Articles Posted in Maine Supreme Judicial Court

by
The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the district court terminating Mother’s and Father’s parental rights to two of their children, holding, among other things, that the evidence was sufficient to support the court’s determination that Mother was parentally unfit within the meaning of Me. Rev. Stat. 22, 4055(1)(B)(2)(b)(ii)-(iv). Specifically, the Court held (1) even if the evidence shows that the Department did not fulfill its statutory duty to develop a proper rehabilitation and reunification plan, such a failure is not dispositive of a termination petition; (2) the district court’s determination of Father’s parental unfitness with regard to his two children was supported by competent evidence in the record; and (3) the court’s determination of Mother’s parental unfitness was supported by competent record evidence. View "In re Children of Corey W." on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the order of the district court denying the Passamaquoddy Tribe’s motion to intervene in a child protective action involving nonmember children following the removal of the children from the custody of their mother, who resided in the Tribe’s territory, holding that the district court did not err in determining that the Department of Health and Human Services’ removal of the children from the Tribe’s territory was not impermissible state regulation of an “internal tribal matter.” Following the Department’s removal of the children from their mother’s care, the Tribe filed a motion to intervene, alleging that Me. R. Civ. P. 24(a)(2) provided for intervention of right because the removal of the children from the Tribe’s territory constituted impermissible state regulation of an internal tribal matter. The court denied the motion to intervene. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding (1) the removal of the children did not constitute impermissible state regulation of an internal tribal matter; and (2) the district court did not abuse its discretion by denying the Tribe’s motion for permissive intervention. View "In re Children of Mary J." on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the order of the district court denying Appellants’ and the Oglala Sioux Tribe’s motions to transfer jurisdiction of this child protection matter to the Oglala Sioux Tribal Court pursuant to the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), 25 U.S.C. 1901-1963, holding that the district court properly found that there was good cause within the meaning of ICWA not to transfer the matter to the Tribal Court. There was no dispute in this case that these were child custody proceedings to which ICWA applied, the children were Indian children within the meaning of ICWA, and the children did not reside on the reservation in South Dakota. Here, the district court focused on the difficulty in the presentation of evidence that would occur if jurisdiction were transferred from Maine to South Dakota. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that the court’s denial of the motion to transfer was supported by its findings and conclusions and that the court’s analysis of the geographical challenges posed by a potential transfer was supported by ample evidence, contained no legal errors, and did not represent an abuse of discretion. View "In re Children of Shirley T." on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgments entered by the probate court terminating Father’s parental rights to his two children in anticipation of an adoption, holding that the court did not err in its use of statements made by one of the children during an in camera interview and that there was sufficient evidence to support the court’s finding of parental unfitness as to both children. The probate court terminated Father’s parental rights pursuant to Me. Rev. Stat. 18-A, 9-204(a)-(b) and Me. Rev. Stat. 22, 4055(1)(A)(2), (B)(2)(a) and (B)(2)(b)(ii). The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding (1) any errors made by the probate court with regard to statements given by S.S. during the in camera interview were harmless; (2) the evidence was sufficient to support the court’s findings; and (3) Father was not deprived of a fair trial or treated unjustly as a result of the trial court’s erroneous sequence of its fact-finding. View "In re Adoption of Shayleigh S." 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), holding that the court’s findings were supported by competent in the record and were sufficient to support the court’s decision. Specifically, the Court held that the the court’s findings supported the court’s determination that (1) Mother was unable to protect the child from jeopardy and was unwilling or unable to take responsibility for the child within a time reasonably calculated to meet the child’s needs; (2) Mother failed to make a good faith effort to rehabilitate and reunify with the child; and (3) termination of Mother’s parental rights was in the child’s best interests. View "In re Child of Stephenie F." on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the district court terminating Father’s parental rights to his three children, holding that the court did not err in its unfitness or best interest determinations. Specifically, the Court held that the district court did not err in finding that Father remained unable to protect the children from jeopardy within a time that was reasonably calculated to meet their needs, failed to make a good faith effort to rehabilitate and reunify with the child, and did not abuse its discretion in determining that termination of Father’s parental rights was in the children’s best interests. View "In re Child of Edward F." on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the order of the district court terminating Father’s parental rights to his child, holding that sufficient evidence supported the court’s finding of parental unfitness and that the court did not abuse its discretion by terminating Father’s parental rights rather than imposing a permanency guardianship. After a hearing, the district court entered a judgment terminating Father’s parental rights after finding that he was unable to protect the child from jeopardy or take responsibility for her within a time reasonably calculated to meet the child’s needs. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding (1) the court did not err in finding, by clear and convincing evidence, that Father failed to alleviate jeopardy or be able to take responsibility for the child; and (2) the court did not err in determining that termination of Father’s parental rights was in the child’s best interest. View "In re Child of Domenick B." 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. 22, 4055(1)(A)(1)(a) and (B)(2)(a), (b)(i)-(ii), holding that the evidence was sufficient to support the court’s unfitness and best interest determinations. Specifically, the Supreme Judicial Court held that the record supported the findings, by clear and convincing evidence, and conclusions of the district court that (1) Father was unable to protect the child from jeopardy or to take responsibility for him within a time reasonably calculated to meet the child’s needs; and (2) termination was in the child’s best interest. View "In re Child of Adam E." 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. 22, 4055(1)(A)(1)(a) and (B)(2)(a), (b)(i)-(iv), holding that Father received sufficient notice of the termination hearing and that the court did not err by admitting the testimony of a Department of Health and Human Services supervisor. Father failed to appear but was fully represented by counsel at both the jeopardy hearing and the termination hearing. The court ultimately found that Father was unfit and that termination was in the best interest of the child. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding (1) Father’s notice of the termination hearing through service by publication was legally sufficient; and (2) the district court did not commit obvious error in failing to exclude from evidence, sua sponte, the testimony of the Department supervisor. View "In re Child of Kaysean M." on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the district court terminating Mother’s parental rights to her youngest child pursuant to Me. Rev. Stat. 22, 4055(1)(A)(1)(a) and (1)(B)(2)(a), (b)(i)-(iv), holding that the court did not deny Mother due process, did not err when it found Mother unfit, and did not abuse its discretion when it determine that terminating her parental rights was in the best interest of the child. On appeal, Mother contended, among other things, that she was denied due process when the district court conducted an evidentiary hearing in her absence on the petition to terminate her parental rights. The Supreme Judicial Court disagreed, holding (1) under the circumstances of this case, the district did not deprive Mother of due process where Mother was voluntarily absent without good cause during the evidentiary hearing not he termination petition; and (2) the court did not err in finding that Mother was unfit or abuse its discretion in concluding that termination of Mother’s parental rights was in the best interests of the child. View "In re Child of Tanya C." on Justia Law