In the Matter of: DOE CHILDREN, Children Under Eighteen (18) Years of Age
JANE DOE, Respondent-Appellant. IDAHO DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND WELFARE, Petitioner-Respondent,
from the Magistrate Court of the Fifth Judicial District of
the State of Idaho, Twin Falls County, Hon. Thomas D.
Kershaw, Jr., Magistrate Judge.
judgment of the magistrate court is affirmed.
Falls County Public Defender, Twin Falls, for Appellant.
Lawrence G. Wasden, Idaho Attorney General, Boise, for
Doe (Mother) appeals from a judgment of the Twin Falls County
magistrate court terminating her parental rights to her three
minor children: PG, KG, and BG. Mother argues that the
magistrate court abused its discretion in determining that
she neglected her children and that it is in the
children's best interest to terminate the parent-child
relationship. We affirm.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
case arises from the termination of Mother's parental
rights to her three minor children-PG, KG, and BG-on July 17,
2018. Father previously consented to termination of his
the end of February 2017, Mother, who was thirty-five weeks
pregnant with BG, went into preterm labor while in jail. She
was transported to a hospital but did not have the baby at
that time. While at the hospital, she tested positive for
methamphetamines. Around that time, KG was hospitalized to
receive treatment for Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV).
Because Mother appeared to be under the influence of drugs
when she visited KG in the hospital, the doctor called Child
Protective Services over concerns that Mother could not
adequately care for her child. After an investigation, the
State of Idaho filed a petition to remove PG and KG from
their home and they were placed into emergency shelter care
on March 1, 2017. The children were three years old and one
year old, respectively. BG was then born and placed in
emergency shelter care on March 29, 2017, after testing
positive for three kinds of opiates. She was four days old
when she went into care.
early April 2017, a detailed case plan was developed and
approved by the magistrate court specifying the tasks that
Mother needed to accomplish to regain custody of her
children. Because Mother continued to use drugs, have other
criminal issues, and made only minimal progress on her case
plan after eight months, the State filed a petition to
terminate her parental rights on November 28, 2017. On
January 22, 2018, the magistrate court entered an order
approving a permanency plan of adoption for the children in
the event that Mother's parental rights were terminated.
The foster parents agreed to adopt all three children. A
termination trial was held at the end of June 2018, and on
July 17, 2018, the magistrate court entered an order
terminating Mother's parental rights. A final judgment to
that effect was entered on July 24, 2018. Mother timely
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution
protects the fundamental right of parents "to maintain a
familial relationship, and to the 'custody, care and
control' of their children." In re Termination
of Parental Rights of Doe (2013-17), 155 Idaho 896, 902,
318 P.3d 886, 892 (2014) (quoting State v. Doe, 143
Idaho 383, 386, 146 P.3d 649, 652 (2006)). "Therefore,
when the State intervenes to terminate the parent-child
relationship the requisites of due process must be met."
Doe, 143 Idaho at 386, 146 P.3d at 652. To satisfy
due process, the State must prove by clear and convincing
evidence that at least one of the statutorily approved
grounds for terminating the relationship is satisfied and
that termination is in the child's best interest. In
re Doe (2011-02), 151 Idaho 356, 362, 256 P.3d 764, 770
(2011); I.C. § 16-2005(1). "Whether a matter has
been proved by clear and convincing evidence is primarily a
matter for the trial court." Id. at 363, 256
P.3d at 771 (quoting In re Doe (2009-19), 150 Idaho
201, 203, 245 P.3d 953, 955 (2010)).
When reviewing a termination decision, this Court reviews the
trial court record to determine whether substantial and
competent evidence supports the magistrate court's
findings of fact and whether the conclusions of law follow
from those findings. Substantial and competent evidence is
such evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate
to support a conclusion.
Matter of Doe II, 163 Idaho 399, 401, 414 P.3d 221,
223 (2018) (internal citations and quotations omitted). A
court's decision is not an abuse of discretion where it
is supported by substantial and competent evidence. See
Woods v. Woods, 163 Idaho 904, 907, 422 P.3d 1110, 1113
(2018). However, where the trial court's findings must be
supported by clear and convincing evidence, "the
substantial evidence test requires a greater quantum of
evidence . . . than in cases where a mere preponderance is
required." Doe v. Doe (2016-45), 162 Idaho 194,
197, 395 P.3d 814, 817 (2017) (quoting In re Doe,
143 Idaho at 346, 144 P.3d at 600). "This Court will
indulge all reasonable inferences in support of the trial
court's judgment when reviewing an order that parental
rights be terminated." Matter of Doe II, 163
Idaho at 401, 414 P.3d at 223.
argues that the magistrate court abused its discretion in
determining that she neglected her children under Idaho Code
sections 16-1602(31) and 16-2002(3)(b) and that it is in the
children's best interests to ...