Appeal from the Magistrate Court of the First Judicial District of the State of Idaho, Kootenai County. Hon. Clark A. Peterson, Magistrate Judge.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: W. Jones, Justice
John and Jane Doe petitioned to adopt A.H., who is Jane Doe's grandson. The magistrate dismissed the adoption petition and granted summary judgment to the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, which has legal custody of A.H., because the Department refused to consent to the adoption. The Does argue on appeal that the merits of their adoption petition create a genuine issue of material fact and that the magistrate illegally shortened the time available to respond to the Department's motion for summary judgment.
II. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
Appellant Jane Doe is the biological grandmother of A.H., a minor child, and is married to appellant John Doe I. The Does, who became A.H.'s temporary legal guardians in 2002, have cared for A.H. most of his life. A.H.'s biological parents both voluntarily consented to having
their parental rights terminated after the Does became A.H.'s guardians. The Does petitioned to adopt A.H. in 2006, but before their home study could be completed, an "incident" occurred that prompted Child Protective Services to remove A.H. from the Does' home.*fn1 In 2007, the court assumed jurisdiction over A.H. under the Idaho Child Protective Act ("CPA") and allowed the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare ("Department") to take legal custody of A.H. Ever since the Department became his custodian, A.H. has been living in a State-run community home.
In 2008, the Does again petitioned to adopt A.H., but the magistrate dismissed the petition because the Department would not consent to the adoption. The following year, the Does applied to the Department to become A.H.'s foster parents. This application was denied and the denial was affirmed by a hearing officer. The Does next requested review from the Department Director, an appeal that was pending when the Does again petitioned to adopt A.H. in April of 2010. The 2010 adoption petition, which is the basis for this appeal, was filed in a new case separate from the CPA case involving A.H. Although the new case was originally assigned to a different judge, it was reassigned to the judge presiding over the CPA proceedings. The record is unclear as to how this reassignment occurred.
In response to the 2010 petition, the Department filed a motion to dismiss under I.R.C.P. 12(b)(6) along with an affidavit by its attorney stating that the Department still would not consent to the Does adopting A.H. At a hearing thirteen days later, the magistrate court indicated that it was treating the motion to dismiss as one for summary judgment under I.R.C.P. 56(c) because it was considering the Department's affidavit. The court ruled that it had found good cause to shorten the time for notice, briefing, and for serving affidavits. It then dismissed the Does' petition on the grounds that, under any view of the facts, the court lacked the statutory authority to approve the Does' adoption petition so long as the Department refused to consent. The Does appealed to this Court pursuant to I.A.R. 11.1, contending that the magistrate court abused its discretion in shortening the time to respond to the Department's summary judgment motion, that they had insufficient notice of the hearing, and that their procedural-due-process rights have been violated.*fn2
1. Whether the magistrate court correctly granted summary judgment to the Department when it dismissed the adoption petition.
2. Whether the magistrate court abused its discretion by shortening the time for the Does to respond to the summary-judgment motion under I.R.C.P. 56(c).
3. Whether the magistrate court infringed the Does' procedural-due-process rights by shortening the time available to respond to the summary-judgment motion and by allowing insufficient ...