prejudice as a result of her counsel's alleged deficiencies (Matter of Aaron Tyrell W., 58 AD3d 419, 420 [1st Dept 2009]).

Clear and convincing evidence supports the court's findings that the mother had permanently neglected the subject children within the meaning of Social Services Law § 384-b(7)(a) (see § 384-b[3][g][i]). Indeed, despite petitioner agency's diligent efforts to encourage and strengthen the parent-child relationship by, among other things, scheduling visitation and referring the mother to various programs (see Matter of Sheila G., 61 NY2d 368, 384 [1984]), the mother failed to comply with mental health services and failed to address the issues that interfered with her ability to care for the children (see Matter of Laqua'sha Renee G. [Sheila Renee M.], 94 AD3d 625, 625 [1st Dept 2012]). The court properly relied on past findings of neglect and could draw a negative inference from the mother's failure to testify (see Matter of Devante S., 51 AD3d 482 [1st Dept 2008]).

The appeals from the dispositional portion of the orders have been rendered moot by the adoption of the children by their respective foster parents. Were we to review those parts of the orders, we would find that a preponderance of the evidence supports the court's findings that it is in the children's best interests to terminate the mother's parental rights and free them for adoption (see Matter of Star Leslie W., 63 NY2d 136, 147-148 [1984]).

THIS CONSTITUTES THE DECISION AND ORDER OF THE SUPREME COURT, APPELLATE DIVISION, FIRST DEPARTMENT.

ENTERED: OCTOBER 16, 2012

CLERK

20121016

© 1992-2012 VersusLaw Inc.



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