In the Interest of: JANE DOE, A Child Under Eighteen (18) Years of Age.
JANE DOE I (2017-5), Respondent-Appellant. IDAHO DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND WELFARE, Petitioner-Respondent,
Opinion No. 26
from the Magistrate Division of the District Court of the
First Judicial District, State of Idaho, Bonner County. Hon.
A. Lynne Krogh, Magistrate.
K. Whitney, Bonner County Public Defender; Catherine E.
Enright, Deputy Public Defender, Sandpoint, for appellant.
Catherine E. Enright argued.
Lawrence G. Wasden, Attorney General; Denise L. Rosen, Deputy
Attorney General, Coeur d'Alene, for respondent. Denise
L. Rosen argued.
Doe I (2017-5) appeals from a judgment terminating her
parental rights. For the reasons set forth below, we affirm.
a significant history of drug use, including methamphetamine
and prescription pain medications, accompanied by multiple
periods of sobriety and relapse. In 2013, Doe was arrested
and charged for being in possession of a large quantity of
methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia. Doe, who had been
released pending trial, became pregnant but did not learn of
the pregnancy until January 2014. Doe continued using drugs
until she was arrested on a federal warrant in March 2014.
Doe pled guilty to one count of possession with intent to
distribute methamphetamine in federal court and, in exchange
for her guilty plea, Doe's state and other federal
charges were dismissed.
August 2014, Doe gave birth to a child while in custody and
awaiting sentencing. A petition under the Child Protective
Act was filed, a shelter care hearing was held, and the child
was placed in the legal custody of the Idaho Department of
Health and Welfare. In September 2014, Doe was sentenced to a
term of sixty months and to an additional five years of
supervised release. In October 2014, a case plan was
developed for the potential reunification of Doe and the
child. In early 2015, the child was transitioned to the same
foster family that had previously adopted the child's
petition to terminate Doe's parental rights was filed
June 30, 2016, and an amended petition was filed in August
2016. Doe remained incarcerated until her release from
residential drug treatment to a residential re-entry facility
in August 2016. At the
termination trial, evidence and testimony was submitted
relating to Doe's history, case plan progress,
relationship with the child, and the child's special
needs. Following the trial, the magistrate made extensive
findings of fact and conclusions of law, ultimately ruling
that there was clear and convincing evidence that Doe had
neglected the child as defined under both I.C. §
16-2002(3)(a) and (b) and that termination was in the
child's best interests. Final judgment terminating
Doe's parental rights was entered on January 20, 2017.
Doe appeals, challenging the magistrate's findings that
Doe had neglected the child and that termination was in the
child's best interests.
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 ...