Supreme Court Seal
Supreme Court Seal
South Carolina
Judicial Department
2010-UP-506 - Erma L. v. Linda D.


In The Court of Appeals

Erma L. J. and Joe J., Jr., Respondents,


Linda D. W., Appellant.

In the interest of two minor children.

Appeal From Georgetown County
Jan B. Holmes, Family Court Judge

Unpublished Opinion No. 2010-UP-506
Submitted November 1, 2010 – Filed November 12, 2010   


C. Carter Elliott, Jr., and Robert Lucas Lumpkin, Jr., both of Georgetown, for Appellant.

Ronald James Talbert, of Andrews, for Respondents.

Louis R. Morant, of Georgetown, for Guardian ad Litem.

PER CURIAM: Linda D. W. (Mother) appeals from the family court's order terminating her parental rights to her minor children (Children).  Mother argues the family court erred in terminating her parental rights pursuant to sections 63-7-2570(1) (based on the severity of abuse the home cannot be made safe within twelve months) and 63-7-2570(9) (the physical abuse of a child by a parent resulted in the death of the child and the parent was convicted of murder) of the South Carolina Code (2010).  Mother also appeals the family court's finding termination of parental rights (TPR) was in Children's best interests.  We disagree.[1] 

1.  We affirm the family court's finding that based on the severity of the abuse Mother inflicted on her oldest child, it is not reasonably likely Mother's home can be made safe within twelve months.  See S.C. Code Ann. § 63-7-2570 (2010) (stating the family court may order TPR upon finding one or more of eleven statutory grounds is satisfied and also finding TPR is in the best interest of the child); § 63-7-2570(1) ("The child . . . in the home has been harmed as defined in [s]ection 63-7-20, and because of the severity or repetition of the abuse or neglect, it is not reasonably likely that the home can be made safe within twelve months.  In determining the likelihood that the home can be made safe, the parent's previous abuse or neglect of the child or another child in the home may be considered."); S.C Code Ann. § 63-7-20(4) (2010) (stating "child abuse or neglect" occurs when the parent "inflicts or allows to be inflicted upon the child physical or mental injury or engages in acts or omissions which present a substantial risk of physical or mental injury to the child").

2.  We affirm the family court's finding that Mother's physical abuse of her oldest child resulted in the death of that child and Mother pled guilty to second-degree murder in North Carolina.  See § 63-7-2570(9) ("The physical abuse of a child of the parent resulted in the death . . . of that child and the abuse is the act for which the parent has been convicted of or pled guilty . . . to committing, aiding, abetting, conspiring to commit, or soliciting an offense against the person as provided for in Title 16, Chapter 3, criminal domestic violence as defined in Section 16-25-20, criminal domestic violence of a high and aggravated nature as defined in Section 16-25-65, or the common law offense of assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature.").

 3.  Despite Mother's arguments to the contrary, we find clear and convincing evidence supports the finding that termination of Mother's parental rights was in the best interests of Children.  See S.C. Code Ann. § 63-7-2620 (2010) (explaining when the child's interests and the parental rights conflict, the child's interests shall prevail); Charleston County Dep't of Soc. Servs. v. King, 369 S.C. 96, 105, 631 S.E.2d 239, 244 (2006) ("When reviewing the family court decision, appellate courts may make their own conclusions of whether DSS proved by clear and convincing evidence that parental rights should be terminated."); Charleston County Dep't of Soc. Servs. v. Jackson, 368 S.C. 87, 95, 627 S.E.2d 765, 770 (stating despite the appellate court's broad scope of review, it should not necessarily disregard the findings of the family court, which was in a better position to evaluate the credibility of the witnesses and to assign weight to their testimony); Id. at 102, 627 S.E.2d at 774 (declaring the best interests of the children are the paramount consideration in a TPR case).


FEW, C.J., KONDUROS, J., and CURETON, A.J., concur.

[1] We decide this case without oral argument pursuant to Rule 215, SCACR.