In the Matter of the DOE CHILDREN, Children Under the Age of 18 Years.
JANE DOE (2016-35), Respondent-Appellant. IDAHO DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND WELFARE, Petitioner-Respondent,
Opinion No. 10
from the Magistrate Division of the District Court of the
Sixth Judicial District, State of Idaho, Bannock County. Hon.
Bryan K. Murray, Magistrate.
terminating parental rights, affirmed.
Randall D. Schulthies, Bannock County Public Defender; Sara
C. Archibald, Deputy Public Defender, Pocatello, for
Lawrence G. Wasden, Attorney General; Justin R. Seamons,
Deputy Attorney General, Pocatello, for respondent.
Doe appeals from a judgment terminating her parental rights.
For the reasons set forth below, we affirm.
FACTS AND PROCEDURE
a significant history of using numerous intoxicants,
including alcohol, marijuana, and methamphetamine. On May 9,
2015, Doe appeared at her neighbor's house intoxicated
and left her two youngest children with the neighbor indicating Doe could not
care for the children's needs. On May 11, police took Doe
into protective custody when she appeared to be disoriented
and possibly hallucinating. Doe disclosed that she had
recently used methamphetamine. The Department of Health and
Welfare declared Doe's two children in imminent danger
and they were placed in foster care. A petition under the
Child Protective Act was filed on May 12. The children were
placed into the legal custody of the Department and a
guardian ad litem for the children was appointed. A case plan
was developed to address Doe's substance abuse,
employment, mental health, and parenting in order for Doe to
acquire the necessary skills to care for and reunite her with
her children. On May 25, 2016, the Department filed a
petition for termination of Doe's parental rights. Two
days later, police arrested and charged Doe with various
crimes after an intoxicated Doe unlawfully entered a
stranger's home. The criminal charges were later
dismissed. Doe filed a motion in limine to exclude testimony
from the resident concerning circumstances related to the
dismissed criminal charges, which the magistrate denied.
During the termination hearing, the Department presented
testimony and exhibits recounting Doe's failures to
comply with the terms of her case plan. Following the
hearing, the magistrate made findings of fact and conclusions
of law, finding clear and convincing evidence that Doe had
neglected and abandoned the children and that termination was
in their best interests. An amended judgment terminating
doe's parental rights was entered on September 14, 2016.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
parent has a fundamental liberty interest in maintaining a
relationship with his or her child. Troxel v.
Granville, 530 U.S. 57, 65 (2000); Doe v.
State, 137 Idaho 758, 760, 53 P.3d 341, 343 (2002). This
interest is protected by the Fourteenth Amendment to the
United States Constitution. State v. Doe, 144 Idaho
839, 842, 172 P.3d 1114, 1117 (2007). Implicit in the
Termination of Parent and Child Relationship Act is the
philosophy that, wherever possible, family life should be
strengthened and preserved. I.C. § 16-2001(2).
Therefore, the requisites of due process must be met when
terminating the parent-child relationship. State v.
Doe, 143 Idaho 383, 386, 146 P.3d 649, 652 (2006). Due
process requires that the grounds for terminating a
parent-child relationship be proved by clear and convincing
evidence. Id. Because a fundamental liberty interest
is at stake, the United States Supreme Court has determined
that a court may terminate a parent-child relationship only
if that decision is supported by clear and convincing
evidence. Santosky v. Kramer, 455 U.S. 745, 769
(1982). See also I.C. § 16-2009; In re
Doe, 146 Idaho 759, 761-62, 203 P.3d 689, 691-92 (2009);
Doe, 143 Idaho at 386, 146 P.3d at 652.
appeal from a decision terminating parental rights, this
Court examines whether the decision is supported by
substantial and competent evidence, which means such evidence
as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a
conclusion. Doe v. Doe, 148 Idaho 243, 245-46, 220
P.3d 1062, 1064-65 (2009). The appellate court will indulge
all reasonable inferences in support of the trial court's
judgment when reviewing an order that parental rights be
terminated. Id. The Idaho Supreme Court has also
said that the substantial evidence test requires a greater
quantum of evidence in cases where the trial court's
finding must be supported by clear and convincing evidence
than in cases where a mere preponderance is required. Doe
v. Doe, 143 Idaho 343, 346, 144 P.3d 597, 600 (2006).
Clear and convincing evidence is generally understood to be
evidence indicating that the thing to be proved is highly
probable or reasonably certain. In re Doe, 143 Idaho
188, 191, 141 P.3d 1057, 1060 (2006). Further, the
magistrate's decision must be supported by objectively
supportable grounds. Doe, 143 Idaho at 346, 144 P.3d
Code Section 16-2005 permits a party to petition the court
for termination of the parent-child relationship when it is
in the child's best interests and any one of the
following five factors exist: (a) abandonment; (b) neglect or
abuse; (c) lack of a biological relationship between the
child and a presumptive parent; (d) the parent is unable to
discharge parental responsibilities for a prolonged period
that will be injurious to the health, morals, or well-being
of the child; or (e) the parent is incarcerated and will
remain incarcerated for a substantial period of time. Each
statutory ground is an independent basis for termination.
Doe, 144 Idaho at 842, 172 P.3d at 1117.