In the Interest of: JANE DOE II, a Child Under Eighteen (18) Years of Age. JANE DOE (2018-11), Plaintiff-Appellant, and JANE and JOHN DOE I, Counter Petitioners-Respondents and JOHN DOE, Third Party Petitioner.
from the Magistrate Court of the Fourth Judicial District of
the State of Idaho, Ada County. Hon. Christopher Bieter,
final decree appointing Aunt as Jane's permanent guardian
is vacated. This case is remanded for a new trial.
Whitney Welsh, Boise, and W. Christopher Pooser, Stoel Rives,
LLP, Boise, attorneys for Petitioner Jane Doe. W. Christopher
Quade Law, PLLC, Boise, and Sandra L. Clapp & Associates,
PA, Eagle, attorneys for Counter Petitioners-Respondents Jane
and John Doe I. Charlene K. Quade argued.
NATURE OF THE CASE
appeal concerns the guardianship of a ten-year-old child,
Jane Doe II ("Jane"). Both of Jane's parents
passed away in 2017. Thereafter, a family friend with whom
Jane and her mother had been living, ("Friend"),
petitioned for guardianship. Jane's father's twin
sister ("Aunt") also petitioned for guardianship.
During proceedings the magistrate court appointed a local
attorney, Auriana Clapp-Younggren
("Clapp-Younggren"), to serve as both the attorney
and the guardian ad litem for Jane. After trial the
magistrate court followed Clapp-Younggren's
recommendation and awarded temporary guardianship to Friend
so that Jane could finish the school year, but appointed Aunt
as Jane's permanent guardian. Friend appealed the
magistrate court decision.
FACTS AND PROCEDURE
was born in 2007. Throughout her childhood, both of
Jane's parents struggled with substance abuse and had
multiple encounters with the criminal justice system.
Jane's parents both tried to co-parent Jane, while
relying on other family members to assist them with raising
her. In 2011, Jane's mother ("Mother")
developed a romantic relationship with Friend's son while
residing in the Idaho State Hospital. Following Mother's
release from the hospital, she and Jane began living with
Friend and Friend's son. Jane was four-years-old at that
time. Friend is Jane's godmother, and assisted in helping
Mother raise Jane while they lived with her. Evidence at
trial showed that they all lived together in Boise and
operated as a family unit, i.e., attending school functions,
helping with homework, and providing discipline for Jane. As
a result of Jane's parents relying on various family and
friends to help raise Jane, Friend knew Jane's father
("Father") and his family, including Aunt.
had a friendly relationship with Mother. Aunt was familiar
with the struggles that both parents had with substance
abuse, but remained supportive of their desire to co-parent
Jane. In January 2017, Father suddenly and unexpectedly died.
Following Father's death, in May of 2017, Mother arranged
for Jane to visit Aunt in Montana. After Father's death
Jane and Mother continued to live with Friend. Then, on
August 30, 2017, Mother relapsed and died as a result of a
Friday, September 1, 2017, Friend filed a pro se
petition for guardianship of Jane. After filing the petition,
Friend notified Jane's paternal family of Mother's
passing. Aunt filed a petition for guardianship on the
following business day, September 5, 2017. The magistrate
court immediately appointed Clapp-Younggren to act as a
guardian ad litem and attorney for Jane. After a hearing on
September 19, 2017, Friend was granted temporary guardianship
of Jane until trial, which was set for January of 2018.
November 22, 2017, Friend moved to have an attorney appointed
to represent Jane pursuant to Idaho Code section 15-5-207. On
November 28, 2017, the judge summarily denied the motion
during a telephonic conference. Also in November, Friend and
Aunt entered into a Preliminary Agreement regarding
Aunt's contact with Jane, which was mediated by
Clapp-Younggren. On December 10, 2017, Friend filed a motion
requesting Jane be allowed to testify at the guardianship
December 7, 2017, Clapp-Younggren filed the Guardian Ad Litem
Initial Report. The report stated that Jane's best
interests would be served by her moving to Montana with Aunt
at the end of the school year. As part of determining what
would be in Jane's best interest, Clapp-Younggren
interviewed several people including Jane's third and
fourth grade teachers, her school counselor, an outside
counselor, Jane, Friend, Aunt, and Jane's grandfather.
Clapp-Younggren did not visit Montana or interview anyone
from Montana other than Aunt; however, Aunt provided pictures
of her Montana residence as well as letters from various
family and friends. Additionally, Clapp-Younggren obtained
information regarding the criminal backgrounds of the parties
and Friend's son.
to the trial, Clapp-Younggren submitted her final report,
which again recommended that Jane remain with Friend until
the end of the school year, and then that Jane move to
Montana with Aunt. The report noted as well that Jane had
"consistently stated to [Clapp-Younggren] that Jane
would like to stay with [Friend], that she enjoys her friends