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In re C.J.G.

Supreme Court of Montana

March 19, 2019

IN THE MATTER OF: C.J.G., A Youth in Need of Care.

          Submitted on Briefs: January 30, 2019

          APPEAL FROM: District Court of the Twelfth Judicial District, In and For the County of Hill, Cause No. DN 16-040 Honorable Daniel A. Boucher, Presiding Judge

          For Appellant: Julie Brown, Montana Legal Justice, PLLC, Missoula, Montana (for Child)

          Michael P. Sinks, Sinks Law Office, Bozeman, Montana (for Father)

          For Appellee: Timothy C. Fox, Montana Attorney General, Katie F. Schulz, Assistant Attorney General, Helena, Montana

          Karen Alley, Hill County Attorney, Havre, Montana

          OPINION

          Ingrid Gustafson Justice.

         ¶1 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 Montana Reports.

         ¶2 G.G. (Father) appeals from a May 20, 2018 order of the Twelfth Judicial District Court, Hill County, terminating his parental rights to CJ.G. (Child).[1] Father asserts the order terminating his parental rights should be reversed for two reasons: (1) the evidence did not support adjudication of Child as a youth in need of care (YTNC); and (2) Father's due process rights were violated when the District Court provided an incomplete summary of its in-chambers interview of A.G. Child appeals the termination order asserting Child received ineffective assistance of counsel. Child argues that the District Court based its findings of fact, conclusions of law, and order terminating Father's parental rights upon an incorrect impression of Child's wishes due to ineffective counsel. We affirm.

         ¶3 The Child and Family Services Division of the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services (Department) became involved after receiving a September 26, 2016 report that Father physically assaulted his sixteen-year-old daughter, A.G. A.G. reported to Child Protection Specialist (CPS) Andrew Prevost that Father grabbed her and pushed her to the ground, leaving an indentation on her arm and a bump on her head. A.G. reported she was concerned by Father's recent behavior changes, including his increasingly erratic and angry demeanor. A.G. reported she witnessed Father and his friends using drugs in the garage of their home and that she believed Father was selling drugs.

         ¶4 C.M.G. and Child provided CPS Prevost with similar accounts of Father's recent behavior. C.M.G. reported he found a glass pipe in Father's truck, a rubber strap in Father's drawer that he believed was used around a person's arm, and syringes in the trash, though he admitted the syringes could be from his grandmother. C.M.G. further reported that Father used his grandmother's pain pills.

         ¶5 Father admitted to CPS Prevost that he grabbed A.G.'s wrist during an argument, that he used methamphetamine two months prior, and that he sometimes takes pain pills from his mother when he runs out because they have the same prescription. He attributed the recent changes in his behavior to high stress due to his mother's hospitalization.

         ¶6 The Havre Police arrested Father for the reported assault against A.G. and found a methamphetamine pipe in his pocket.

         ¶7 On September 30, 2016, the Department filed a petition for emergency protective services (EPS), adjudication of Child as a YINC, and temporary legal custody (TLC). CPS Prevost alleged in his supporting ...


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