In re Interest of Eli S., a child under 18 years of age.
Tammy S., appellant. State of Nebraska, appellee,
NOT DESIGNATED FOR PERMANENT PUBLICATION
Appeal from the Separate Juvenile Court of Lancaster County: Reggie L. Ryder, Judge.
Brittani Lewit and Mark T. Bestul, of Legal Aid of Nebraska, for appellant.
Alicia B. Henderson, Chief Deputy Lancaster County Attorney, Maureen Lamski, and Amy Clemens, Senior Certified Law Student, for appellee.
Julianne M. Spatz, guardian ad litem.
Irwin, Pirtle, and Bishop, Judges.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND JUDGMENT ON APPEAL
Tammy S. appeals from an order of the juvenile court for Lancaster County terminating her parental rights to her minor child, Eli S. Tammy challenges the statutory ground for termination, as well as the juvenile court's finding that termination of her parental rights is in the child's best interests. Based on our de novo review of the record, we affirm the juvenile court's order.
Tammy and Daniel B. are the parents of Eli, born in August 2012. On August 29, the State filed a second amended petition which included a request to adjudicate Eli, a motion to terminate Tammy's parental rights, and a motion requesting the court to find that reasonable efforts to reunify were not required. The petition alleged that Tammy has other children, Jay S. and Paige B., who were previously adjudicated and placed outside of her home; a plan to correct the issues that led to the adjudication was developed and adopted by the court; Tammy failed to correct the conditions that led to the adjudications of Paige and Jay; and an order was entered terminating Tammy's parental rights to Paige and Jay. The petition further alleged that Tammy had failed to correct the issues that led to the original adjudication and termination of her parental rights to Paige and Jay, thereby placing Eli at risk of harm.
In regard to the motion to terminate, the second amended petition alleged that Tammy had substantially and continuously or repeatedly neglected one or more siblings of Eli and refused to give them necessary parental care and protection. It further alleged that termination of Tammy's parental rights was in Eli's best interests.
The State also filed an ex parte motion requesting that the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (the Department) be given emergency custody of Eli. The juvenile court granted the motion and placed Eli in the temporary custody of the Department. At the time of trial, he remained in the Department's custody.
Tammy's parental rights to Jay and Paige were terminated in March 2011 based on Tammy's failure to take steps to protect her children from threats and domestic violence from Daniel, which caused physical injury to Tammy and which at times occurred in Jay's and Paige's presence. Daniel is Paige's biological father, but he is not Jay's father. The juvenile court terminated Tammy's rights to Jay and Paige based on Neb. Rev. Stat. § 43-292(2), (6), and (7) (Cum. Supp. 2012) and a finding that termination was in their best interests. This court upheld the termination of Tammy's parental rights to Jay and Paige. See In re Interest of Jay S. & Paige B., No. A-11-282, 2011 WL 5433695 (Neb.App. Nov. 8, 2011) (selected for posting to court Web site).
From the beginning to the end of the case involving Jay and Paige, Tammy consistently denied any physical abuse by Daniel, despite evidence to the contrary. She also maintained this position despite Jay's therapist testifying that Jay told him he had witnessed domestic violence. Jay's therapist also testified that Jay's defiance issues, aggressive behaviors, and anger problems are consistent with someone who has been exposed to multiple incidents of domestic violence. Tammy was aware that Daniel had a history of assaultive behavior toward individuals in addition to Tammy. His behavior included assaulting his 14-year-old sister. Although Tammy claimed at the termination trial regarding Jay and Paige that the romantic relationship with Daniel had ended, she testified that they were still friends and that the breakup occurred because Daniel was unfaithful to her, not because of his behavior or because she recognized that he was a risk to her children. The juvenile court stated in the prior termination order that the problem has always been that Tammy does not recognize that Daniel is a danger to herself and her children.
On October 12, 2012, the court ordered that the Department was not required to make reasonable efforts to preserve and reunify Tammy and Eli pursuant to Neb. Rev. Stat. § 43-283.01(4)(c) (Cum. Supp. 2012), because Tammy had previously had her parental rights terminated involuntarily to a sibling of Eli's.
Trial was held on February 26 and March 29, 2013, on the second amended petition to adjudicate and motion for termination. A copy of all the court filings in the case involving Jay and Paige was entered into evidence. A copy of the juvenile court's order terminating Tammy's parental rights to Jay and Paige, and a copy of this ...