In the Matter of the DOE CHILDREN, Children Under the Age of Eighteen Years.
JOHN DOE (2016-27), Respondent-Appellant. IDAHO DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND WELFARE, Petitioner-Respondent,
Opinion No. 114
from the District Court of the First Judicial District of the
State of Idaho, Boundary County. Hon. Justin W. Julian,
judgment of the magistrate court is affirmed.
Lynn Brooks, Attorney at Law, Coeur d'Alene, for
Lawrence G. Wasden, Attorney General, Boise, for respondent.
Doe appeals from the magistrate court's judgment
terminating his parental rights to his son, J.M. The
magistrate court determined that it was in J.M.'s best
interests to terminate Doe's parental rights under Idaho
Code sections 16-2005(1)(b) and (d) because there was clear
and convincing evidence that Doe had neglected J.M pursuant
to Idaho Code section 16-2002(3)(b), and/or Doe would be
unable to discharge his parental responsibilities for a
prolonged indeterminate period of time, which would be
injurious to J.M's health, morals, or well-being. We
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
Doe and Mother are the natural parents of J.M, an
eight-year-old boy. John Doe and Mother have had a sporadic
and volatile relationship for approximately ten years. During
that time, both John Doe and Mother used methamphetamine and
other controlled substances and committed acts of domestic
violence upon each other. Mother has three children; however,
this appeal deals only with the termination of John Doe's
parental rights to J.M.
March 13, 2014, the Boundary County Prosecuting Attorney
filed a petition under the Child Protective Act and a motion
for an order for removal of children from Mother's care.
The magistrate court ordered J.M. removed from Mother's
care and a shelter care hearing was set for March 14, 2016.
Doe stipulated to J.M. being placed in the legal custody of
the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare (the Department)
based upon an unstable home environment. The magistrate court
held a case plan hearing and on April 28, 2014, Doe
stipulated to the case plan and alternate care plan. The case
plan provided in pertinent part:
1. [John Doe] shall complete the Life Skills class he is
currently participating in and shall demonstrate the tools he
has learned through the way he communicates to and treats his
2. [John Doe] shall fully engage with mental health treatment
with a Department approved therapist. [Doe] shall demonstrate
the tools he has gained through his ability to control his
temper and the manner which he communicates his needs and
frustrations. [Doe] shall further be able to identify his
triggers that cause him to turn to violence and the tools he
gains to change his thinking and behavior processes with
3. [John Doe] shall submit to random UA testing or hair
follicle testing at the discretion of the Department and the
approved testing facility of the Department. "NO
SHOWS" or [dilute] tests results will be considered a
positive for substances.
4. [John Doe] shall provide [J.M.] with a safe and stable
home environment including appropriate sleeping
accommodations and an adequately clean house. [Doe] shall
ensure that [J.M.'s] educational needs are met and that
he is supervised by a safe adult at all times. [Doe] shall
not allow adults who are actively using illicit drugs or who
are unsafely inebriated to be in his home with [J.M.]
present. [Doe] shall ensure [J.M.] is not exposed to illicit
drugs in any manner. [Doe] shall allow the Department to have
unannounced visits to his home in order to assess the
conditions of his homes to insure [J.M.'s] safety.
5. [John Doe] shall sign all necessary releases for the
Department to have collateral contract with his treatment
providers through this child protection case. [Doe] shall
further sign releases for the Department to receive all
psychological assessment results, Life Skills assessment
results and any other assessment results that are pertinent
to [Doe's] mental health and addiction treatment
October 7, 2014, and June 2, 2015, the magistrate court held
a series of review hearings and permanency hearings. At the
first review hearing held on October 7, 2014, the magistrate
court ordered that two additional tasks be added to Doe's
1. [John Doe] shall complete a neuropsychological evaluation;
2. [John Doe] shall complete the parenting class provided
through Rawlings Community Counseling.
Department filed a petition to terminate Doe's parental
rights on August 5, 2015.
March 14, 2016, Doe filed a motion pursuant to Idaho Rule of
Civil Procedure 40(d)(2) to disqualify the magistrate judge due
to bias. Doe's motion was based on a statement made by
the magistrate judge to Doe at a hearing in an unrelated
criminal case on January 29, 2016, when Doe made his initial
appearance in connection with his alleged failure to complete
a Sheriff's Inmate Labor Program:
COURT: Alright [Doe], that's quite enough out of you.
Whatever credibility you previously had, it's gone now,
so you've got fourteen days to serve.
magistrate court denied Doe's motion to disqualify,
concluding that the full context of the statement narrowed
its application to the criminal case and that no bias or
prejudice was apparent or carried over into other
March 23-24, 2016, the magistrate court held a trial and on
June 13, 2016, the magistrate court filed its memorandum
opinion explaining why it was terminating Doe's parental
rights. The magistrate court concluded that it was in
J.M.'s best interests to terminate Doe's parental
rights under Idaho Code sections 16-2005(1)(b) and (d)
because there was clear and convincing evidence that Doe had
neglected J.M pursuant to Idaho Code section 16-2002(3)(b),
and/or Doe would be unable to discharge his parental
responsibilities for a prolonged indeterminate period of
time. Doe timely appealed.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
trial court must find that grounds for terminating parental
rights have been proved by clear and convincing
evidence." Dep't of Health & Welfare v.
Doe, 149 Idaho 207, 210, 233 P.3d 138, 141 (2010);
see also I.C. § 16-2009. "Clear and
convincing evidence is evidence that indicates the thing to
be proved is highly probable or reasonably certain."
In re Doe (2014-17), 157 Idaho 694, 699, 339 P.3d
755, 760 (2014). "This Court must 'conduct an
independent review of the magistrate court record, but must
draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the magistrate
court's judgment, as the magistrate court has the
opportunity to observe witnesses' demeanor, to assess
their credibility, to detect prejudice or motive and to judge
the character of the parties.' " In re Doe
(2014-23), 157 Idaho 920, 923, 342 P.3d 632, 635 (2015)
(quoting Doe v. Doe, 150 Idaho 46, 49, 244 P.3d 190,
Court "will not disturb the magistrate court's
decision to terminate parental rights if there is
substantial, competent evidence in the record to support the
decision." In re Doe (2014-17), 157 Idaho at
699, 339 P.3d at 760 (quoting Idaho Dep't Health
& Welfare v. Doe, 150 Idaho 36, 41, 244 P.3d 180,
185 (2010)). "Substantial, competent evidence is
evidence that a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to
support a conclusion." Id.
argues: (1) the magistrate court erred when it denied
Doe's motion to disqualify the magistrate judge pursuant
to Idaho Rule of Civil Procedure 40(d)(2)(A); (2) the
magistrate court made numerous evidentiary errors; (3) the
magistrate court erred by considering matters outside of the
record; and, (4) the magistrate court's decision was not
supported by substantial and competent evidence. These issues
are addressed in turn.
The magistrate court did not abuse its discretion when it
denied Doe's motion to disqualify.
motion was based a statement made by the magistrate judge to
Doe at a hearing in an unrelated criminal case on a bench
warrant issued due to Doe's ...