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In re Daniel H.

Supreme Court of Maine

May 9, 2017

IN RE DANIEL H.

          Submitted On Briefs: April 27, 2017

         Reporter of Decisions

          Taylor S. Kilgore, Esq., Taylor S. Kilgore, Attorney at Law, Turner, for appellant Mother.

          Daniel Dubé, Esq., Dubé & Link, P.A., Auburn, 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, MEAD, GORMAN, JABAR, and HUMPHREY, JJ.

          SAUFLEY, C.J.

         [¶1] The parents of Daniel H. appeal from a judgment entered in the District Court (Rumford, Carlson, J.) terminating their parental rights due to persistent concerns about Daniels basic health and safety, the parents inability to understand and respond to his needs, their history of substance abuse, the mothers serious intellectual limitations, and the fathers violence toward the mother and others. We affirm the judgment.

         I. BACKGROUND

         [¶2] The following facts are drawn from the courts findings of fact, reached by clear and convincing evidence, all of which are supported by competent evidence in the record. See In re Logan M., 2017 ME 23, ¶ 3, 155 A.3d 430. The parents met in Michigan and moved to Maine in March 2014 at around the time the father was charged in Michigan with a felony criminal sexual conduct offense against a girl under the age of thirteen. A warrant for the fathers arrest was issued in conjunction with the felony complaint on March 19, 2014. The mother was pregnant at the time of the move, and Daniel was born in Maine on May 27, 2014. The parents were married sometime in 2015.

         [¶3] The Department of Health and Human Services was involved with the family repeatedly before petitioning for a child protection order and order of preliminary protection on August 27, 2015. The petition was based on the fathers physical altercation with a neighbor while holding Daniel in his arms, the fathers active arrest warrant from Michigan, and the presence of choking and other health hazards within reach of the child. The court (Beliveau, J.) entered an order of preliminary protection granting custody of Daniel to the Department.

         [¶4] The parents waived the right to a summary preliminary hearing, and the court (Carlson, J.) entered a jeopardy order, with the parents agreement, in November 2015. Jeopardy was based on the parents inability to safely supervise Daniel, including during the mothers supervised visits with the child; their inability to keep hazardous items away from the child; allegations of the fathers sexual abuse of minors; substance abuse by both parents; the fathers violence toward a neighborhood cat in front of the child, resulting in the cat being put down; and the fathers altercation with his neighbor. By the time of the next judicial review in April 2016, the father was incarcerated on charges of operating under the influence, failure to submit to arrest or detention, and assault on a police officer. He was convicted of assault on an officer and OUI in May 2016 after pleading guilty to those charges.

         [¶5] The Department petitioned for the termination of both parents parental rights on July 25, 2016. After one additional judicial review, the court held a hearing on the termination petition on October 31, 2016.

         [¶6] With respect to the mothers parental fitness, the court found that her parental rights to each of her four older children had been terminated, though she has little insight into why any of the children were removed from her care. Between the ages of fifteen and twenty-one, the mother was addicted to crack cocaine, and up until a week before the hearing, she had been using marijuana, without a ...


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