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In re Justine J.

Supreme Court of Nebraska

July 18, 2014

IN RE INTEREST OF JUSTINE J. AND SYLISSA J., CHILDREN UNDER 18 YEARS OF AGE.
v.
SHAWNA R., APPELLEE STATE OF NEBRASKA, APPELLANT,

Appeal from the Separate Juvenile Court of Douglas County: ELIZABETH CRNKOVICH, Judge.

AFFIRMED.

Donald W. Kleine, Douglas County Attorney, Jennifer Crystal-Clark, and Patrick McGee, Senior Certified Law Student, for appellant.

Cassidy V. Chapman and Andrea M. Smith for appellee.

HEAVICAN, C.J., WRIGHT, CONNOLLY, STEPHAN, MCCORMACK, MILLER-LERMAN, and CASSEL, JJ.

OPINION

Page 510

[288 Neb. 608] Wright, J.

NATURE OF CASE

The State appeals from the order of the Douglas County Separate Juvenile Court

Page 511

which found that the minor children came within the meaning of Neb. Rev. Stat. § 43-292(1) and (9) (Cum. Supp. 2012), but that termination of the mother's parental rights was not in the children's best interests. The juvenile court specifically found that the State had not shown by clear and convincing evidence that such termination was in the children's best interests. We affirm.

SCOPE OF REVIEW

An appellate court reviews juvenile cases de novo on the record and reaches its conclusions independently of the juvenile court's findings. In re Interest of Kendra M. et al., 283 Neb. 1014, 814 N.W.2d 747 (2012). However, where the brief of a party fails to comply with the mandate of Neb. Ct. R. App. P. § 2-109(D)(1)(e) (rev. 2012), we may proceed as though the party failed to file a brief or, alternatively, may examine the proceedings for plain error. In re Interest of Samantha L. & Jasmine L., 286 Neb. 778, 839 N.W.2d 265 [288 Neb. 609] (2013). Plain error is error plainly evident from the record and of such a nature that to leave it uncorrected would result in damage to the integrity, reputation, or fairness of the judicial process. Id.

FACTS

This appeal involves Shawna R.'s parental rights to her biological daughters Sylissa J. and Justine J. The State did not seek to terminate the parental rights of the girls' father. Shawna has two other minor children; however, her parental rights to these two children are not the subject of this appeal.

On April 11, 2012, the State petitioned to remove Sylissa, age 14, and Justine, age 11, from Shawna's home. Both girls reported finding drug paraphernalia in the home, including pipes and needles. They reported that Shawna and her husband used drugs and alcohol regularly, left the girls alone in an unsecured house at night, did not provide food for the girls, and engaged in domestic violence. The juvenile court ...


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