IN RE INTEREST OF BECKA P. ET AL., CHILDREN UNDER 18 YEARS OF AGE.
ROBERT P. AND VERONICA M., APPELLANTS. STATE OF NEBRASKA, APPELLEE,
Juvenile Courts: Jurisdiction. An appellate
court reviews juvenile cases de novo on the record and
reaches its conclusions independently of the juvenile
Jurisdiction: Appeal and Error. A
jurisdictional question which does not involve a factual
dispute is determined by an appellate court as a matter of
Juvenile Courts: Jurisdiction: Appeal and
Error. In a juvenile case, as in any other appeal,
before reaching the legal issues presented for review, it is
the duty of an appellate court to determine whether it has
jurisdiction over the matter before it.
Final Orders: Appeal and Error. Under Neb.
Rev. Stat. § 25-1902 (Reissue 2016), the three types of
final orders which may be reviewed on appeal are (1) an order
which affects a substantial right and which determines the
action and prevents a judgment, (2) an order affecting a
substantial right made during a special proceeding, and (3)
an order affecting a substantial right made on summary
application in an action after judgment is rendered.
Juvenile Courts: Final Orders: Appeal and
Error. A proceeding before a juvenile court is a
"special proceeding" for appellate purposes.
Final Orders: Words and Phrases. A
substantial right is an essential legal right, not a mere
Juvenile Courts: Parental Rights: Final Orders:
Time. Whether a substantial right of a parent has
been affected by an order in juvenile court litigation is
dependent upon both the object of the order and the [296 Neb.
366] length of time over which the parent's relationship
with the juvenile may reasonably be expected to be disturbed.
Constitutional Law: Parental Rights. Parents
have a fundamental liberty interest in directing the
education of their children.
Parental Rights: Final Orders: Time: Appeal and
Error. Orders which temporarily suspend a
parent's custody, visitation, or education rights for a
brief period of time do not affect a substantial right and
are therefore not appealable.
Parental Rights: Final Orders: Time. An
order appointing an educational surrogate which has no
limitation on its duration or scope is not a temporary order,
but, rather, one which affects the parents' substantial
right to direct the education of their child.
Jurisdiction: Appeal and Error. Generally,
once an appeal has been perfected to an appellate court, the
trial court is divested of its jurisdiction to hear a case
involving the same matter between the same parties; however,
there is statutory authority allowing the juvenile court to
retain or continue jurisdiction while appeals are pending.
Juvenile Courts: Jurisdiction: Parental Rights:
Appeal and Error. Although a juvenile court retains
jurisdiction over a juvenile while an appeal is pending, such
continuing jurisdiction is not without limits; for example,
the continuing jurisdiction of a juvenile court pending an
appeal does not include the power to terminate parental
Juvenile Courts: Jurisdiction: Final Orders: Appeal
and Error. Pending an appeal from an adjudication,
the juvenile court does not have the power to enter a
permanent dispositional order.
Juvenile Courts: Jurisdiction: Appeal and
Error. The extent of the juvenile court's
jurisdiction over a juvenile while an appeal is pending must
be determined by the facts of each case.
__:__. A juvenile court has continuing jurisdiction to issue
and rule upon an order to show cause seeking enforcement of a
previous order while the order of adjudication is pending on
Juvenile Courts: Contempt. Juvenile courts,
whether separate juvenile courts or county courts sitting as
juvenile courts, are courts of record with the statutory
authority to punish contemptuous conduct.
from the County Court for Garden County: Randin Roland,
Michael R. Snyder, of Snyder & Hilliard, PC, L.L.O., for
E. Pierce, Garden County Attorney, for appellee.
Neb. 367] Heavican, C.J., Wright, Miller-Lerman, Cassel,
Stacy. Kelch, and Funke, JJ.
P. and Veronica M. appeal from orders of the county court for
Garden County, sitting as a juvenile court, appointing an
"educational surrogate" after Robert and Veronica
refused to complete consent forms necessary to authorize
speech and language and early childhood development
assessments previously ordered by the court. We affirm.
and Veronica are the parents of Becka P.; Robert P., Jr.
(Robert Jr.); and Thomas P. In December 2015, the State filed
juvenile petitions, alleging the children-who were ages 4, 2,
and 1, respectively-came within the meaning of Neb. Rev.
Stat. § 43-247(3)(a) (Supp. 2015) due to the faults and
habits of their parents. The cases were consolidated for
trial, and the juvenile court entered orders finding the
allegations of the petitions were true as to all three
children. The orders of adjudication placed custody of the
children with the Nebraska Department of Health and Human
Services (DHHS) and, among other things, ordered a
"language and speech assessment" for Becka and an
"early childhood development assessment" for Robert
Jr. and Thomas. All assessments were to be conducted on the
children by an "Educational Services Unit" (ESU).
parents appealed the adjudication orders in all three cases.
The appeals were consolidated, and on October 19, 2016, the
Nebraska Court of Appeals affirmed the adjudications in an
unpublished memorandum opinion in cases Nos. A-16-351 through
A-16-353. The mandate issued November 23.
the parents' appeals were pending before the Court of
Appeals, the county attorney charged with enforcing court
orders filed an "Affidavit and Application for Order to
Show Cause" in the juvenile court. This application
asked that the parents and DHHS be ordered to appear and show
cause why [296 Neb. 368] they should not be held in contempt
for failing to comply with the assessments previously ordered
by the court. The record indicates the court issued an order
to show cause in each of the three cases and consolidated the
matters for purposes of the hearing.
cause hearing was held in May 2016. Evidence introduced by
the State showed the parents had signed the informed consent
forms needed by the ESU to proceed with the assessments, but
had added language indicating their signatures were not
voluntary, and had refused to consent to the release of
information between the ESU and the programs it uses to
conduct the evaluations. As such, the ESU did not consider
the consent forms sufficient to permit the assessments to be
performed and the evaluations to be completed. There was
evidence that ...