Submitted on Briefs: March 13, 2019
FROM: District Court of the Eighteenth Judicial District, In
and For the County of Gallatin, Cause No. DN 16-22B Honorable
Rienne McElyea, Presiding Judge.
Appellee: Timothy C. Fox, Montana Attorney General, Katie F.
Schulz, Assistant Attorney General, Helena, Montana Marty
Lambert, Gallatin County Attorney, Deborah Pratt, Deputy
County Attorney, Bozeman, Montana
Appellant: Mark Taylor, self-represented, Bozeman, Montana
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
M.T. (Father) appeals from a May 3, 2018 order of the
Eighteenth Judicial District Court terminating Father's
parental rights to A.B. (Child). We affirm.
Child was born in 2004 and is the biological child of D.B.
(Mother) and Father. On March 9, 2016, an ex-boyfriend
murdered Mother. Prior to her death, Child lived with Mother.
For a brief period after Mother's death, Child resided
with Father, his roommate, and his roommate's daughter,
in a hotel room in Belgrade, Montana. During this time,
Father repeatedly called 911, used vulgar language, and
received a citation for misusing the emergency system. On
June 10, 2016, after Child stated that Father threatened to
kill Child and Child's dogs, the Department removed Child
from Father's care. The Department offered Father a
voluntary protection plan to prevent Child's removal, but
Father refused. Father became increasingly agitated after the
Department removed Child, alleging that Mother's murder
was part of a conspiracy to hide child abuse and remove Child
On September 9, 2016, following a contested adjudicatory
hearing, the District Court adjudicated Child as a youth in
need of care (YINC) within the meaning of § 41-3-102,
MCA. At the hearing, Father testified that he believed
everything was an interconnected conspiracy between the
Department, law enforcement, his attorney, Child's
guardian ad litem, Child's principal, and the District
Court, dating back to his parenting plan with Mother. Father
stated he had evidence that "everybody" falsified
documents and tampered with recordings to cover up
Mother's murder and child abuse by Child's
step-father, C.W. Child testified in chambers that she had a
good relationship with C.W. and thought of him as family.
On October 31, 2016, the District Court granted temporary
legal custody to the Department and approved and ordered
Father to complete a treatment plan addressing the issues
rendering Father unfit or unable to parent Child. The
treatment plan required Father to complete specific tasks
addressing Father's mental health issues, lack of safe
and stable housing, and parenting skills, including his
ability to support, communicate with, respect, and understand
Child's developmental needs. Father submitted to a brief
psychological evaluation with clinical psychologist, Dr.
Chessen, and attended some family therapy sessions, but
otherwise stated he would not engage in the tasks required by
the treatment plan. Father believed the treatment plan was
part of the conspiracy between the Department, law
enforcement, and the District Court.
Father's July 29, 2016 psychological evaluation with Dr.
Chessen revealed traits consistent with paranoid personality
disorder. Dr. Chessen verified his diagnosis with retired
psychologist Dr. Wagner, who had previously worked with
Father and diagnosed him with paranoid personality disorder.
Family therapy sessions agitated Father. In therapy, Father
focused his attention on past events. After Child refused to
attend an August 18, 2016 therapy session with Father, Father
left threatening messages on the therapist's voicemail.
Thereafter, the therapist discontinued family therapy. Father
did not complete any other tasks designed to address his
mental health or improve his parenting skills.
Due to Father's lack of engagement and progress in
completing the treatment plan, the Department filed a
petition to terminate Father's parental rights. The
Department sought to terminate Father's parental rights
on the basis that Father failed to complete his treatment
plan and the conduct or condition rendering Father unfit to
parent Child was unlikely to change within a reasonable time.
See § 41-3-609(1)(f), MCA.
In November 2017, Father was charged with three counts of
violating privacy in communications, a misdemeanor, pursuant
to § 45-8-213, MCA, for repeatedly leaving Child
Protection Specialist ...