Articles Posted in Idaho Supreme Court - Civil

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John Doe I (“Father”) appealed a magistrate court’s order terminating his parental rights to Jane Doe I (“Child”). Father argued the court erred in concluding he neglected Child because Jane Doe (“Mother”) prevented Father from supporting or contacting Child. Father also argued the magistrate court, in analyzing the best interest of Child, impermissibly compared Father’s relationship to John Doe II (“Stepfather”) without considering Mother’s actions. Despite Mother’s unwillingness to provide her or Child’s contact information, the evidence demonstrated that Father had several opportunities to play a role in Child’s life, but his attempts to do so inevitably lost traction. Child’s relationship with Stepfather was only one factor that was considered by the magistrate court in determining that termination was in the best interest of Child. The magistrate court also considered that Father had not paid child support, or made a substantial effort to contact Child since 2012. The Idaho Supreme Court found it was appropriate for the magistrate court to consider these factors when it analyzed whether termination was in the best interest of Child, and affirmed that court's decision in all respects. View "Doe II v. Doe I" on Justia Law

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Jane Doe II (“Grandmother”) raised her two young granddaughters, VG and CG. Grandmother met Jane Doe I (“Former Girlfriend”) soon after CG’s birth. Grandmother and Former Girlfriend were involved in a romantic relationship and moved to Idaho with the girls, where they all lived together for several months. Soon thereafter, Grandmother ended the relationship with Former Girlfriend. Former Girlfriend moved out of the home, but continued to care for the girls. Grandmother became legal guardian of both girls. In March 2013, Grandmother filed a petition to make Former Girlfriend a co-guardian because she thought it would ensure that the girls would remain together if something happened to her. About a year later, Grandmother and Former Girlfriend filed a joint petition to terminate the biological parents’ rights and co-adopt the girls. The written agreements to adopt that were prepared prior to the hearing were changed to reflect that Former Girlfriend would adopt CG and Grandmother would adopt VG. During the hearing on the matter, the petition to terminate the biological parents’ rights was granted, as were the separate adoptions. Police were called in to physically remove CG from Grandmother’s home; shortly thereafter, Former Girlfriend moved to terminate Grandmother’s guardianship. In late December 2016, Former Girlfriend filed a motion for summary judgment in this case seeking co-adoption of both girls and orders of guardianship or visitation based on the parties’ original petition for co-adoption. In response, Grandmother filed a motion to dismiss the petition, stating that she no longer wished to have the co-adoption go forward. The legal issues presented for the Idaho Supreme Court’s review of this matter were: (1) whether there was a basis for claiming legal error where a magistrate judge expresses a likely outcome of a motion, but does not actually hear the matter or enter an order; (2) whether an order vacating a final judgment is appealable under Idaho Appellate Rule 11(a); and (3) whether a guardian gave sufficient legal consent to an adoption. The Supreme Court affirmed in part, finding the trial court did not err in its decision with respect to the consent issue; with respect to the others, the Court determined it lacked jurisdiction for review. View "Jane Doe I v. Jane Doe II" on Justia Law

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This case was previously before the Idaho Supreme Court in In Matter of Doe (2016-14), 389 P.3d 141 (2016). There, the Court 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. Finding no reversible error, the Supreme Court affirmed. View "H & W v. Jane Doe (2017-3)" on Justia Law

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Jane Doe (“Mother”) and John Doe (“Father”) were married for twenty-five years and had eleven children between three years of age and twenty-two years of age. In March 2015, the family moved to Spirit Lake, Idaho, to become members of another religious community. The oldest daughter, who was then fourteen years of age, disclosed to that community that Father had sexually molested her when she was a child, starting when she was four or five years of age and ending when she was fourteen; that when she was six, seven, or eight years of age, she told Mother, but Mother did nothing to protect her; and that when she was twelve years of age, the molestation became less frequent as Father began sexually molesting a younger sister who was six years of age. Members of that community encouraged Father to confess to law enforcement, and he and Mother went to the county sheriff’s office and confessed to sexually molesting two of his daughters while they lived in Washington state. Because the offenses did not occur in Idaho, he was not arrested. Members of the community met with Father and Mother and developed with them a plan to protect the other children from Father sexually molesting them. Father and Mother violated the provisions in the plan, and a member of the community contacted the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare (“Department”). The visit ultimately led to charges against Father, in which he pled guilty and was sentenced to ten years in prison and a lifetime of supervision. The Department filed a petition to terminate Father’s and Mother’s parental rights in their minor children. After a two-day evidentiary hearing, the magistrate court found that the Department had proved by clear and convincing evidence that there were grounds for terminating the parental rights of Father and Mother in their minor children. It entered judgments terminating the parental rights of both parents, and they timely appealed. Finding that substantial and competent evidence supported the termination decision, and that termination was in the best interests of the children, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed. View "Re: Termination of Parental Rights" on Justia Law

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At issue in this case was the modification of a default judgment requiring that the parents of a child rotate custody of their three-year-old child every three weeks. The father lived in Blackfoot; the mother lived out of state in Oceanside, California (913 miles away). The Idaho Supreme Court held that the magistrate court abused its discretion in ordering that custody rotation. In addition, the mother had moved to modify the judgment by default, but did not move to set aside the entry of default. The Supreme Court held that the father waived the default by litigating the motion to modify. View "Martinez v. Carrasco" on Justia Law

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John Doe appealed a magistrate court’s decision terminating his parental rights. The magistrate court terminated Doe’s rights on the statutory basis of Idaho Code section 16-2005(1), namely, that Doe was incarcerated and is likely to remain incarcerated for a substantial period of time during his sons’ (A.C. and S.C.) minority. The court also found termination was in the best interests of A.C. and S.C. Finding no abuse of discretion, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed the termination. View "Health & Welfare v. John Doe (2017-4)" on Justia Law

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The issue at the center of this case, presented for the Idaho Supreme Court's review, required it to resolve a custody dispute between Jane Doe I, Child’s natural mother, and Jane Doe, the natural mother’s former partner. During the course of Mother and Partner’s relationship, Mother conceived a child via artificial insemination. After the parties separated, Partner filed a petition to establish parentage, custody and visitation with Child. Partner advanced two legal arguments to support her petition: (1) the Court’s decision in Stockwell v. Stockwell, 775 P.2d 611 (1989), provided an independent cause of action by which the court could grant custody to Partner; (2) argued that she should be deemed a parent under Idaho Code section 39-5405, Idaho’s artificial insemination statute, because she consented to the artificial insemination. As part of this argument, Partner contended that Idaho’s artificial insemination statute violated Child’s rights and her rights under the Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution by discriminating against children born outside of marriage. The magistrate court denied Partner’s claim for parentage, but granted her visitation rights under "Stockwell." After review, the Supreme Court concluded: (1) "Stockwell" did not create an independent cause of action for a non-parent seeking custodial rights to a minor child; and (2) the magistrate court properly dismissed the parentage claims brought pursuant to the Artificial Insemination Act. The judgment of the magistrate court was reversed in part and affirmed in part. The case was remanded to the magistrate court to vacate the temporary visitation order that was entered. View "Jane Doe v. Jane Doe I" on Justia Law

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Jane Doe (“Doe”) appealed the magistrate court’s judgment granting the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare’s (“IDHW”) petition to terminate her parental rights. Doe claimed that the magistrate court erred by: (1) terminating her parental rights notwithstanding its finding that her mental health issues made it impossible for her to comply with the case plan; and (2) considering evidence outside of the record during the termination trial. Five permanency hearings were held between January 6, 2015 and December 15, 2015. Prior to the first permanency hearing, the Guardian ad litem again reported that while the Children were progressing, Doe was failing to comply with her case plan. Accordingly, it again recommended that the magistrate court move forward with the termination of Doe’s parental rights. IDHW’s report was substantially similar to its previous report; that is, Doe had continued her noncompliance with the case plan. Finding no reversible error in the magistrate court's judgment, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed termination. View "Health & Welfare v. Jane Doe (2016-47)" on Justia Law

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In a parental rights termination and adoption case, John Doe I (“Father”) was incarcerated for second degree murder. He was given a minimum fifteen year sentence, with a subsequent indeterminate period not to exceed life. While Father was in jail awaiting trial, Mother and Jane Doe III ("Child") visited him frequently. After sentencing, Father was transferred to the Idaho State Correctional Institute in Boise. Mother and Child visited him there once in September 2012. This was the last physical contact Child had with Father. Shortly after this visit, Father was transferred to a prison in Colorado. In early 2016, he returned to the Correctional Institute in Boise. Father made frequent phone calls to Child until 2013 when Mother, out of concern for Child, began restricting calls to Child. Thereafter, Father sent a few letters to Child, but has essentially had no contact with Child since then. In 2013, Mother began dating Stepfather. In May 2015, Mother and Stepfather were married. Mother and Stepfather have two children together, and they, Child and their two children live as a family in Nampa. Mother and Stepfather operate two daycare centers in Nampa. Stepfather has acted as a father figure to Child since he began dating Mother, and has had the care, custody and control of Child since he married Mother in 2015. A magistrate court held that it was in the best interest of Child that Father’s rights be terminated so that Stepfather (John Doe II) could adopt her. Finding no reversible error, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed. View "Doe II v. Doe I" on Justia Law

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Jane Doe (Mother) appeals the Bonneville County magistrate court’s termination of her parental rights to her two minor children, K.J.M. and K.M.M. (Children). The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare (IDHW) became involved in this case in November 2012, when it learned Mother and her boyfriend, who was also K.J.M.’s father, were blowing marijuana smoke in K.R.C.’s and K.J.M.’s faces. IDHW visited Mother’s home and noted it was "filthy with pills and drug paraphernalia scattered throughout the home[.]" Further investigation revealed that Mother’s boyfriend was physically abusing Mother. Mother’s boyfriend was arrested for felony strangulation of Mother. Apparently, Mother dropped the charges "due to him being the sole caretaker of the children and needing his help . . . ." In addition, Mother’s boyfriend was physically abusing K.R.C. and K.J.M. Mother reported she had witnessed her boyfriend "shake 4 month old [K.J.M.] . . . and hit[] 1 year old [K.R.C.], leaving bruises on her legs and bottom." Even so, Mother routinely placed them in the care of her boyfriend while she went to work, not "fully comprehend[ing] the danger she [was] placing her children in . . . ." IDHW petitioned to terminate Mother's parental rights to the children in late 2015. After an eight-day trial where over forty witnesses testified and close to 200 exhibits were admitted, the magistrate found termination appropriate on several bases, and entered a judgment of termination. Mother appeals, challenging the sufficiency of the evidence. Finding no reversible error, the Supreme Court affirmed. View "Dept. of Health & Welfare v. Jane Doe (2016-32)" on Justia Law