Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

In re Child of Stephen E.

Supreme Court of Maine

May 22, 2018

IN RE CHILD OF STEPHEN E.

          Submitted On Briefs: April 25, 2018

          Valerie A. Randall, Esq., Rioux, Donahue, Chmelecki & Peltier LLC, Portland, for appellant father

          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, GORMAN, JABAR, HJELM, and HUMPHREY, JJ.

          PER CURIAM

         [¶l] Stephen E. appeals from a judgment of the District Court (Waterville, Mathews, J.) terminating his parental rights to his child pursuant to 22 M.R.S. §4055(1)(A)(1)(a) and (B)(2)(a), (b)(i)-(iv) (2017).[1] He raises directly on appeal a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel at the hearing on the petition to terminate his parental rights.[2] The father does not challenge the merits of the court's judgment terminating his parental rights. Because the father failed to present a prima facie case of ineffective assistance of counsel and the record evidence supports the court's findings and discretionary determinations, we affirm the judgment.

         I. CASE HISTORY

         [¶2] In July 2016, the mother of the child relocated from New York to Maine, bringing the child with her.[3] After being notified by New York child protective authorities of an open case in New York and after another child in the mother's home made a plea for help, the Maine Department of Health and Human Services began an investigation. On August 5, 2016, the Department and law enforcement officials placed the child in a six-hour hold, see 15 M.R.S. § 35Ol(1)-(2) (2017), due to safety concerns for the child and the mother's unwillingness to cooperate. The Department then initiated this child protection proceeding. See 22 M.R.S. § 4032 (2017). The court [Dow, J.) entered a preliminary protection order, placing the child in Department custody. See 22 M.R.S. §§ 4034, 4036 (2017).

         [¶3] On August 22, 2016, a summary preliminary hearing was held. The court (E Walker, /.) determined that the father, who did not appear but was represented by counsel, had not been provided with sufficient notice. The father did participate telephonically in a case management conference held that same day. See M.R. Civ. P. 43(a).

         [¶4] The court [Mathews, J.) held a contested jeopardy hearing in December 2016 at which the father participated telephonically. By order dated January 19, 2017, the court found jeopardy to the child based on the following facts:

This family came to the Department's attention when the State of New York notified the Maine Department of Health and Human Services ... of an open case it had with [the mother]. [The mother] had left New York with [her children] to reside in Maine. [The mother] left New York, in large part to escape from [the father] who had subjected her to domestic violence for several years
[The father] has subjected [the mother] to physical and emotional abuse. The Court finds [the mother's] testimony on the domestic violence very credible. The physical abuse included scratching, biting, cutting, kicking and punching [the mother]. In 2013, [the mother] was hospitalized with four broken ribs, a fat lip and two black eyes from a beating administered by [the father]. In late July 2016 [the father] broke into [the mother's] residence and sexually assaulted her. During this event, both of [the mother's children] were sleeping in her bed. In the middle of the assault [the child] awoke and asked his father . . . why he was hurting his mother. Shortly after this event [the mother] fled New York to Maine with the assistance of a police officer and a domestic violence agency.
[The father] denies that he abused [the mother] despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. The Court does not find him believable. In his estimation, the only reason [the mother] was able to keep [the children] from going into state custody in New York was because he lived with them. Irrespective of this position, [the father] voluntarily left the home in March 2016. He abandoned [the child] in circumstances he felt were unsafe because he "knew DHHS would catch up with [the mother]." [The father] takes no responsibility for the abuse he perpetrated, the trauma he inflicted on his child and his abdication of his parental role. The Court finds that [the father] has subjected [the child] to treatment heinous and abhorrent to society as contemplated by 22 M.R.S. § 4002 (1-B) (A)(1) and has abandoned [the child] as contemplated by 22 M.R.S. § 4002 (1-A)(F).

         [¶5] Based on its finding of two aggravating factors-that the father had abandoned the child and that the father had subjected the child to treatment heinous and abhorrent to society-the court relieved the Department of its obligation to pursue reunification efforts with the father. ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.