Articles Posted in Maine Supreme Judicial Court

by
The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the district court terminating Mother's parental rights to her child, holding that the district court did not err or abuse its discretion in determining that Mother was unfit and that the termination of her parental rights was in the child's best interest. On appeal, Mother argued, among other things, that the intervention of the Governor's office in the decision of the Department of Health and Human Services to cancel or delay her trial placement violated her equal protection and due process rights. The Supreme Judicial Court disagreed, holding (1) the court did not commit obvious error or any error of fact or law, whether constitutional or statutory in dimension, when it entered its judgment seven months after the Department's decision on the trial placement; (2) the court did not err in finding that Mother was unable to protect the child from jeopardy and those circumstances were unlikely to change within a time reasonably calculated to meet the child's needs; and (3) the court did not abuse its discretion in determining that the termination of Mother's parental rights was in the best interest of the child. View "In re Child of Lacy H." on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the district court entering a protection from harassment order against Defendant on the complaint of Jane Doe, holding that the court did not err in issuing the protection from harassment order. Specifically, the Court held (1) the district court did not abuse its discretion in consolidating the hearing on Defendant's motion to dissolve the temporary protection from harassment order and the final hearing on Doe's complaint; (2) the district court did not abuse its discretion in issuing a scheduling order that limited the time for the consolidated hearing to two hours; and (3) the district court did not err in finding credible the testimony of two witnesses and in finding that Defendant intentionally sought to harass Doe. View "Doe v. Plourde" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment entered by the district court terminating Mother's parental rights to her child, holding, among other things, that the court did not err in finding that Mother was unfit and that the termination of Mother's parental rights was in the child's best interest. After a termination hearing, the district court terminated Mother's parental rights pursuant to Me. Rev. Stat. 4055(1)(B)(2)(a), (b)(i), (ii), (iv). Mother appealed, arguing, among other things, that the district court erred in finding that she received proper notice of the trial on the termination petition. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding (1) the court did not err in holding a trial and entering a judgment upon finding that service was adequate; (2) under the circumstances, the court did not err in finding that the Department of Health and Human Services had complied with its statutory rehabilitation and reunification obligations; and (3) the court did not err in finding three bases of unfitness and in determining that the termination of Mother's parental rights was in the best interest of the child. View "In re Child of Haley L." on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the district court terminating Mother's parental rights to her child and the district court's denial of Mother's motion for relief from that judgment, holding that the court did not err or abuse its discretion. On appeal, Mother challenged the court's parental unfitness and best interest determinations and argued that the court erred in denying her motion for relief based on alleged ineffective assistance of Mother's counsel. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding (1) there was competent evidence to support the court's finding that Mother was parentally unfit, and the court did not commit clear error or abuse its discretion in determining that termination of Mother's parental rights was in the child's best interest; and (2) the evidence supported the court's determination that Mother did not meet her burden to show that she received ineffective assistance of counsel. View "In re Child of Shaina T." on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the district court terminating Father's parental rights to his children pursuant to Me. Rev. Stat. 22, 4055(1)(B)(2)(a), (b)(i)-(ii), holding that the court did not impermissibly consider Father's incarceration in reaching its parental unfitness determination and that Father failed properly to raise his claim of ineffective assistance of counsel at the termination hearing. Specifically, the Court held (1) the lower court's findings were supported by competent record evidence and, given these findings, the court did not err in finding that Father was unfit; and (2) because Father raised his ineffective representation claim on direct appeal without submitting an affidavit, Father's ineffective representation claim must be denied. View "In re Children of Matthew G." on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the district court terminating Mother's parental rights to her child pursuant to Me. Rev. Stat. 22, 4055(1)(A)(1)(a), (1)(B)(2)(a)-(b)(i), holding that there was no clear error or abuse of discretion in the court's findings or analysis. On appeal, Mother argued that the court erred in finding by clear and convincing evidence that she was an unfit parent after determining that she would be unable to protect the child from jeopardy within the statutorily-required timeframe. The Supreme Judicial Court disagreed, holding that the trial court's conclusion that the child had waited long enough for permanency was well supported by the record. View "In re Child of Amey W." on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the district court terminating Father's parental rights to his child pursuant to Me. Rev. Stat. 4055(1)(B)(2)(a), (b)(ii), holding that the court did not err or abuse its discretion by concluding that terminating Father's parental rights was in the child's best interest. The district court based its best interest determination primarily on the child's need for permanency. On appeal, Father did not challenge the court's factual findings or its determination of parental unfitness. Instead, Father asserted only that the court erred by concluding that termination of his parental rights was in the child's best interest. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that the court did not err or abuse its discretion by concluding that terminating Father's parental rights was in the child's best interest. View "In re Child of Scott L." on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the district court terminating Mother's parental rights to her child, holding that the court did not err in determining that termination of Mother's parental rights was in the best interest of her child. After a termination hearing, the court determined that the child's best interest would be served through the permanency plan of adoption. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that, given the strength of the record, particularly the length of time the child had been in kinship care and Mother's consistent and demonstrated inability to provide a safe and stable home for the child, the court did not abuse its discretion in concluding that termination of Mother's parental rights was in the child's best interest. View "In re Child of Shannon S." on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the district court terminating Mother's and Father's parental rights to their child, holding that the record contained competent evidence to support the court's findings, by clear and convincing evidence, of both parents' parental unfitness. Specifically, the Court held (1) the court's findings of unfitness were supported by competent record evidence; and (2) the court did not violate Mother's due process rights by denying her motion to continue and then commencing the termination hearing in her absence with the knowledge that she had been arrested, as Mother failed to show that she was prejudiced by her partial absence. View "In re Child of Raul R." on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the district court terminating the parental rights of Mother and Father to their child, holding that there was no error in the proceedings below. On appeal, Mother argued that the district court erred in denying her motion for relief from the termination judgment, in which she alleged that she received ineffective assistance of counsel. Father argued that there was insufficient evidence to support the termination of his parental rights. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding (1) the trial court did not abuse its discretion by denying Mother's motion for relief from the termination of her parental rights; and (2) there was sufficient evidence in the record to support the court's termination of Father's parental rights. View "In re Child of Dawn B." on Justia Law