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In re Children of Bradford W.

Supreme Court of Maine

January 29, 2019

IN RE CHILDREN OF BRADFORD W.

          Submitted On Briefs: January 17, 2019

          Judgment affirmed. Harold J. Hainke, Esq., Hainke & Tash, Whitefield, for appellant father Aaron B. Rowden, Esq., Waterville, 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: ALEXANDER, MEAD, GORMAN, JABAR, HJELM, and HUMPHREY, JJ.

          PER CURIAM

         [¶l] Katie and Bradford W. appeal from a judgment of the District Court (Skowhegan, Nale, J.) terminating their parental rights to their children pursuant to 22 M.R.S. §§4050-4056 (2017). The father advances no arguments on appeal, and the mother argues that the District Court erred in taking judicial notice of prior proceedings. We conclude that the court independently assessed all facts presented and that its determination that termination of parental rights was established by clear and convincing evidence is supported by the record. We therefore affirm.

         I. BACKGROUND

         [¶2] Following a four-day termination hearing that concluded on May 11, 2018, the court issued a judgment dated June 13, 2018, in which it found by clear and convincing evidence that the mother and father were unable to take responsibility for their children within a time reasonably calculated to meet their children's needs and that it was in the best interests of the children that parental rights be terminated. See 22 M.R.S. § 4055(1)(B)(2)(a), (b)(ii). At the hearing, the Department requested that all guardian ad litem reports be admitted in evidence and that the court take judicial notice of all prior court orders in the case. Counsel for both the mother and the father stated that they had no objection. The court accordingly took judicial notice of its prior orders, the findings and conclusions of law in those orders, see In re Scott S., 2001 ME 114, U 13, 775 A.2d 1144, and the reports of the guardian ad litem, see In re Children of Melissa ¶., 2018 ME 110, ¶ 2, 191 A.3d 348.

         [¶3] The District Court included in its findings detailed descriptions of the children's medical and dental conditions, which were both numerous significant, and of each child's serious behavioral challenges. The court's finding of parental unfitness and its determination of the children's best interests were based upon the following findings of fact:

[A]t trial the mother and father did not believe that they played any role in the Department removing the children from their care
. . . [T]he father accepts very little responsibility for his children being in State custody.... [T]he father is unaware of any diagnoses of his son
During the term of the Department's involvement in this matter, the father did very little, if anything at all, to learn of the many needs of his children. The father was provided all the medicalprovider reports of his children. He failed to read any of them.... [T]he mother and father have very little insight as to the many needs of their children. Their lack of insight is their own doing.

         Despite all of the assistance the Department has offered, the parents, very late in the process, have only recently [begun] counseling with qualified mental health counselors and have not yet come to fully understand or accept how their behavior has so badly impacted their children[T]here is no time-line as to when the parents will have their own issues ...


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