S-13-0354, In re Interest of Nicole M.
S-13-0355, In re Interest of Sandra M. (Consolidated cases)
Buffalo County, Judge Graten Beavers
Attorneys: Steven Lowe (for Appellant Brandy S., natural mother) --- John M. Jensen (Yeagley Swanson Murray LLC) (for Appellee/Cross-Appellant Thomas M., natural father) --- Mandy Amy (County Attorney’s Office) and Michele Romero (GAL)
Civil: Termination of parental rights
Proceedings below: The trial court terminated parental rights to both Brandy and Tom finding statutory basis for termination under Neb. Rev. Stat. § 43-292(5), (6) and (7) and that it was in the best interests of the children.
Issues: 1. The Court did not find that the State proved grounds for termination under Neb.
Rev. Stat. § 43-292 (2)(5)(6) and (7) by clear and convincing evidence. 2. Finding that reasonable efforts to reunify the family have failed to correct the conditions leading to the determination. 3. Finding only that the juvenile has been in an out of home placement for fifteen (15) or more months of the most recent twenty-two (22) months; not finding that the mother did not rehabilitate herself to a minimum level of fitness. 4. Finding that termination of the mother's parental rights is in the child's best interest. 5. The findings made by the trial court were contrary to the evidence. 6. Minimum due process standards were not met.
Cross-Appeal: (1) The Nebraska Rules of Evidence must be applied in a juvenile termination hearing in order to ensure minimum due process standards. (2) Even under Neb. Rev. Stat. § 43-283, the procedures used did not satisfy due process. (3) The court erred in finding statutory grounds for termination. (4) The court erred in finding termination was in the children’s best interests.