IN THE MATTER OF: P.T.D., A Youth in Need of Care.
Submitted on Briefs: May 9, 2018
FROM: DISTRICT COURT OF THE TWELFTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT, IN AND
FOR THE COUNTY OF HILL, CAUSE NO. DN-15-010 HONORABLE DANIEL
A. BOUCHER, PRESIDING JUDGE .
APPELLANT: SUSAN CALLAGHAN, CALLAGHAN LAW, PLLC, BUTTE,
APPELLEE: TIMOTHY C. FOX, MONTANA ATTORNEY GENERAL, KATIE F.
SCHULZ, ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL, HELENA, MONTANA
JESSICA COLE-HODGKINSON, HILL COUNTY ATTORNEY, HAVRE, MONTANA
McGrath Chief Justice.
This is an appeal from a Twelfth Judicial District Court
order terminating the parental rights of A.M., the putative
father of P.T.D. We affirm.
We restate the issue on appeal as follows:
the District Court was required to comply with the
requirements of the Indian Child Welfare Act when terminating
A.M.'s parental rights.
AND FACTUAL BACKGROUND
P.T.D. was born on February 28, 2014. In early March 2015,
P.T.D. was taken from his birth mother's (Birth Mother)
care after Birth Mother was found passed out and intoxicated
while P.T.D. was in her custody. On March 3, 2015, the
Department of Public Health and Human Services, Child and
Family Services Division (the Department) filed a Petition
for Emergency Protective Services, Adjudication as Youth in
Need of Care and Temporary Legal Custody, identifying P.T.D.
as an Indian child subject to the Indian Child Welfare Act
(ICWA). P.T.D. is a member of or eligible for membership in
the Fort Peck Indian Tribe.
On March 4, 2015, the District Court signed an order granting
the Department's petition for emergency protective
services and scheduled a show cause hearing. That same day,
the Department sent notice of the March 12, 2015 show cause
hearing to the Fort Peck Indian Tribe. Although Birth Mother
was successfully served with the Department's petition
and show cause order, A.M. was unable to be located. On March
11, 2015, the Department filed a motion to dismiss the
petition because P.T.D.'s maternal great-aunt was given
custody by the Fort Peck Tribal Court. The District Court
dismissed the case on March 12, 2015.
On May 19, 2015, P.T.D.'s maternal great-aunt gave up
custody. At that time, Birth Mother was incarcerated for
underage drinking and treatment court violations. P.T.D. was
then placed with his maternal aunt. On May 29, 2015, the
Department filed a second Petition for Emergency Protective
Services, Adjudication as Youth in Need of Care and Temporary
Legal Custody. On June 2, 2015, the District Court ordered
Birth Mother and A.M. to appear for a show cause hearing on
June 12, 2015. A notice was also sent to the Fort Peck Indian
Tribe regarding the Department's petition and District
Court's order for a show cause hearing. The hearing was
reset for June 22, 2015, because no qualified expert witness
was available to testify as to P.T.D.'s placement.
At the June 22 show cause hearing Trudy Johnson, an ICWA
qualified expert witness, testified that placement with
P.T.D.'s maternal aunt was appropriate. On June 26, 2015,
the District Court granted the Department's May 29
petition for temporary legal custody and adjudicated P.T.D.
as a youth in need of care, based on the stipulation of the
parties. The District ...