In re Interest of Kane L., a child UNDER 18 YEARS OF AGE.
Angela L., APPELLANT, AND ScOTT L., APPELLEE. State of Nebraska, appellee, In re Interest of Carter L., a child under 18 years of age. State of Nebraska, appellant and cross-appellee,
Angela L., appellee and cross-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. 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.
Constitutional Law: Due Process. The
determination of whether the procedures afforded to an
individual comport with constitutional requirements for due
process presents a question of law.
Trial: Evidence: Appeal and Error. An
appellate court reviews the trial court's conclusions
with regard to evidentiary foundation for an abuse of
_: _ . Because authentication rulings are necessarily fact
specific, a trial court has discretion to determine whether
evidence has been properly authenticated. An appellate court
reviews a trial court's ruling on authentication for
abuse of discretion.
Parental Rights: Due Process. The
fundamental liberty interest of natural parents in the care,
custody, and management of their child is afforded due
process protection. Such due process rights include the right
to be free from an unreasonable delay in providing a parent a
meaningful hearing after the entry of an ex parte temporary
Neb. 835] 6. Criminal Law: Trial:
Evidence. Where objects pass through several hands
before being produced in court, it is necessary to establish
a complete chain of evidence, tracing the possession of the
object or article to the final custodian; and if one link in
the chain is missing, the object may not be introduced in
_:_:_. Objects which relate to or explain the issues or form
a part of a transaction are admissible in evidence only when
duly identified and shown to be in substantially the same
condition as at the time in issue.
Trial: Evidence: Appeal and Error. Whether
there is sufficient foundation to admit physical evidence is
determined on a case-by-case basis. An appellate court's
review concerning the admissibility of such evidence is for
an abuse of discretion.
Parental Rights. The purpose of the
adjudication phase is to protect the interests of the child.
Juvenile Courts: Jurisdiction: Parental Rights:
Proof. The Nebraska Juvenile Code does not require
the separate juvenile court to wait until disaster has
befallen a minor child before the court may acquire
jurisdiction. While the State need not prove that the child
has actually suffered physical harm, Nebraska case law is
clear that at a minimum, the State must establish that
without intervention, there is a definite risk of future
harm. The State must prove such allegations by a
preponderance of the evidence.
Appeals from the County Court for Buffalo County: John P.
Rademacher, Judge. Judgment in No. S-17-720 affirmed.
Judgment in No. S-17-775 reversed, and cause remanded for
Elizabeth J. Chrisp, of Jacobsen, Orr, Lindstrom &
Holbrook, PC, L.L.O., for Angela L., appellant in No.
S-17-720 and appellee in No. S-17-775.
J. Amy, Deputy Buffalo County Attorney, for State of
Nebraska, appellee in No. S-17-720 and appellant in No.
S. Stamm, of Stamm, Romero & Associates, P.C., L.L.O.,
guardian ad litem.
Heavican, C.J., Miller-Lerman, Cassel, Stacy, and Funke, JJ.,
and Strong, District Judge.
Neb. 836] Heavican, C.J.
and Carter L. were removed from the family home as a result
of methamphetamine use by their mother, Angela L., and their
father, Scott L. The county court for Buffalo County, sitting
as a juvenile court, adjudicated Kane but not Carter. In
separate appeals, Angela challenged Kane's adjudication
and certain rulings of the juvenile court with respect to the
petition seeking to adjudicate Carter. The State, acting
through the Buffalo County Attorney's office, appealed
the juvenile court's failure to adjudicate Carter. We
affirm the juvenile court's order adjudicating Kane and
reverse the juvenile court's order declining to
adjudicate Carter, and remand the cause for further
is the mother of Carter, born in September 2000, and Kane,
born in September 2008. Carter and Kane's biological
father is Scott. Scott and Angela are also biological parents
to Lily L. Lily was 19 years old at the time of these
proceedings. As such, Lily is not involved in these juvenile
court actions, although placement of Kane and Carter was with
her for a period of time.
January 2017, Angela gave birth to another boy. Scott is not
the biological father of this child. Angela sought to utilize
Nebraska's "Safe Haven" law with regard to
the baby; this child's placement is also not at issue in
these juvenile court actions.
provided a urine sample at the time of her admission to the
hospital prior to the baby's birth, and that sample
tested positive for drug use. Later, the baby's
"cord blood" tested positive for methamphetamine,
amphetamine, "THC, " and oxy-codone. Law
enforcement was then contacted, because of the following:
Angela wished to relinquish the baby, the positive [299 Neb.
837] drug screen, and the hospital social worker's
knowledge that Angela had other children at home.
Department of Health and Human Services and law enforcement
first contacted Angela. She admitted to using methamphetamine
and marijuana during her pregnancy, including methamphetamine
3 to 4 days before giving birth and marijuana within a day or
so of giving birth. Angela insisted that she had never used
drugs in the family home and that Scott did not use
methamphetamine. Angela declined to give permission for Kane
to submit to drug testing.
Department of Health and Human Services and law enforcement
then made contact with Scott and Kane. At this time, Carter
was on juvenile probation and was at a juvenile detention
center. Scott denied methamphetamine use and, after a few
days, gave consent for Kane to be tested.
testing was done on Kane, and an initial positive result for
both THC and methamphetamine was returned. The sample was
insufficient to test further for the presence of THC, but the
presence of methamphetamine was confirmed by a second test.
The presence of methamphetamine, but not amphetamine,
suggests that Kane's exposure was environmental in
was eventually tested. His saliva test was initially returned
as a presumptive positive for methamphetamine. Scott
indicated surprise at this result and stated that he had not
used methamphetamine in a week. Scott later indicated that he
had not used in the last 4 days. This presumptive positive
test was sent in for laboratory testing and eventually tested
negative. There was evidence in the record that the sample
was initially returned to the organization that gathered the
sample, because the wrong type of vial had been used, and
that the organization had to "buy new vials and put the
saliva into the vial and resend it." Further testing was
apparently not sought at the time, because Scott had admitted
to methamphetamine use.
Neb. 838] As a result of the safety concerns presented by
both Angela's and Scott's use of methamphetamine,
arrangements were made to place Kane and Carter, who had just
returned to the family home, with Lily. The children were
later moved to a placement with their maternal grandparents.
county filed a motion for temporary custody that was granted
ex parte on February 17, 2017. The petition to adjudicate was
filed on February 21-the next business day following the
Presidents Day court holiday. The record indicates that at
least Scott was present when Kane and Carter were removed.
The record further indicates that Scott and Angela had input
into the initial placement of the children with their oldest
daughter, Lily, and had visitation with the children
throughout, initially in the family home.
the next few days, before the first scheduled hearing on
March 8, 2017, counsel was appointed for Scott and Angela. On
March 1, both Scott and Angela filed answers, through
counsel, denying the allegations set forth in the petition to
the first hearing was scheduled to be held March 8, 2017, it
was actually held on March 1. The journal entry for that
hearing reflects that Scott and Angela were present without
counsel and were shown a rights advisory video. No bill of
exceptions for that hearing is in the record. A later journal
entry, entered June 21, indicated that a protective custody
and detention hearing had been scheduled for March 1 as well,
but that this hearing was waived by Scott's and
Angela's respective counsel as counsel sought to conduct
more discovery and indicated Scott or Angela would motion for
such a hearing if it was desired.
motions were filed by all parties, and multiple hearings were
held in the time leading up to the first adjudication hearing
held May 15, 2017, and eventual adjudication on June 30.
There is no bill of exceptions in the appellate record for
Neb. 839] Angela appeals from Kane's adjudication. The
county attorney appeals and Angela cross-appeals from the
order denying the petition to adjudicate Carter. Scott filed
a notice of appeal from Kane's adjudication, but did not
in Case No. S-17-720, In ...