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In re J.B.

Supreme Court of North Dakota

August 28, 2018

Interest of J.B., a child
v.
J.B., child, and Lisa Borseth, Guardian ad Litem, Respondents Ashley Lill, L.S.W., Cass County, Petitioner and Appellee and N.B., father, and J.G., mother, Respondents and Appellants

          Appeal from the Juvenile Court of Cass County, East Central Judicial District, the Honorable Scott A. Griffeth, Judicial Referee.

          Pam H. Ormand, Assistant State's Attorney, Fargo, N.D., for petitioner and appellee; submitted on brief.

          Jay R. Greenwood, Fargo, N.D., for respondent and appellant N.B., father.

          Daniel E. Gast, Fargo, N.D., for respondent and appellant J.G., mother.

          OPINION

          TUFTE, JUSTICE.

         [¶ 1] N.B., the father, and J.G., the mother, appeal from a juvenile court order finding their child, J.B., to be a deprived child and granting legal custody to Cass County Social Services. We conclude clear and convincing evidence supports the juvenile court's finding that J.B. was deprived. We affirm.

         I

         [¶ 2] In 2014, J.G. had two children removed from her care in Grand Forks and ultimately pled guilty to four felony counts of child neglect or abuse. J.G.'s parental rights to those two children were involuntarily terminated in Grand Forks in 2016. N.B. was not the father of the two children. In February 2017, J.G. was charged with failing to register as an offender against children, a felony, after she moved and failed to register her address with the Fargo police department. She pled guilty and was sentenced in September 2017 to serve ninety days of a one-year jail term with credit for time served. She completed her sentence on November 30, 2017.

         [¶ 3] In August 2017, shortly after J.B.'s birth, Cass County Social Services removed J.B. from the custody of J.G. and N.B. In September 2017, J.B. was released to N.B.'s physical custody under court order. In October 2017, Social Services petitioned the juvenile court to find J.B. was a deprived child. J.G. was serving her sentence at that time. On November 30, 2017, the court held a trial, during which social workers from Cass County Social Services and Grand Forks County Social Services testified. The court also received as evidence copies of J.G.'s 2017 criminal judgment for failing to register as an offender against children, the 2014 amended information for four felony counts of child neglect or abuse, and the 2016 findings and order terminating her parental rights to her two previous children.

         [¶ 4] In December 2017, the juvenile court issued its findings of fact and an order. The court found J.B. was in need of treatment or rehabilitation as a deprived child, granted legal custody to Cass County Social Services for a period of nine months, and granted physical custody to N.B. conditioned on J.G.'s not residing in the home until approved by Cass County Social Services. The court also ordered N.B. and J.G. to cooperate with a treatment plan that Cass County Social Services developed for the family to meet the needs of the child.

         II

         [¶ 5] Under N.D.C.C. § 27-20-03(1)(a), the juvenile court has exclusive jurisdiction over "[p]roceedings in which a child is alleged to be... deprived." This Court has recently reiterated the standard of review for a juvenile court decision:

A juvenile court's findings of fact should not be set aside, unless clearly erroneous. In re T.T., 2004 ND 138, ¶ 5, 681 N.W.2d 779. "A finding of fact is clearly erroneous under N.D.R.Civ.P. 52(a) if there is no evidence to support it, if it is clear to the reviewing court that a mistake has been made, or if the finding is induced by an erroneous view of the law." Akerlind v. Buck, 2003 ND 169, ¶ 7, 671 N.W.2d 256. "On appeal, we review the files, records, and minutes or the transcript of the evidence, and we give appreciable weight to the findings of the juvenile court." In re B.B., 2010 ND 9, ¶ 5, 777 N.W.2d 350 (citation and quotation marks omitted). Further, this Court gives due regard to the trial court's opportunity to judge the credibility of the witnesses. N.D.R.Civ.P. 52(a)(6).

Interest of P.T.D., 2018 ND 97, ¶ 5, 909 N.W.2d 692 (quoting Interest of J.A.H., 2014 ND 196, ΒΆ ...


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