In re Interest of Joseph S., et al., a child under 18 years of age. State of Nebraska, appellant,
Kerri S., appellee.
Appeal from the Separate Juvenile Court of Douglas County: ELIZABETH CRNKOVICH, Judge. Affirmed.
Donald W. Kleine, Douglas County Attorney, and Jennifer Chrystal-Clark for appellant.
Thomas C. Riley, Douglas County Public Defender, Christine D. Kellogg, and Zoë Wade for appellee.
Maureen K. Monahan, guardian ad litem.
Irwin, Pirtle, and Bishop, Judges.
1. Juvenile Courts: Appeal and Error. An appellate court reviews juvenile cases de novo on the record and reaches its conclusions independently of the juvenile court's findings. When the evidence is in conflict, however, an appellate court may give weight to the fact that the lower court observed the witnesses and accepted one version of the facts over the other.
2. Parental Rights. The right of parents to maintain custody of their child is a natural right, subject only to the paramount interest which the public has in the protection of the rights of the child.
3. Constitutional Law: Parental Rights: Due Process. The fundamental liberty interest of natural parents in the care, custody, and management of their children is afforded due process protection.
4. Parental Rights: Due Process. State intervention to terminate the parent-child relationship must be accomplished by procedures meeting the requisites of the Due Process Clause.
5. Parental Rights: Due Process: Final Orders: Appeal and Error. Due process rights are of such importance that a parent's failure to appeal from an adjudication order, dispositional order, or other final, appealable order leading to the termination of parental rights will not preclude an appellate court from reviewing the entire proceeding for a denial of due process in an appeal from a termination order.
6. Constitutional Law: Due Process. Procedural due process includes notice to the person whose right is affected by the proceeding; reasonable opportunity to refute or defend against the charge or accusation; reasonable opportunity to confront and cross-examine adverse witnesses and present evidence on the charge or accusation; representation by counsel, when such representation is required by the Constitution or statutes; and a hearing before an impartial decisionmaker.
[21 Neb.App. 707] INTRODUCTION
The State of Nebraska appeals the order of the separate juvenile court of Douglas County finding that the three minor children of Kerri S. did not come within the meaning of Neb.Rev.Stat. § 43-292(2) (Cum.Supp. 2012) and finding that it was not in the children's best interests to terminate Kerri's parental rights. This appeal presents us with an apparent issue of first impression, that being whether a parent's noncompliance with State-offered services which are voluntary in nature may serve as a basis to terminate the parent's rights under § 43-292(2). The juvenile court answered that question in the negative. Because we agree with the juvenile court, we affirm.
Kerri is the biological mother of Joseph S., born in January 2000; William S., born in November 2005; and Steven S., born in December 2006.
Kerri and the children came to the attention of the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) on March 16, 2009. In that case, Kerri was found to have completed the court-ordered and court-monitored plan. The children were returned to ...