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In re Carmelo G.

Supreme Court of Nebraska

June 2, 2017

In re Interest of Carmelo G., a child under 18 years of age. State of Nebraska, appellee,
v.
Latika G., appellant.

         1. Juvenile Courts: Appeal and Error. An appellate court reviews juvenile cases de novo on the record and reaches a conclusion independently of the juvenile court's findings.

         2. Constitutional Law: Due Process. The determination of whether the procedures afforded an individual comport with constitutional requirements for procedural due process presents a question of law.

         3. Appeal and Error. On a question of law, an appellate court reaches a conclusion independently of the court below.

         4. Constitutional Law: Parental Rights. The proper starting point for legal analysis when the State involves itself in family relations is always the fundamental constitutional rights of a parent.

         5. Parental Rights. The interest of parents in the care, custody, and control of their children is perhaps the oldest of the fundamental liberty interests recognized by the U.S. Supreme Court.

         6. 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.

         7. Juvenile Courts: Parental Rights. Neb. Rev. Stat. § 43-248(2) (Cum. Supp. 2014) allows the State to take a juvenile into custody without a warrant or order of the court when it appears the juvenile is seriously endangered in his or her surroundings and immediate removal appears to be necessary for the juvenile's protection. However, the parent retains a liberty interest in the continuous custody of his or her child.

         8. Parental Rights: Notice. The State may not, in exercising its parens patriae interest, unreasonably delay in notifying a parent that the State [296 Neb. 806] has taken emergency action regarding that parent's child nor unreasonably delay in providing the parent a meaningful hearing. 9. Appeal and Error. An appellate court is not obligated to engage in an analysis that is not necessary to adjudicate the case and controversy before it.

         Appeal from the Separate Juvenile Court of Douglas County: Vernon Daniels, Judge. Order vacated, and cause remanded for further proceedings.

          Thomas C. Riley, Douglas County Public Defender, and Zoe R. Wade for appellant.

          Donald W. Kleine, Douglas County Attorney, and Paulette Merrell for appellee.

          Kate E. Placzek, of Law Office of Kate E. Placzek, guardian ad litem.

          Heavican, C.J., Wright, Miller-Lerman, Cassel, Stacy, Kelch, and Funke, JJ.

          Miller-Lerman, J.

         NATURE OF CASE

         On January 5, 2016, the State filed a petition in the separate juvenile court of Douglas County against Carmelo G.'s biological parents, Latika G. and Deontrae H. The State alleged that Carmelo lacked parental care by reason of the fault or habits of Latika and Deontrae. On that same day, January 5, the juvenile court filed an ex parte order in which it granted the State's motion for temporary custody of Carmelo with the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). A protective custody hearing was held on January 21, but it was continued over many dates until it was concluded on August 2. On September 19, the juvenile court filed an order in which it ordered that Carmelo remain in the temporary custody of DHHS until further order of the ...


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