Submitted On Briefs: June 26, 2019
Kristina Dougherty, Esq., Chester & Vestal, P.A.,
Portland, for appellant mother
M. Frey, Attorney General, and Meghan Szylvian, Asst. Atty.
Gen., Office of the Attorney General, Augusta, for appellee
Department of Health and Human Services
Kellett Gray, Esq., Brooklin, for appellees maternal
SAUFLEY, C.J., and ALEXANDER, MEAD, GORMAN, HJELM, and
Shaina T. appeals from a judgment of the District Court
(Waterville, Montgomery, J.) terminating her
parental rights to her child and the court's denial of
her motion for relief from that judgment pursuant to M.R.
Civ. P. 60(b)(6). She challenges the court's parental
unfitness and best interest determinations and contends that
the court erred in denying her motion for relief based on her
claim of ineffective assistance of counsel. We affirm the
The following facts are drawn from the court's findings,
which are supported by the evidence, and from the procedural
record. See In re Children of Corey W., 2019 ME 4,
¶ 2, 199 A.3d 683.
In January 2016, the Department of Health and Human Services
was notified by a Waterville police detective that the child
at issue in this case-who was two years old at the time-was
residing with her mother in an apartment in Waterville where
police found drugs, drug paraphernalia, and several
intoxicated adults while investigating a burglary. The
Department also discovered that the mother was advertising
herself on a website often used to facilitate prostitution.
Although the mother initially refused to cooperate with the
Department, she ultimately agreed to participate in the
safety assessment process and signed a safety plan. When the
mother violated that safety plan in February 2016, the
Department filed a petition for a child protection and
preliminary protection order. The court [Stanfill,
J.) issued a preliminary protection order at that time,
granting custody of the child to the Department, which placed
her with her maternal grandparents.
In May 2016, when the mother's drug screen results were
satisfactory and the Department determined that she had safe
and stable housing, the court [Matthews, J.) entered
a jeopardy order returning the child to her custody with
conditions. The child remained in the mother's care until
the mother was arrested for selling drugs in September 2016.
The child was again placed with her maternal grandparents; in
October 2016, the court [Stanfill, J.) entered a
judicial review order granting custody of the child directly
to the grandparents.
The mother eventually pleaded guilty to three counts of
unlawful trafficking of scheduled drugs and two counts of
violation of a condition of release. She was sentenced to
five years of incarceration, with all but eighteen months
suspended, and three years of probation. The mother remained
incarcerated until January 2018.
Visits between the mother and the child began again in
February 2018. Around that time, the child began to cry more
often, withdraw from her friends at school, and cling to
In March 2018, the Department filed a petition to terminate
the mother's parental rights; a one-day hearing was held
on the petition in September 2018. Following the hearing, the
court [Montgomery, J.) entered a judgment
terminating the mother's parental rights. Based on clear
and convincing evidence in the record, the court determined
that the mother was unable or unwilling to protect the child
from jeopardy or take responsibility for the child, and that
those circumstances were unlikely to change within a time
reasonably calculated to meet the child's needs.
See 22 M.R.S. § ...