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In re Jahani K. (Anonymous)

Supreme Court of New York, Second Department

November 20, 2013

In the Matter of Jahani K. (Anonymous) Administration for Children's Services, petitioner- respondent; and Felicia K. (Anonymous), appellant, et al., respondent. (Proceeding No. 1) In the Matter of Ajayi K. (Anonymous) Administration for Children's Services, petitioner- respondent; and Felicia K. (Anonymous), appellant, et al., respondent. (Proceeding No. 2) Docket Nos. N-27375/10, N-27376/10

Rayaaz N. Khan, Jamaica, N.Y., for appellant.

Michael A. Cardozo, Corporation Counsel, New York, N.Y. (Larry A. Sonnenshein and Diana Lawless of counsel), for petitioner- respondent.

Steven Banks, New York, N.Y. (Tamara A. Steckler and John A. Newbery of counsel), attorney for the child Jahani K.

RANDALL T. ENG, P.J., THOMAS A. DICKERSON, CHERYL E. CHAMBERS, L. PRISCILLA HALL, JJ.

DECISION & ORDER

In related child protective proceedings pursuant to Family Court Act article 10, the mother appeals, as limited by her brief, from so much of an order of disposition of the Family Court, Queens County (Arias, J.), dated September 18, 2012, as, upon an order of fact-finding of the same court dated April 10, 2012, made after a hearing, finding that she had neglected the child Jahani K., placed the child Jahani K. in the custody of the New York City Administration for Children's Services until a permanency hearing could be conducted. The appeal from the order of disposition brings up for review the order of fact-finding.

ORDERED that on the Court's own motion, the notice of appeal from the order of fact-finding dated April 10, 2012, is deemed to be a premature notice of appeal from the order of disposition (see CPLR 5520[c]); and it is further,

ORDERED that the appeal from so much of the order of disposition as placed the child Jahani K. in the custody of the New York City Administration for Children's Services until a permanency hearing could be conducted is dismissed as academic, without costs or disbursements, since Jahani K. has been returned to the custody of the mother; and it is further,

ORDERED that the order of disposition is affirmed insofar as reviewed, without costs or disbursements.

In connection with a fact-finding hearing conducted pursuant to Family Court Act article 10, any determination that the child is abused or neglected must be based on a preponderance of the evidence (see Family Ct Act § 1046[b]; Matter of Nicole V., 71 N.Y.2d 112, 117; Matter of Tammie Z., 66 N.Y.2d 1; Matter of Dareth O., 304 A.D.2d 667, 668).

Hearsay statements detailing physical abuse, when corroborated by any other evidence tending to support their reliability, may be the basis for a finding of abuse or neglect (see Matter of Nicole V., 71 N.Y.2d at 119; Matter of Adreanna M. [ Kety M. ], 95 A.D.3d 1213, 1214; Matter of Rachel H., 60 A.D.3d 1060, 1061). The Family Court's assessment of the credibility of witnesses is entitled to considerable deference unless clearly unsupported by the record (see Matter of Irene O., 38 N.Y.2d 776; Matter of Adreanna [ Kety M. ], 95 A.D.3d 1213; Matter of Sadiq H., 81 A.D.3d 647; Matter of Rachel H., 60 A.D.3d at 1061).

The Family Court's finding that the mother neglected the child Jahani K., based on excessive corporal punishment, was supported by a preponderance of the evidence (see Family Ct Act § 1012[f][i][B]; Matter of Joseph O'D. [ Denise O'D. ], , 102 A.D.3d 874, 875; Matter of Yanni D. [ Hope J. ], 95 A.D.3d 1313, 1314; Matter of Amerriah S. [ Kadiatou Y. ], 100 A.D.3d 1006, 1007; Matter of Padmine M. [ Sandra M. ], 84 A.D.3d 806, 807; Matter of Isaiah S., 63 A.D.3d 948; Matter of Derek J., 56 A.D.3d 558). The evidence of excessive corporal punishment presented at the fact-finding hearing included the testimony of a caseworker who interviewed Jahani and observed welts and scars consistent with being hit by a cord or a belt, and the mother's testimony in which she admitted hitting Jahani with a belt, but claimed to do so for the purpose of disciplining him. In addition, Jahani's statements to the caseworker that the mother regularly hit him with a cord or belt were corroborated by the evidence (see Matter of Nicole V., 71 N.Y.2d at 119; Matter of Adreanna M. [ Kety M. ], 95 A.D.3d at 1214; Matter of Rachel H., 60 A.D.3d at 1061).

Contrary to the mother's contentions, photographs of Jahani's bruises taken by an agency caseworker, and certified hospital records of Jahani's medical examination following this incident, were properly admitted in evidence (see Family Ct Act § 1046[a][iv]).

The mother's remaining contentions are without merit.

ENG, P.J., DICKERSON, CHAMBERS and HALL, JJ., concur.


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