Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Summary 2012 WY 29

Summary of Decision February 29, 2012

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Summaries are prepared by Law Librarians and are not official statements of the Wyoming Supreme Court

Case Name: MSH v. ALH

Citation: 2012 WY 29

Docket Number: S-11-0179


Appeal from the District Court of Carbon County, The Honorable Wade E. Waldrip, Judge

Representing Appellant (Defendant): Donna D. Domonkos, Domonkos Law Office, Cheyenne, Wyoming.

Representing Appellee (Plaintiff): John M. Burman, Faculty Supervisor, and Sarah Chavez, Student Intern, UW Legal Services Program. Argument by Ms. Chavez.

Date of Decision: February 29, 2012

Facts: Father and mother were married in Texas in 2001. The couple had three children born in 2001, 2003, and 2004. Shortly after the last child was born, Appellant (father) began serving a ten-year term of imprisonment after pleading guilty to aggravated sexual assault of a minor. The incident to which he pleaded guilty occurred before his marriage to mother, and involved him engaging in the sexual abuse of his then girlfriend’s six-year-old learning disabled daughter.

Mother filed a petition to terminate father’s parental rights to all three children. The district court held a hearing and, thereafter, entered an order terminating father’s parental rights. The district court concluded that mother had presented clear and convincing evidence that father was incarcerated for a felony conviction and that he was unfit to have custody and control of the children. In addition to considering the circumstances surrounding father’s felony conviction, the court found that father had provided no financial or physical support for the children, and his incarceration made him unable to be a parent since 2004. The court further found that, by the time father is guaranteed release from prison, he will have missed the majority of the children’s childhood years. Father appealed the order.

Issues: 1) Whether the officer’s testimony and the admission of his report into evidence was plain error; 2) Whether the officer’s testimony regarding the credibility of the victim’s statement was plain error; and 3) Whether mother presented clear and convincing evidence that father was unfit to have the custody and control of his children.

Holdings: After a careful review of the record, the Court found that plain error did not occur during the officer’s testimony or when his police report was introduced into evidence. The Court also found that the record contained clear and convincing evidence supporting the district court’s decision to terminate father’s parental rights. The Court affirmed.

J. Voigt delivered the opinion for the court.

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