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In re Interest of Joseph C.

Supreme Court of Nebraska

May 4, 2018

In re Interest of Joseph C, a child under 18 years of age.State of Nebraska, appellee.
v.
Tina E., 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. Jurisdiction: Appeal and Error. A jurisdictional question which does not involve a factual dispute is determined by an appellate court as a matter of law.

         3. 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.

         4. Standing: Words and Phrases. Standing involves a real interest in the cause of action, meaning some legal or equitable right, title, or interest in the subject matter of the controversy.

         5. Standing. Under the doctrine of standing, a court may decline to determine merits of a legal claim because the party advancing it is not properly situated to be entitled to its judicial determination.

         6. Standing: Jurisdiction: Parties. Standing is a jurisdictional component of a party's case, because only a party who has standing may invoke the jurisdiction of a court.

         7. Juvenile Courts: Standing: Appeal and Error. In assessing standing, the right of appeal in a juvenile case in Nebraska is purely statutory.

         8. Statutes: Legislature: Intent. A court gives statutory language its plain and ordinary meaning and will not look beyond the statute to determine the legislative intent when the words are plain, direct, and unambiguous.

          [299 Neb. 849] Appeal from the County Court for Lincoln County: Kent D. Turnbull, Judge. Appeal dismissed.

          James R. Korth and Brock J. Pohlmeier, of Reynolds, Korth & Samuelson, P.C., L.L.O., for appellant.

          Rebecca Harling, Lincoln County Attorney, for appellee.

          Michael L. Nozicka, of Nozicka Law Office, guardian ad litem.

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

          Derr and Urbom, District Judges.

          Derr, District Judge.

         INTRODUCTION

         This appeal arises from termination proceedings for Joseph C. in the county court for Lincoln County, sitting as a juvenile court. Tina E., the biological aunt and adoptive sister of Joseph's father, appeals the juvenile court's order which held that Joseph's placement with his nonrelative foster parents and permanency through adoption by them was in his best interests. Because Tina lacks standing pursuant to Neb. Rev. Stat. § 43-2, 106.01(2) (Reissue 2016), her appeal is dismissed.

         BACKGROUND

         Joseph, born in May 2009, is the biological child of Dana C. and Michael E. On June 10, 2015, the State, represented by the county attorney, filed a petition alleging that Joseph, then age 6, was a child within the meaning of Neb. Rev. Stat. § 43-247(3)(a) (Cum. Supp. 2014). Following an adjudication hearing on September 1, the juvenile court determined Joseph to be a child as defined by § 43-247(3)(a) (Supp. 2015). The State later initiated proceedings to terminate Dana's and Michael's parental rights.

         After being removed from the care and custody of his parents, Joseph had two different family placements. Joseph [299 Neb. 850] was initially placed with his maternal grandparents, but that placement was disrupted when the grandparents' home study was denied. Subsequently, Joseph was placed in Colorado with his maternal aunt and uncle. He remained there from August 28, 2015, to June 18, 2016. However, Joseph exhibited behavioral issues at home and at school, and he was removed at the request of the maternal aunt and uncle, who could not handle Joseph's needs.

         On June 18, 2016, Joseph was placed in the agency-based foster home of Heather F. and Kevin F. in Nebraska. Ten days later, on June 28, the juvenile court filed its order terminating the parental rights of Joseph's biological parents pursuant to Neb. Rev. Stat. § ...


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