In the Interest of: JANE DOE, A Child Under Eighteen (18) Years of Age.
JANE DOE (2018-24), Respondent-Appellant. IDAHO DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AN WELFARE, Petitioner-Respondent,
from the Magistrate Division of the District Court of the
Fourth Judicial District of the State of Idaho, Ada County.
Hon. Andrew Ellis, Magistrate Judge.
decision of the Magistrate Court is affirmed.
Anthony R. Geddes, Ada County Public Defender, Boise,
attorneys for appellant.
Lawrence G. Wasden, Idaho Attorney General, Boise, attorneys
Nature of the Case
Doe (2018-24) ("Mother") appeals a magistrate
court's decision to terminate her parental rights over
her daughter ("K.O.") on the grounds of neglect
after finding it was in K.O.'s best interest. On appeal
Mother contests the magistrate court's findings that (1)
early permanency for K.O. was appropriate and a continuance
of trial was not warranted; and (2) that mother neglected
K.O. and it was in the best interest of K.O. to terminate
Mother's rights. We affirm the magistrate court's
termination of parental rights because the court did not
abuse its discretion in failing to continue the trial.
Additionally, substantial and competent evidence, to a clear
and convincing standard, supported the magistrate court's
decision that Mother neglected K.O. and it was in K.O.'s
best interest to terminate Mother's parental rights.
Factual and Procedural Background
April 27, 2017, the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare
("Department") removed K.O.'s younger brother,
S.O., from Mother's custody after the Boise Police
Department declared S.O. was in imminent danger. S.O. was
born showing signs of withdrawal from narcotics and Mother
admitted to using heroin, methamphetamine and oxycontin while
pregnant. The court conducted a shelter care hearing and
awarded temporary legal custody of S.O. to the Department. On
May 26, 2017, the court entered default after Mother failed
to appear for a hearing. On June 15, 2017, the court awarded
the Department legal custody of S.O. The court also approved
and ordered a case plan for Mother which required her to: (1)
address and show the ability to meet her child's basic
needs including medical, dental, developmental, emotional,
food and clothing; (2) maintain adequate income and housing
to ensure a safe and stable environment; (3) maintain regular
contact with her child; (4) attend parenting education
classes; (5) engage in concurrent planning; (6) participate
in substance abuse treatment and testing; and (7) participate
in mental health treatment.
August 2017, the social worker for S.O. received information
that K.O. was in Idaho visiting S.O. in foster care. On
August 4, 2017, the Department filed an amended petition to
add K.O., who had been residing in Oregon, to S.O.'s
existing Idaho child protection case. The magistrate court
signed an order and removed K.O. from Mother's custody to
place her into foster care with S.O. in Idaho. After a
shelter care hearing the court awarded temporary legal
custody of K.O. to the Department. On September 8, 2017, the
court entered default after Mother failed to appear at a
hearing and awarded the Department legal custody of K.O. On
October 3, 2017, the court approved a case plan regarding
K.O. for Mother that was substantially identical to the case
plan ordered for S.O. on June 15, 2017.
February 2, 2018, the court held a six-month review hearing
for K.O. and, over Mother's objection, granted the
Department's motion to address early permanency for both
children. The goal of permanency planning is to provide a
child with a lifetime connection to a family; thus, the
Department's request for early permanence in this case
sought to limit the amount of time K.O. and S.O. would remain
in foster care and move expeditiously towards a permanent
placement. On February 20, 2018, the court conducted a
hearing to address early permanency and approved the
termination of parental rights as the permanent plan.
March 1, 2018, the Department petitioned for termination of
the parent-child relationship for both S.O. and K.O. On April
10, 2018, Mother withdrew her answer as to S.O., but
requested a trial on the petition for K.O. On April 14, 2018,
Mother moved to continue the termination trial or in the
alternative to allow Mother's video testimony because she
was incarcerated in Oregon. The magistrate court denied the
request to continue the trial but granted mother's
request to appear by video if all the parties would sign a
stipulation to allow her testimony. On April 23, 2018, the
parties stipulated to allowing Mother to testify by video and
the court issued an order permitting her video testimony at
trial. A contested termination trial was held on April 23,
2018, and May 9, 2018. On May 24, 2018, the court terminated
Mother's parental rights. Mother timely appealed the
termination of her rights as to K.O.
Issues on Appeal
Whether the magistrate court erred by granting early
permanency and denying Mother's request ...