In the Interest of: John Doe I, A Child Under Eighteen (18)Years of Age.
JOHN DOE (2019-12), Respondent-Appellant. STATE OF IDAHO, DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND WELFARE, Petitioner-Respondent,
from the Magistrate Division of the District Court of the
Fourth Judicial District, State of Idaho, Ada County. Hon.
Andrew Ellis, Magistrate.
terminating parental rights, affirmed.
County Public Defender; Joshua Wickard, Deputy Public
Defender, Boise, for appellant.
Lawrence G. Wasden, Attorney General; John R. Shackelford,
Deputy Attorney General, Boise, for respondent.
Gratton, Chief Judge.
Doe appeals from the magistrate's judgment terminating
Doe's parental rights. Doe argues the magistrate erred
when it admitted a report of investigation into evidence over
Doe's hearsay objection. Because substantial and
competent evidence independent of the report supports the
magistrate's findings that Doe neglected his child, we
affirm the magistrate's judgment terminating Doe's
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
father, John Doe, was arrested for domestic battery. Doe
struck A.B. with a metal bat while A.B. was trying to protect
his stepmother, who was the intended target. Doe was
arrested, and A.B. remained in the care of his stepmother.
However, later the same year, A.B.'s stepmother took him
to a health clinic and told the staff she was no longer able
to assume responsibility for the child. As Doe was in
custody, A.B. was taken into foster care.
was diagnosed with high-functioning autism, attention deficit
hyperactivity disorder, and oppositional defiance disorder.
A.B. was placed at the Patriot Center, a facility that
addresses trauma and special needs. Doe was ordered to
complete a case plan. The State filed a petition for the
termination of Doe's parental rights after the six-month
review hearing. The court subsequently held a trial on the
petition, and Doe failed to appear but directed his counsel
to contest the petition. At trial, the court heard testimony
from A.B.'s case manager and admitted evidence that
demonstrated Doe did not comply with any part of his case
plan. Doe's attorney objected to the admission of the
report of investigation as hearsay. The court responded that
the objection was valid but "the legislature has
determined and stated that this Court may admit any report,
study or examination and rely upon it to the extent of its
probative value, " and the report was admitted into
evidence pursuant to Idaho Code § 16-2009. Following the
hearing, the court determined it was in the best interest of
A.B. to terminate the parental rights of Doe based on
findings of neglect and abuse. Doe timely appeals.
parent has a fundamental liberty interest in maintaining a
relationship with his or her child. Troxel v.
Granville, 530 U.S. 57, 65 (2000); Doe v.
State, 137 Idaho 758, 760, 53 P.3d 341, 343 (2002). This
interest is protected by the Fourteenth Amendment to the
United States Constitution. State v. Doe, 144 Idaho
839, 842, 172 P.3d 1114, 1117 (2007). Implicit in the
Termination of Parent and Child Relationship Act is the
philosophy that, wherever possible, family life should be
strengthened and preserved. I.C. § 16-2001(2).
Therefore, the requisites of due process must be met when
terminating the parent-child relationship. State v.
Doe, 143 Idaho 383, 386, 146 P.3d 649, 652 (2006). Due
process requires that the grounds for terminating a
parent-child relationship be proved by clear and convincing
evidence. Id. Because a fundamental liberty interest
is at stake, the United States Supreme Court has determined
that a court may terminate a parent-child relationship only
if that decision is supported by clear and convincing
evidence. Santosky v. Kramer, 455 U.S. 745, 769
(1982); see also I.C. § 16-2009; In
re Doe, 146 Idaho 759, 761-62, 203 P.3d 689, 691-92
(2009); Doe, 143 Idaho at 386, 146 P.3d at 652.