In re Interest of Jewel J.

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In re Interest of Jewel J.

Caselaw No.
Filed on
Tuesday, January 21, 2014

SUMMARY: Termination of parental rights was proper where the mother lost custody of four prior children and did not correct the conditions that led to the earlier issues or utilize the services offered to her.

Jewel, DOB 12/12, is the child of Ronnie Jo. Ronnie Jo lost custody of four other children in earlier juvenile court cases due to neglect, drug use, and failure to thrive. Ronnie Jo failed to participate in most court-ordered services in those cases and on multiple times could not be located by the caseworkers. The most recent case prior to Jewel resulted in a termination of parental rights in October 2012. In January 2013, a caseworker visited Ronnie Jo and Jewel. Ronnie Jo completed a chemical dependency evaluation and mental health assessment, the results of which recommended she begin mental health and substance abuse treatment, undergo a psychiatric evaluation, attend AA and participate in drug testing. Ronnie Jo declined to follow any of the recommendations. On January 23, 2013, the State filed a petition alleging Jewel to be within the meaning of N.R.S. 43-247(3)(a) and seeking to terminate Ronnie Jo’s parental rights. Jewel has two serious medical conditions. One condition causes benign tumors to grow, which could affect hearing and sight and will probably impact her cognitive abilities. The other condition causes tightening or weakening of neck muscles and requires daily exercises to avoid permanent deformities or development problems. During visits, Ronnie Jo failed to do the daily exercises with Jewel and became easily frustrated. She seemed unable to understand Jewel’s developmental limitations. She also declined a home visitation program that could assist her with Jewel’s medical and developmental needs. Trial was held on May 13 and 16, 2013. On May 17, 2013, the court terminated Ronnie Jo’s parental rights to Jewel pursuant to N.R.S. 43-292(2). Ronnie Jo appealed.

The Nebraska Court of Appeals affirmed the termination of parental rights. As to the ground for termination, the Court of Appeals found that the past cases where Ronnie Jo lost custody were sufficient to establish substantial or continuous neglect of a sibling. As to best interests, the Court of Appeals acknowledged that Ronnie Jo had made some improvements in her personal life but did not show significant improvement in her parenting. The issues with Jewel were the same issues with the other children and Ronnie Jo refused to participate in services to assist her. It also noted that Jewel’s serious medical needs required a consistent home that could attend to her and there was no evidence that Ronnie Jo could do that.