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In re Alexavier G.

Supreme Court of Maine

December 7, 2017

IN RE ALEXAVIER G. et al.

          Submitted On Briefs: November 29, 2017

          Deborah Munson Feagans, Esq., Gorham, for appellant Mother.

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

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

          REPORTER OF DECISIONS

          PER CURIAM

         [¶1] The mother of Alexavier G. and Amaiya W. appeals from the District Courts (Portland, Eggert, J.) judgment terminating her parental rights to the children pursuant to 22 M.R.S. § 4055(1)(A)(1)(a), (1)(B)(2)(b)(i)-(ii), (iv) (2017). She challenges the sufficiency of the evidence to support the courts findings that she failed to take responsibility for her children, is unwilling and unable to protect the children from jeopardy, and that both of these circumstances are unlikely to change within a time reasonably calculated to meet the childrens needs.[1] She also argues that the court abused its discretion by refusing to continue the termination hearing to allow a witness of hers to testify. Because competent evidence supports the courts findings and we conclude that the court acted within its discretion when it declined to continue the hearing for testimony that was cumulative and not likely to affect the judgment, we affirm.

         [¶2] The court made the following findings of fact, which have ample support from competent evidence in the record:

The Jeopardy Order required [the mother] to participate in a substance abuse evaluation to determine the appropriate level of treatment, drug testing, mental health counseling, ... [a diagnostic] evaluation, parenting education, and visitation with the children. At the time ... [the mother] was incarcerated, but was released two weeks later....[S]he was free from jail only six days before she was arrested for a probation violation for ... drug use.
... She has never fulfilled [a substance abuse evaluation] to her detriment because the Department was not willing to fund a[n] . . . inpatient placement without that evaluation. She also did not complete the required [diagnostic] evaluation, and has not been in any consistent mental health counseling.
To her credit, [the mother] did take some steps toward her drug treatment while she was released. . . . [But then] she was arrested again ... on a probation violation, testing positive for cocaine, oxycontin, and benzodiazepines. . . . Although the caseworker met her a few days after her release, she was unaware that the mother had used again ... just before entering [treatment].
This has been the cycle of the mother for many years....She is, in her own words, a "chronic relapser." Despite times when she was not using, this chronic relapsing is all that her children have known. It has affected these children, most noticeably [the son], who worries about her constantly. [The sons]... significant mental health and behavioral needs . . . resulted in juvenile justice involvement for an assault on the mother. The children were present when she was arrested [shortly after they entered the Departments custody]....
... The reality is that she is in the early phases of her recovery and ... the process will take up to [twenty-four] months....
... [The children] have serious behavioral and mental health needs. They have been in therapeutic foster placements and need significant supports....The son has traumatic life experiences and fears that would burden an adult; he is only [twelve] years old.[2]
[The daughter] is only four years old, but has been diagnosed with [p]ost-traumatic ...

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