An unpublished opinion of the North Carolina Court of Appeals does not constitute controlling legal authority. Citation is disfavored, but may be permitted in accordance with the provisions of Rule 30(e)(3) of the North Carolina Rules of Appellate Proced ure.

NO. COA04-505


Filed: 19 April 2005

                                      Robeson County
L.M.B.L.                                 Nos. 03 J 194-195
    Minor Children

    Appeal by respondent-mother from orders entered 17 November 2003 by Judge J. Stanley Carmical in Robeson County District Court. Heard in the Court of Appeals 11 April 2005.

    No brief filed by petitioner appellee.

    Susan J. Hall for respondent-mother appellant.

    McCULLOUGH, Judge.

    The mother of two juveniles appeals from orders terminating her parental rights.
    The sole issue presented is whether the court abused its discretion by denying her motion to continue the termination of parental rights hearing.
    The petitions to terminate parental rights were filed on 29 April 2003. The hearing on the petitions was scheduled to occur on 26 September 2003. At the call of the case for hearing, respondent's counsel appeared and requested to continue the hearing because respondent was not present. He expressed concern that she may have believed that the hearing was scheduled for 26 October 2003 because he mistakenly entered that date on a letter he mailedto her. The court permitted counsel to call respondent. Counsel reported back to the court that he did call respondent, who indicated that she was aware of the hearing that day and that she was not present because her father failed to bring her. The court denied the motion to continue and proceeded to conduct the termination of parental rights hearing.
    The governing statute with regard to continuances in a juvenile matter is N.C. Gen. Stat. § 7B-803 (2003), which provides:
            The court may, for good cause, continue the hearing for as long as is reasonably required to receive additional evidence, reports, or assessments that the court has requested, or other information needed in the best interests of the juvenile and to allow for a reasonable time for the parties to conduct expeditious discovery. Otherwise, continuances shall be granted only in extraordinary circumstances when necessary for the proper administration of justice or in the best interests of the juvenile.

A motion to continue is ordinarily addressed to the discretion of the trial judge, whose ruling will not be disturbed in the absence of a showing of an abuse of discretion. State v. Beck, 346 N.C. 750, 756, 487 S.E.2d 751, 755 (1997). If the motion to continue raises a constitutional issue, then the court's ruling involves a question of law and is fully reviewable. State v. Jones, 342 N.C. 523, 530-31, 467 S.E.2d 12, 17 (1996).
    In the case of In re Mitchell, 148 N.C. App. 483, 488, 559 S.E.2d 237, 241, reversed on other grounds, 356 N.C. 288, 570 S.E.2d 212 (2002), this Court held that the denial of a motion to continue grounded on the mother's failure to attend the hearing dueto lack of transportation did not deny the parent her rights to due process or to parent her children. In that case, the mother's attorney informed the court that the mother told him the day before the hearing that she was going to be unable to attend the hearing, because the person who was going to transport her had a conflicting appointment. This Court concluded that the mother's absence was voluntary and due to her own negligence in failing to obtain adequate transportation. We further noted that respondent-mother's attorney had been representing her for three years in the matter, and we saw “no possibility that respondent was unfairly surprised or that her ability to contest the petition to terminate was prejudiced.” Id. at 487, 599 S.E.2d at 240.
    Prior orders in the case at bar show that counsel had been representing respondent in this matter at least since 13 February 2002, more than one year in advance of the filing of the present petitions. We can find nothing in the record to show that respondent was unfairly surprised by any lack of notice or that her ability to contest the petition was prejudiced by her absence. We do not find any extraordinary circumstances to mandate the granting of the continuance.
    The orders terminating parental rights are
    Chief Judge MARTIN and Judge CALABRIA concur.
    Report per Rule 30(e).    

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