In re C.C.G., 380 N.C. 23 (2022)

  • Facts:  The juvenile was adjudicated neglected. At a permanency planning hearing, the court ordered no visitation for mother and concurrent permanent plans of adoption and custody or guardianship. DSS filed a TPR petition. At the TPR hearing, mother was not present and her attorney requested a continuance, which was denied. The TPR was granted and mother appeals, challenging the denial of her motion to continue, noncompliance with the requirements of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ACT), and the denial of visits in the permanency planning order. This summary focuses on the motion to continue.
  • A motion to continue is reviewed for an abuse of discretion, unless a constitutional issue is raised (which was not the case here). The respondent must show the denial was erroneous and she was prejudiced as a result of the denial. The respondent also has the burden of showing the grounds for a continuance existed, which for a TPR requires “extraordinary circumstances when necessary for the proper administration of justice.” G.S. 7B-1109(d).
  • Mother asserts she did not receive notice of the hearing. Mother was represented by an attorney and had a Rule 17 GAL appointed to her. Notice was sent to both her attorney and GAL, both of whom were present for the TPR hearing. Mother did not meet her burden, when offering to the trial court only unsworn statements and argument from her attorney and GAL that a continuance was needed since mother was not present. Mother did not show prejudice, as no assertion that mother intended to testify and no offer of proof of her potential testimony was made. There is nothing to show the testimony would have impacted the outcome.
Termination of Parental Rights
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