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In re Doe

Supreme Court of Idaho

June 29, 2017

In the Matter of JOHN DOE, A Child Under Eighteen Years of Age.
v.
JANE DOE (2017-3), Respondent-Appellant. IDAHO DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND WELFARE, Petitioner-Respondent,

         2017 Opinion No. 75

         Appeal from the District Court of the Third Judicial District of the State of Idaho, Canyon County. Hon. A. Lynne Krogh, Senior Magistrate Judge.

         The judgment of the magistrate court is affirmed.

          Canyon County Public Defender's Office, Caldwell, for appellant.

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

          ON THE BRIEFS

          HORTON, Justice.

         This case was previously before this Court in In Matter of Doe (2016-14), 161 Idaho 596, 389 P.3d 141 (2016). There, we vacated the judgment terminating Jane Doe's parental rights to her son M.R. and remanded the case for further findings of fact and conclusions of law. On remand, the magistrate court again terminated Doe's parental rights. The magistrate court found that M.R. was neglected as defined by Idaho Code sections 16-2002(3)(a) and 16-2002(3)(b) and that Doe's compliance with her case plan was not impossible. Doe timely appealed. We affirm.

         I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         Doe has a long history of involvement with the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare (the Department), beginning in 2000. Doe was removed from her biological parents in 2000 and 2004 for physical abuse. The abuse resulted in head wounds and scarring and necessitated surgeries. Doe later disclosed sexual abuse by her parents. Her parents consented to termination of their parental rights to Doe in 2004. Doe turned eighteen while in foster care, aging out of the system. Doe gave birth to M.R. in 2011 and-despite the earlier termination of her legal relationship with her parents-began living with M.R. in a separate residence on her parents' property.

         In August of 2012, Doe was arrested for aggravated assault. M.R. was sixteen months old at the time of her arrest. Upon her incarceration, Doe "signed over temporary guardianship" of M.R. to her parents. Doe was eventually sentenced to serve five years, with two years fixed, and the court retained jurisdiction. Doe was unsuccessful on her rider. In June of 2014, the district court relinquished jurisdiction because of Doe's "aggressive behavior" while in prison. Doe testified that the earliest that she may be released is in May of 2017.[1] At that time, M.R. will be six years old. He has not been in Doe's care since her arrest.

         In October of 2014, M.R. came into the care of the Department because of physical abuse of another child in Doe's parents' home. A case plan was approved in December of 2014, which included tasks that Doe was to complete while incarcerated. Doe failed to complete certain case plan requirements, specifically, counseling and a parenting class after being transferred to a different prison facility.

         On November 12, 2015, the Department filed a Petition for Termination of the Parent-Child Relationship. Following a hearing on March 21, 2016, the magistrate court found that the Department had met its burden of proving, by clear and convincing evidence, two grounds upon which termination could be granted: (1) neglect, due to Doe's failure to comply with her case plan; and (2) Doe's incarceration for a substantial portion of M.R.'s minority. The magistrate court further found, again by clear and convincing evidence, that terminating Doe's parental rights was in M.R.'s best interests.

         Doe appealed. We vacated the judgment terminating Doe's parental rights to her son M.R. and remanded the case for further findings of fact and conclusions of law on the issue of the impossibility of Doe completing her case plan. On December 16, 2016, the magistrate court issued its findings of fact and conclusions of law. The magistrate court again found by clear and convincing evidence that termination of Doe's parental rights was proper based on Doe's failure to comply with her case plan under Idaho Code section 16-2002(3)(b) and Doe's failure or inability to provide care under Idaho Code section 16-2002(3)(a). Doe timely appealed.

         II. ...


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