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In re A.H.

District of Columbia Court of Appeals
842 A.2d 674 (2004)


D.H. (defendant) resided in public housing with her mother and D.H.’s five young children. D.H. received public assistance. Neither she nor her mother was employed. Between January 2000 and May 2000, Vivian Norris, the property manager for D.H.’s residence, visited the home three times. Norris found the home to be filthy, with roach-infested food and feces exposed. She also saw that D.H.’s gas oven was turned on, the burners lit, and the oven door while D.H.’s children played in the kitchen. The children were naked or barely clothed but did not appear ill or malnourished. In response to the state of the home, D.H. claimed that the heat did not work and that the toilet was stopped up. She had never reported such problems. According to Norris, D.H. seemed “nonchalant” about the situation. Norris reported the family to the Child and Family Services Agency (CFSA) (plaintiff). A CFSA social worker, Kimberly Kellerhouse, visited D.H.’s home three times during the week of June 20, 2000. She found the home to be in a deplorably filthy and roach-infested state on all three occasions. Neither the heat nor the refrigerator functioned. Kellerhouse witnessed D.H. ignore her crying baby and threaten her children with a belt. According to Kellerhouse, D.H. seemed apathetic to the home environment. On June 29, 2000, the CFSA removed D.H.’s children from the home and filed a petition to find D.H. liable for neglect. Norris and Kellerhouse both testified at trial. D.H. testified in her defense that she cleaned regularly and purchased fresh food daily. She also stated that the children managed without heat, that they were healthy and had proper clothing, and that the older ones attended school. No evidence was offered to show that the financial assistance received by D.H. was insufficient to maintain an adequate home environment. The judge found that the children were neglected, that D.H. was partially at fault, and that she showed a lack of concern or awareness about the severity of the problem. D.H. appealed.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Glickman, J.)

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