briefs: May 30, 2019
Berner, Esq., Portland, for appellant father
Valerie A. Randall, Esq., Hanly Law, Portland, for appellant
M. Frey, Attorney General, and Meghan Szylvian, Asst. Atty.
Gen., Office of the Attorney General, Augusta, for appellee
Department of Health and Human Services
SAUFLEY, C.J., and ALEXANDER, GORMAN, JABAR, HJELM, and
Dawn B. and Michael L. both appeal from a judgment of the
District Court (Portland, Eggert, J.) terminating
their parental rights to their child. The mother challenges
only the court's denial of her motion for relief from the
termination judgment in which she alleged that she received
ineffective assistance of counsel during the proceedings. The
father argues that there was insufficient evidence to support
the termination of his parental rights. We affirm the
On March 23, 2017, the Department of Health and Human
Services instituted child protection proceedings on behalf of
this child as to both parents, alleging that the child had
been in the care of the maternal grandparents since birth and
that the maternal grandparents were unable to adequately care
for the child. See 22 M.R.S. § 4032 (2018).
The parents later agreed to the entry of a jeopardy order in
which the court found that the parents have never been
primary caretakers for the child; that their apartment was
unsuitable for reunification; and that the father lacked
basic parenting skills, has anger management issues, has been
verbally abusive to the mother while he was holding the
child, has a history of domestic violence, abuses alcohol,
suffers from anxiety and depression, and has health issues
that impair his ability to care for the child. See
22 M.R.S. §§ 4002(6), 4035, 4036 (2018). With the
agreement of the parties, the court entered judicial review
and permanency planning orders dated January 25, 2018, and
July 27, 2018, maintaining custody of the child with the
On September 6, 2018, the Department petitioned to terminate
the mother's and father's parental rights, alleging
that neither parent had engaged in any of the rehabilitation
and reunification services necessary to alleviate jeopardy.
See 22 M.R.S. § 4052 (2018). After a
testimonial hearing, the court entered a judgment terminating
both parents' rights to the child. See 22 M.R.S.
§ 4054 (2018). The court made the following findings of
fact, which are supported by competent record evidence.
[The mother] reports that she was unaware that she was
pregnant until she arrived at the emergency room When their
child was ready to leave the hospital, the parents realized
that they were not prepared to bring home and raise a baby.
They agreed to place their child with [the mother's]
parents. Very little about the parents['] ability to
raise a child has changed since that time.
Unfortunately, the placement of the child with the
mother's parents turned out to be not appropriate [and] .
. . the child was removed from the grandparents and a new
placement was arranged....
....The parents have not had much success in completing the
[rehabilitation and reunification] plan.
The mother has completed a parenting course, and has had
regular visitation with her child since January 2018. That
visitation continues to be fully supervised and [the mother]
requires many prompts from the supervisor to appropriately
tend to her child and keep her safe. This contact with her
child is well short of demonstrating her ability to take on a
primary care role for the child. [The mother] did attend some
counseling but began to miss appointments and that counseling
stopped without [the mother] having made any progress toward
the goals of the counseling. [The mother] has been unable at
this time and throughout the pendency of the case to obtain
housing suitable for reunification with her child. . . . The
summary of [the mother's diagnostic evaluation] is that
[the mother] has a poor prognosis for being able to
successfully address the jeopardy which continues to exist in
this case. [The mother] has not ...