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In re Adden B.

Supreme Court of Maine

July 19, 2016

IN RE ADDEN B.

          Submitted On Briefs: May 26, 2016

         On the briefs:

          Richard Charest, Esq., Lewiston, for appellant father

          Janet T. Mills, Attorney General, and Meghan Szylvian, Asst. Atty. Gen., Office of the Attorney General, Augusta, for appellee Department of Health and Human Services

          Panel: SAUFLEY, C.J., and ALEXANDER, GORMAN, JABAR, HJELM, and HUMPHREY, JJ.

          HUMPHREY, J.

         [¶1] The father of Adden B. appeals from a judgment of the District Court (Lewiston, Oram, J.) terminating his parental rights as to his son pursuant to 22 M.R.S. § 4055(1)(A), (B)(2)(b)(i)-(ii) (2015). The father contends that the court violated the Due Process Clauses of the United States and Maine Constitutions by conducting the termination hearing in his absence. See U.S. Const. amend. XIV, § 1; Me. Const. art. I, § 6-A. Because we conclude that the father was afforded sufficient process by the District Court, we affirm.

         I. BACKGROUND

         [¶2] Gary and Roseanne B. are the biological parents of Adden B., who entered foster care on September 27, 2014, one day after his birth, because the Department of Health and Human Services had received a report that both parents had significant mental health issues, that there was domestic violence in the relationship, and that the mother reported that she did not want the child. The Department's petition for a preliminary protection order was granted. In January 2015, after a hearing, the court (L. Walker, J.) made a finding of jeopardy as to the father based on domestic violence, "unmanaged mental health and/or anger management problems which cause[d] impulsive, angry, sometimes violent behaviors, " and his status as a sexual offender based on a 2005 conviction for indecent assault and battery on a child younger than fourteen for which he had never been treated. The court ordered the father to participate in mental health counseling, a psychosexual evaluation, sexual offender treatment, a certified Batterers' Intervention Program, and parenting education classes.

         [¶3] In April 2015, the Department filed a petition to terminate the father's parental rights, alleging, inter alia, that he had not taken any steps toward rehabilitation and reunification as outlined in his reunification plan, including that he refused to undergo sexual offender or mental health treatment. The court (Oram, J.) held a hearing on the petition on Wednesday, September 30, 2015.

         [¶4] At the commencement of the termination hearing, the father told the court

I've been puking all morning, and I've had a fever, hot and cold flashes, coughing . . . I'm not doing well while I'm down here in the rain just because I knew I had to be here. But I can't keep making trips back and forth in the rain with – as sick as I am. . . . I've already hit the bathroom like four times and ended up puking up my breakfast this morning. And I'm just – I'm not doing good.
. . . .
With as sick as I am, I can barely concentrate. I mean, I can barely stay awake out there. . . . I can barely think, I can barely process. . . . And I want to be able to be at 100 ...

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