Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

In re Doe Children

Supreme Court of Idaho

November 1, 2016

In the Matter of the DOE CHILDREN, Children Under the Age of Eighteen Years.
v.
JOHN DOE (2016-27), Respondent-Appellant. IDAHO DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND WELFARE, Petitioner-Respondent,

         2016 Opinion No. 114

         Appeal from the District Court of the First Judicial District of the State of Idaho, Boundary County. Hon. Justin W. Julian, Magistrate Judge.

         The judgment of the magistrate court is affirmed.

          J. Lynn Brooks, Attorney at Law, Coeur d'Alene, for appellant.

          Hon. Lawrence G. Wasden, Attorney General, Boise, for respondent.

         ON THE BRIEFS

          HORTON, Justice.

         John 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 affirm.

         I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         John 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.

         On 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 loved ones.
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 those triggers.
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 services.

         Between 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 case plan:

1. [John Doe] shall complete a neuropsychological evaluation; and
2. [John Doe] shall complete the parenting class provided through Rawlings Community Counseling.

         The Department filed a petition to terminate Doe's parental rights on August 5, 2015.

         On March 14, 2016, Doe filed a motion pursuant to Idaho Rule of Civil Procedure 40(d)(2)[1] 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.

         The 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 proceedings.

         On 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.

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         "The 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, 193 (2010)).

         This 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.

         III. ANALYSIS

         Doe 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.

         A. The magistrate court did not abuse its discretion when it denied Doe's motion to disqualify.

         Doe's 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 ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.