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1. Appeal and Error-_appellate rules violations--motion to deem brief timely served-- motion to dismiss brief_-denial of sanctions
The guardian ad litem's (GAL) motion to deem appellee GAL's brief timely served is allowed, and respondent mother's motion to dismiss GAL's brief on N.C. R. App. P. 13 grounds is denied, because: (1) this case deals with guardianship of a juvenile; and (2) respondent did not allege that she suffered any prejudice from the minimal delay in being served with the GAL's brief.
2. Appeal and Error--notice of appearance of counsel--appellate counsel
The guardian ad litem's (GAL) attorney is properly appearing in a juvenile guardianship case because while there is no order in the record naming the GAL's current counsel as appellate counsel, both respondent and the GAL agree that a notice of appearance of counsel was filed at the Court of Appeals.
3. Appeal and Error--appellate rules violations--statement of facts
Respondent mother's motion to dismiss the guardian ad litem's (GAL) brief and motion to strike portions of GAL's brief on N.C. R. App. P. 28 grounds in a juvenile guardianship case is denied even though respondent contends the statement of facts includes information not found by the trial court and allegedly contains misrepresentations regarding the underlying facts of the case, because: (1) the rule does not limit a party's ability to make reference to facts supported by the evidence but not specifically found by the trial court to be able to provide the Court of Appeals with a thorough picture of the circumstances and events that led to appeal; (2) respondent cites no authority, and none was found, which limited a party's statement of facts to those found by the trial court; and (3) the GAL's statement of facts was supported by both the transcript and record on appeal.
4. Appeal and Error-_appellate rules violations--denial of sanctions
Respondent mother's motion to dismiss and strike petitioner appellee DSS's brief on N.C. R. App. P. 13 grounds is denied, because: (1) this case deals with juvenile guardianship; and (2) respondent did not allege that she suffered any prejudice from the delay in being served with DSS's brief.
5. Appeal and Error--appellate rules violations--affidavit striken--matters in brief
The portions of DSS's brief that provides and cites to an affidavit not included in the record on appeal in a juvenile guardianship case is stricken, because: (1) N.C. R. App. P. 9 provides that matters discussed in the brief outside the record are not properly considered on appeal since the record imports verity and binds the reviewing court; and (2) contrary to DSS's assertion that it would have to provide documents omitted from the settled record, N.C. R. App. P. 28(d)(3)(a) only addresses information from a transcript that must be included in an appendix, there is no reference in the rule to information omitted from the record, and DSS's argument was unsupported by any rule of appellate procedure.
6. Child Abuse and Neglect--permanency planning order--subject matter jurisdiction
The trial court had authority to enter its permanency planning order in a juvenile guardianship case even though the nonsecure custody order and summons were issued before the juvenile petition was signed and verified, because: (1) the juvenile petition was eventually signed and verified by a DSS representative; and (2) once this occurred on 19 August 2004, the trial court gained subject matter jurisdiction and could properly act on this matter from that day forward.
7. Child Abuse and Neglect_-permanency planning hearing--failure to conduct
hearing within twelve months of original custody order
The trial court did not commit reversible error in a juvenile guardianship case by failing to conduct the permanency planning hearing within twelve months of the date of the original custody order, because: (1) an appellant must prove prejudice to warrant reversal for a violation of N.C.G.S. § 7B-907(e) which governs time lines for filing petitions to terminate parental rights, and the Court of Appeals concluded the same must be proven for N.C.G.S. § 7B-907(a) which is applicable in the instant case; (2) had the permanency planning hearing been held in August when respondent contends it should have been held, respondent's living situation would have been less stable since the hearing would have occurred during respondent's transition from her old home to her new one, and further respondent never testified that she had room or space for the pertinent minor in her new home; (3) although more recent evidence was presented at the hearing, the trial court made no findings regarding the minor's half-siblings' alleged change in their position on their permanent placement, and there was no evidence presented that the GAL or DSS changed their recommendation on the minor's placement based on anything that occurred after the twelve-month time frame had expired; and (4) while the court included a finding that respondent had prematurely left a scheduled visit with the juveniles three weeks before the hearing, absent this finding, there remained ample evidence to support the trial court's determination.
8. Child Abuse and Neglect--permanency planning order--sufficiency of findings of
The trial court did not err in a juvenile guardianship case by allegedly failing to make sufficient findings of fact to support its permanency planning order as required by N.C.G.S. § 7B-907(b), because: (1) this section of the juvenile code does not require a permanency planning order to contain a formal listing of the N.C.G.S. § 7B-907(b)(1)-(6) factors as long as the trial court makes findings of fact on the relevant § 7B-907(b) factors; (2) the trial court considered all the relevant § 7B-907(b) criteria and made appropriate findings in its order; and (3) with respect to respondent's argument that the trial court did not make any findings under § 7B-907(b)(5), there was no permanent plan with which DSS had to comply since this was the initial permanency planning hearing.
9. Child Abuse and Neglect--permanency planning order--visitation
The trial court erred in a juvenile guardianship case by determining in its permanency planning order that visitation between the juvenile and the mother shall be supervised by the custodians and shall be in the discretion of the custodians but shall not be unreasonably prevented, and the case is remanded to the trial court to issue a new order on visitation, because: (1) the exercise of this judicial function may not be delegated by the court to the custodian of the child; and (2) when the discretion to provide visitation is granted to the custodian of a child, it may result in a complete denial of the right.
10. Child Abuse and Neglect--permanency planning order--considering and incorporating reports and summaries as finding of fact
The trial court did not err in a juvenile guardianship case by considering and incorporating reports and summaries from DSS and from the GAL as findings of fact in its permanency planning order, because: (1) when conducting a juvenile proceeding, the trial court is permitted to consider all materials including written reports that have been submitted in connection with the proceeding, although the trial court may not delegate its fact finding duty; and (2) the trial court properly incorporated DSS and GAL reports, properly made findings of fact included in the order based on these reports, these findings are sufficient to support the trial court's ultimate determination, and there was no evidence the trial court relied on information from the reports that it then failed to include as a finding of fact in its order.
11. Child Abuse and Neglect--permanency planning order--failure to comply with
previous court orders--keep mother's boyfriend away from minor
The trial court did not err in a juvenile guardianship case by relying on prior court orders, DSS reports, and GAL reports to find that respondent mother has not complied with previous orders of the court to keep the minor away from respondent's boyfriend who was a sex offender from another state and living with the mother, because: (1) although respondent correctly asserts that no new evidence was presented at the hearing regarding her current relationship with her boyfriend and his presence around the minor, the finding merely indicated that respondent had not previously complied with court orders requiring her to eliminate contact between her boyfriend and the minor, thus recognizing that respondent placed the importance of her relationship with her boyfriend above the welfare of her child; and (2) even if the trial court included this finding in error, there remained sufficient evidence through court documents in the record and by testimony at the hearing to support the trial court's ultimate determination that the permanent plan for the minor should be a change of custody to the grandparents of the minor's half siblings.
12. Child Abuse and Neglect--permanency planning order--psychological evaluation
The trial court did not abuse its discretion in a juvenile guardianship case by ordering respondent mother to undergo a psychological evaluation and by finding that she had not previously complied with the trial court's order directing such an evaluation because of: (1) the serious nature of the allegations, respondent's concession that her daughter was neglected, and the Court of Appeals' holding in In re Cogdill, 137 N.C. App. 504 (2000); and (2) respondent's own testimony that she failed to comply with the court's previous order that she undergo a psychological or psychiatric evaluation and comply with the recommendations of the evaluator.
Jeffrey L. Miller for Respondent-Appellant.
E.B. Borden Parker for Petitioner-Appellee.
Amanda A. Volz for Guardian ad Litem-Appellee.
Respondent-Appellant (Respondent) is the mother of L.B., the juvenile who is the subject of this appeal. (See footnote 1) By a nonsecure custody order dated 17 August 2004, L.B. was taken into physical custody by the Wayne County Department of Social Services (DSS). The nonsecure custody order was based on a juvenile petition, signed and verified on 19 August 2004, alleging that L.B. was neglected in that she lives in an environment injurious to [her] welfare[,] and dependent in that her parent, guardian, or custodian is unable to provide for [her] care or supervision and lacks an appropriate alternative child care arrangement. In particular, the petition alleged, inter alia, that
there was a sexual offender . . . living in the home and mother lied to law enforcement to protect him. . . . During the time of DSS investigation it was learned that L.B. was being medicated by the mother with the mother's medication. After the child was seen and prescribed her [own] medication mother was using L.B.'s medication as well as her own to double medicate the child. DSS has confirmed that Josh Ryan a known sex offender from Illinois has been residing in the home. According to what DSS has learned L.B. has had emotional problems since Josh has been involved with the mother. . . . L.B. indicated that she feels uncomfortable in the presence of Josh and is afraid of how he will react. L.B. states that Josh has sungsexually explicit songs in her presence and made statements to her such as he is tired of being a screw buddy with her mother.
L.B. currently lives with Steven and Doris Johnson, R.B.'s paternal grandfather and paternal step-grandmother, with whom she was placed in custody by order filed 23 December 2004. On 27 October 2005, a permanency planning hearing was held before the Honorable R. Les Turner in Wayne County District Court. At that hearing, the evidence tended to show the following:
Tammy Oxendine, a foster care social worker for DSS, testified that during a previous hearing, on 8 August 2005, Respondent provided DSS with her alleged home address and a telephone number for her employer. However, when Ms. Oxendine attempted to verify this information, she learned that Respondent did not live at the address she provided, and that her employer's phone had been disconnected. Ms. Oxendine testified further that she had had contact with Respondent since the 8 August 2005 hearing, but Respondent never informed her that her address had changed or that her employer's phone had been disconnected.
Respondent testified that she had provided DSS her current address and that she has received mail from DSS at her current residence. She also indicated that she provided DSS with her telephone contact numbers, including a number for a cellular phone. Her new residence, in which she has lived for four months, has three bedrooms, a living room, a kitchen, and a bathroom. It is a wood and brick structure and she lives in the home with her father, when he is in Wayne County. Respondent testified that R.B. andA.M. each would have their own bedroom in the house, but Respondent omitted any reference to a bedroom in the house for L.B. Respondent testified further that she works at a laundry business called the Laundry Room, and that Ms. Oxendine could not locate the business because it is in the process of relocating to Wilson County. Although the Laundry Room is changing locations, Respondent's continued employment has been confirmed by her employer. Overall, Respondent feels that she is able to care for her children.
With regard to visitation the testimony indicated that, during a supervised visit three weeks earlier, Respondent left before the visit could begin because, according to Respondent, Mrs. Johnson would not let her have any contact with the children and . . . was embarrassing her in front of other people at the park[.] During her testimony, Ms. Oxendine explained that Mrs. Johnson would not allow the children to visit with Respondent because the court had required supervised visitation and a DSS worker had yet to arrive. More generally, Ms. Oxendine indicated that [s]ome of the visits have gone very well[;] however, there have also been occasions when L.B. has not participated. At times, L.B. has informed Ms. Oxendine that she does not want to attend and, at other times, has attended but has not interacted with Respondent. During her last two visits, L.B. has informed Ms. Oxendine that she desired to be with the Johnsons. L.B. seems bonded with the Johnsons and seems to be happy to have some stability in her life. Respondent testified that she has had sporadic visits with her children, andthat her phone contact with her children has been reduced over time.
By previous court order, Respondent was required to complete individual therapy, attend anger management, complete a psychological evaluation, maintain stable housing, and maintain employment. By the time of the hearing, she had completed most requirements, but had failed to complete a psychological evaluation. Ms. Oxendine testified that she was recommending guardianship of the children, rather than reunification with Respondent, because Respondent had not completed a psychological evaluation and because she could not determine whether Respondent's housing situation was stable or whether she was employed.
With regard to the psychological evaluations, Respondent testified that, although her evaluator had difficulty acquiring information from DSS, she took a psychological test but the evaluator informed her that it wouldn't be in [her] best interest for him to submit anything. Since then, Respondent has made an appointment for a psychological evaluation with another service provider, called Eastpointe, but the woman with whom she made the appointment subsequently went on maternity leave. Respondent has taken no further action to comply with the court orders on this issue since March or April 2005.
Ms. Oxendine testified further that the agency was recommending guardianship of L.B. with the Johnsons and that although they are not blood relatives to all of the children, they do not treat L.B. or A.M. differently than they treat R.B. Atthe end of the hearing, Judge Turner entered a permanency planning order in which he determined that the permanent plan regarding L.B. would change from reunification with Respondent to guardianship with the Johnsons. From this order, Respondent appeals. We affirm the order in part, vacate the order in part, and remand the case to the trial court.
(c) If an appellee fails to file and serve his
brief within the time allowed, he may not be
heard in oral argument except by permission of
N.C. R. App. P. 13(a)(1); 13(c). In this case, Respondent's brief was served on the guardian ad litem, by mail, on 10 May 2006. Rule 27 of the North Carolina Rules of Appellate Procedure provides that [w]henever a party has the right to do some act or take some proceeding within a prescribed period after the service of a notice or other paper upon him and the notice or paper is served upon him by mail, three days shall be added to the prescribed period. N.C. R. App. P. 27(b). Therefore, under Rule 13 and Rule 27, the guardian ad litem was required to serve her brief on Respondent by 12 June 2006. The guardian ad litem's brief was timely filed in this Court, but was not served on Respondent until 26 June 2006, in clear violation of Rule 13, thus subjecting the guardian ad litem- appellee to appropriate sanctions. As this case, pursuant to Rule 30(f), was not scheduled for oral argument, the appropriate sanction under Rule 13 (disallowing oral argument of appellee whose brief is not timely filed and served) is not applicable. Therefore, we may only impose sanctions, including striking the brief, under Rule 25 and Rule 34.
This Court does not treat every violation of the Rules of Appellate Procedure with a blunt instrument that eviscerates the work of an offending attorney, and potentially harms an innocentparty. Rather, we examine violations of the Rules with a cautious eye and with the objective of promoting justice. Since this case deals with guardianship of a juvenile and because Respondent did not allege that she suffered any prejudice from the minimal delay in being served with the guardian ad litem's brief, we choose not to impose sanctions upon the guardian ad litem's counsel, although we urge her to heed the Rules of Appellate Procedure. Therefore, the guardian ad litem's Motion to Deem Appellee GAL's Brief Timely Served is allowed, and Respondent's Motion to Dismiss Guardian's Brief[,] on Rule 13 grounds, is denied.
 Next, Respondent argues that because there has been no order appointing this particular attorney to appear as appellate counsel for the guardian ad litem, her brief should be dismissed. Under the North Carolina Juvenile Code,
[w]hen in a petition a juvenile is alleged to be abused or neglected, the court shall appoint a guardian ad litem to represent the juvenile. When a juvenile is alleged to be dependent, the court may appoint a guardian ad litem to represent the juvenile. . . . The appointment shall terminate when the permanent plan has been achieved for the juvenile and approved by the court. . . . In every case where a nonattorney is appointed as a guardian ad litem, an attorney shall be appointed in the case in order to assure protection of the juvenile's legal rights throughout the proceeding.
N.C. Gen. Stat. § 7B-601(a) (2003). In this case, by order dated 30 August 2004, Tim Finan was named the attorney advocate for the juvenile. While there is no order in the record naming the guardian ad litem's current counsel as appellate counsel, both Respondent and the guardian ad litem agree that a Notice ofAppearance of Counsel was filed at this Court. Therefore, the guardian ad litem's attorney is properly appearing in this case, and Respondent's motion to dismiss the guardian ad litem's brief on this basis is likewise denied.
 Finally, Respondent argues that the guardian ad litem's brief should be dismissed or stricken in part because the statement of facts includes information not found by the trial court and contains misrepresentations regarding the underlying facts of this case.
The North Carolina Rules of Appellate Procedure require the statement of facts included in an appellate brief to contain
[a] full and complete statement of the facts. This should be a non-argumentative summary of all material facts underlying the matter in controversy which are necessary to understand all questions presented for review, supported by references to pages in the transcript of proceedings, the record on appeal, or exhibits, as the case may be.
N.C. R. App. P. 28(b)(5). Plainly read, this Rule does not limit a party's ability to make reference to facts, supported by the evidence but not specifically found by the trial court, to be able to provide this Court with a thorough picture of the circumstances and events that led to the appeal. Additionally, Respondent cites no authority, and our research reveals none, which limits a party's statement of facts to those found by the trial court. Because the guardian ad litem's statement of facts is supported by both the transcript and Record on Appeal, we believe that the brief conforms to the guidelines established by Rule 28. Accordingly, Respondent's Motion to Dismiss Guardian's Brief; Motion to StrikePortions of Guardian's Brief[,] on Rule 28 grounds, is also denied.
 On 23 August 2006, Respondent also filed a Motion to Dismiss and Strike Petitioner-Appellee DSS' [sic] Brief[.] In support of this motion, Respondent contends that because the brief submitted by DSS was not timely filed or served, and no extension of time for filing was granted by the Court of Appeals[,] the brief should be stricken and dismissed. We are not persuaded to take this drastic action.
Respondent's brief was served on DSS, by mail, on 10 May 2006. Therefore, under Rule 13 and Rule 27, DSS was required to serve its brief on Respondent by 12 June 2006. However, DSS's brief was not filed in this Court until 3 July 2006 and was not served on Respondent until 30 June 2006, in clear violation of Rule 13, thus subjecting DSS to appropriate sanctions. Once again, however, as this case was not scheduled for oral argument, the appropriate sanction under Rule 13 is not applicable. Therefore, we may only impose sanctions, including striking the brief, under Rule 25 and Rule 34.
While this Court takes violations of the appellate rules very seriously, because this case deals with guardianship of a juvenile and because Respondent did not allege that she suffered any prejudice from the delay in being served with DSS's brief, we choose not to impose sanctions upon DSS's counsel. However, we caution DSS's attorney that the proper approach would have been to move the Court for an extension of time in which to file and servethe brief or, alternatively, to move the Court to deem the brief timely filed and served. Respondent's Motion to Dismiss and Strike Petitioner-Appellee DSS' [sic] Brief[,] on Rule 13 grounds, is denied.
 In the same motion, Respondent argues that because DSS provides and cites to an affidavit not included in the Record on Appeal, DSS's brief should be dismissed or stricken in part. We agree.
Rule 9 of the North Carolina Rules of Appellate Procedure states:
In appeals from the trial division of the General Court of Justice, review is solely upon the record on appeal, the verbatim transcript of proceedings, if one is designated, constituted in accordance with this Rule 9, and any items filed with the record on appeal pursuant to Rule 9(c) and 9(d). Parties may cite to any of these items in their briefs and arguments before the appellate courts.
N.C. R. App. P. 9(a). Matters discussed in the brief outside the Record are not properly considered on appeal since the Record imports verity and binds the reviewing court. In re Norris, 65 N.C. App. 269, 274, 310 S.E.2d 25, 28 (1983) (citing State v. Hedrick, 289 N.C. 232, 221 S.E.2d 350 (1976)), cert denied, 310 N.C. 744, 315 S.E.2d 703 (1984).
In this case, at the end of its brief, DSS included as an exhibit an affidavit from Jennifer Watson, a DSS social worker. Additionally, DSS cited to this affidavit in its brief. As this affidavit was not included in the settled record, it was inappropriate, under Rule 9, for DSS to provide and then rely onthis document. In its response to the motion, DSS directs our attention to Rule 28(d)(3)(a), arguing that because DSS would have been required to provide omitted portions of a transcript, it follows that DSS could provide documents omitted from the settled record. We find DSS's argument to be without merit. Rule 28(d)(3)(a) only addresses information from a transcript that must be included in an appendix; there is no reference in the rule to information omitted from the record. Moreover, we find DSS's argument unsupported by any rule of appellate procedure. Accordingly, we strike the included affidavit and all references made to the information contained in the affidavit from DSS's brief.
19. That in describing the home where she now
lives, the mother stated that her father
stayed with her when he is in Wayne
County and that she had room for half-
siblings of this juvenile. The mother did
not mention having room or space for this
. . . .
26. That the juvenile has no interest in
having visits with the mother at this
. . . .
29. That it does not appear to the Court that
the mother has conquered her anger
. . . .
32. That the juvenile is well bonded with the
current custodians who are the
grandparents of one of the half-siblings
of this juvenile.
33. That Steven and Doris Johnson are fit and proper persons to have the continued custody of the juvenile and to be designated as the guardian of the juvenile.
34. That the petitioner recommends that the permanent plan for the juvenile be changed from reunification to placement and guardianship with Steven and Doris Johnson.
. . . .
36. That the Johnsons have added two bedrooms to their home to ensure that the juvenile and the half-siblings of the juvenile have a place with them.
These findings are sufficient to meet the requirements under N.C. Gen. Stat. § 7B-907(b). Specifically, we hold that (1) the requirements under section 7B-907(b)(1) are met by findings of fact 14, 15, 19, 26, and 29; (2) the requirements under section 7B- 907(b)(2) are met by findings of fact 32, 33, and 34; (3) the requirements under section 7B-907(b)(3) are implicitly met by findings of fact 32, 33, and 34; and (4) the requirements under section 7B-907(b)(4) are met by findings of fact 32, 33, 34, and 36.
With respect to Respondent's argument that the trial court erred by not making any findings under N.C. Gen. Stat. § 7B- 907(b)(5), we hold that because this was the initial permanency planning hearing, there was no permanent plan with which DSS had to comply. Respondent's arguments regarding the sufficiency of the trial court's findings are without merit.
 However, Respondent additionally argues that the trial court erred in the visitation decision it made, by determining [t]hat visitation between the juvenile and the mother shall be supervised by the custodians and shall be in the discretion of the custodians, but shall not be unreasonably prevented. We agree and therefore remand this case to the trial court to amend the order.
In In re Stancil, 10 N.C. App. 545, 552, 179 S.E.2d 844, 849 (1971), this Court held that when visitation rights are awarded, it is the exercise of a judicial function. We do not think thatthe exercise of this judicial function may be properly delegated by the court to the custodian of the child. The rationale underlying this decision is that when the discretion to provide visitation is granted to the custodian of a child, it may result in a complete denial of the right[.] Id. Based on the direction provided by this Court in Stancil, we hold that the trial court erred by leaving visitation within the discretion of the Johnsons. We thus vacate that portion of the court's permanency planning order and remand this case to the trial court to issue a new order on visitation between Respondent and L.B. consistent with this opinion and the Stancil holding.
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