In the Interest of DOE CHILDREN, Children Under Eighteen (18) Years of Age.
JOHN DOE (2017-4), Respondent-Appellant. IDAHO DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND WELFARE, Petitioner-Respondent,
Opinion No. 62
from the District Court of the Fourth Judicial District,
State of Idaho, Ada County. Hon. Andrew Ellis, Magistrate
court judgment terminating parental rights, affirmed.
County Public Defender's Office, Boise, for appellant.
Lawrence G. Wasden, Idaho Attorney General, Boise, for
ON THE BRIEFS
BURDICK, Chief Justice.
Doe (Doe) appeals the Ada County magistrate court's
decision terminating his parental rights. The magistrate
court terminated Doe's rights on the statutory basis of
Idaho Code section 16-2005(1), namely, that Doe is
incarcerated and is likely to remain incarcerated for a
substantial period of time during his sons'(A.C. and
S.C.) minority. The court also found termination was in the
best interests of A.C. and S.C. We affirm.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
and S.C. were taken into foster care on September 23, 2015,
after police were called to the family home due to neglect of
supervision. S.C., who was two at the time, was found
wandering in the street. S.C. was not wearing a shirt, shoes,
or socks, was wearing a dirty and full diaper, and had
injuries on his face and head. This was not the first time
S.C. had been found wandering alone in the road. A.C., who
was seven at the time, came looking for S.C. and told police
that their mom was busy getting ready to go somewhere.
Approximately thirty minutes later, mother came looking for
S.C. and A.C. Following an attempt to speak to mother and a
brief struggle, mother was arrested for Misdemeanor Injury to
Child. Because of the imminent danger caused by mother's
neglect and because Doe was incarcerated, the Department of
Health and Welfare (Department) was given temporary legal
custody of the children.
a year later, after making reasonable attempts for
reunification, the Department filed a Petition for
Termination of Parent-Child Relationship. A default
termination hearing as to mother was held on November 17,
2016, and the court terminated mother's parental rights
thereafter. On January 5, 2017, the court held Doe's
case manager at the Idaho Department of Correction (IDOC)
testified that Doe's earliest possible release date was
November 2018. The case manager
also testified that Doe had committed multiple rule
violations, including testing positive for opiates,
tattooing, and engaging in disrespectful behavior towards
staff. Doe testified to having a significant bond with his
children and his desire to retain his parental rights. He
also testified to being a drug addict and that he recognized
he would have to demonstrate he was stable and able to care
for the children before he could regain custody of them.
the hearing, on January 30, 2017, the magistrate court issued
its memorandum decision. In its decision, the court
terminated Doe's parental rights, finding that the State
"has proven by clear and convincing evidence that
grounds exist to terminate the parental rights of [Doe] to
the minor children, [A.C. and S.C.]." The court found
grounds for termination because (1) Doe "has been
incarcerated and is likely to remain so for a substantial
period of time during the child's minority, " I.C.
16-2005(1)(e); and (2) termination is in the best interests
of the children. Doe appeals.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
grounds for terminating parental rights must by proven by
clear and convincing evidence. Idaho Dep't of Health
& Welfare v. Doe, 149 Idaho 474, 478, 235 P.3d 1195,
1199 (2010). Where the trial court has explicitly applied a
clear and convincing standard, we do not reweigh the trial
court's determination of whether the evidence was clear
and convincing. In reDoe (2015-03), 159
Idaho 192, 195, 358 P.3d 77, 80 (2015). Rather, we review
whether the trial court's decision was supported by
substantial and competent evidence. Doe, 149 Idaho
at 478, 235 P.3d at 1199. "Substantial and competent
evidence is relevant evidence that a reasonable mind might
accept to support a conclusion. It is the province of the
trial court to ...