Submitted on Briefs: January 24, 2018
Court of the Ninth Judicial District, In and For the County
of Toole, Cause No. DN 13-002 Honorable Robert G. Olson,
Appellant: Susan Callaghan, Callaghan Law, PLLC, Butte,
Appellee: Timothy C. Fox, Montana Attorney General, Tammy K
Plubell, Assistant Merle Raph, Toole County Attorney, Shelby,
Pursuant to Section I, Paragraph 3(c), Montana Supreme Court
Internal Operating Rules, this case is decided by memorandum
opinion and shall not be cited and does not serve as
precedent. Its case title, cause number, and disposition
shall be included in this Court's quarterly list of
noncitable cases published in the Pacific Reporter and
R.T. (Mother) appeals the Ninth Judicial District Court's
findings of fact, conclusions of law, and order terminating
her parental rights to her child, S.T. We affirm.
The Department of Public Health and Human Services
(Department) filed a petition for temporary investigative
authority and protective services for S.T.-then approximately
ten years old-on April 24, 2013, after it received a report
that S.T.'s parents were using methamphetamine and that
S.T. witnessed physical fights between them. The District
Court granted the petition and placed S.T. in the custody of
his maternal aunt. The court later adjudicated S.T. a youth
in need of care and granted the Department temporary legal
custody of S.T.
The Department developed a treatment plan for Mother, which
obligated her to: "abstain from all drugs and
alcohol"; attend chemical dependency treatment sessions
as recommended by Misfits, LLC, a treatment and counseling
center; submit to the Department's random drug testing;
attend mental health counseling sessions once every two
weeks; and participate in domestic violence counseling and a
domestic violence support group, among other requirements.
Mother did not object to the plan, and the District Court
approved it in September 2013.
Mother reported using methamphetamine regularly until August
2013, once in late September 2013, and once in December 2013.
She entered inpatient chemical dependency treatment in
October 2013, but did not complete the program. With the
assistance of Misfits, Mother entered a second treatment
program, which she successfully completed. After her
discharge, Mother attended eighteen of thirty-two scheduled
appointments with Julie Messerly, a licensed addiction
counselor at Misfits.
Mother met with a mental health counselor, Mary Meis, until
November 2014, but then stopped when Meis retired. She
successfully completed the domestic-violence related
requirements of her treatment plan. Mother refused to submit
to drug tests on various occasions in 2014 and early 2015,
but later cooperated with this requirement.
The Department filed a petition for permanent legal custody
and termination of parental rights with right to consent to
adoption in May 2015. The Department alleged that Mother had
failed to comply with the treatment plan and that her conduct
was "unlikely to change within a reasonable time."
The District Court held termination hearings on December 15
and 16, 2016, and on March 20, 2017.
The court heard testimony from numerous witnesses. Corin
Fisch, a mental health counselor with Misfits, testified that
she had diagnosed Mother with borderline personality
disorder. Fisch stated that Mother was in "partial
compliance" with the treatment plan's requirement
that she receive mental health counseling, noting that she
attended many, but not all, of her appointments. Fisch
testified that Mother admitted to having recently used
marijuana and a pain pill without a prescription. Mother
testified to using marijuana "from time to time."
Dr. Thomas Krajacich, a clinical psychologist who evaluated
S.T., diagnosed S.T. with cognitive disorder, attention
deficit hyperactivity disorder, psychotic disorder, anxiety
disorder, and oppositional defiant disorder. Dr. Krajacich
testified that S.T. required "a stable, safe ...