In re KN, No. 00-1022.

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Iowa
Writing for the CourtCADY, Justice.
Citation625 N.W.2d 731
Docket NumberNo. 00-1022.
Decision Date25 April 2001
PartiesIn the Interest of K.N., Minor Child, Robert J. Phelps, Guardian ad litem, Appellant.

625 N.W.2d 731

In the Interest of K.N., Minor Child,
Robert J. Phelps, Guardian ad litem, Appellant

No. 00-1022.

Supreme Court of Iowa.

April 25, 2001.


625 N.W.2d 732
Robert J. Phelps, Davenport, guardian ad litem for K.N., appellant

Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, Tabitha Gardner, Assistant Attorney General, and Gerda Lane, Assistant County Attorney, for appellee-State.

John E. Molyneaux, Davenport, for K.N.

Cynthia Z. Taylor and Cristina Frederick of Zamora, Taylor, Clark, Alexander, Woods and Frederick, Davenport, for appellee-parents, T.N. and J.N.

Considered en banc.

CADY, Justice.

In this appeal we must decide if the juvenile court may dismiss a child in need of assistance (CINA) action based on the finding that the services offered to the child provided no benefit and that the additional expenditure of public funds and resources would not benefit the child in the future. The guardian ad litem of the child claims the juvenile court utilized inappropriate criteria and abused its authority in dismissing the CINA case. We reverse and remand for further proceedings.

I. Background Facts and Proceedings.

K.N. and her sister J.P. were adjudged children in need of assistance in 1997. Since that time, the Department of Human Services (DHS) has provided a variety of services to the children and their parents. The children were removed from their parents' home at various times and placed in a variety of treatment and placement facilities.

Both the parents and the children have serious substance abuse problems. Sadly, K.N. began using drugs at a very early age. Repeated drug treatment efforts have failed. At times, the children appeared to progress in treatment facilities and other placements, particularly K.N., but they would eventually regress after returning to their parents.

A review hearing was held on April 24, 2000. At the time, K.N. was fourteen years old and J.P. was seventeen years old. J.P. was in a residential facility and was present at the hearing. K.N., however, had run away from her placement. The DHS believed she was outside of our state's borders. She was not present at the hearing.

The State recommended residential placement for both J.P. and K.N. J.P.'s attorney, her parents, and her guardian ad litem requested the action against J.P. be dismissed based on her age, lack of progress in response to services, and resistance to further treatment and placement.

K.N.'s attorney recommended K.N. be permitted to return to her parents. K.N.'s parents and guardian ad litem both agreed with the State that a protective facility was the more appropriate disposition.

The juvenile court dismissed the actions against both J.P. and K.N. It observed that service providers had "expended a tremendous amount of money for very little gain" realized by the children and the parents during the three years of services, and did not believe it was appropriate "to spend any more." The court also reasoned

625 N.W.2d 733
that the continuation of services was not likely to result in success

The guardian ad litem filed a Rule 179(b) motion requesting the juvenile court to reconsider its decision to dismiss K.N.'s CINA case. The guardian ad litem did not contest the dismissal of J.P.'s CINA case. The guardian ad litem argued that at fourteen years of age, K.N. was too young for the juvenile system to abandon, and that, unlike J.P., K.N. was amenable to services. At the very least, the guardian ad litem asserted, the juvenile court should retain jurisdiction of K.N. simply to protect her.

In denying the motion to reconsider, the juvenile court advanced the same reasons as delineated in its order dismissing J.P. and K.N.'s CINA cases. The court again noted the DHS had already expended a considerable amount of monetary and remedial resources on K.N., to little or no avail. Believing these past expenditures had not impacted K.N., the court refused to spend any "further public monies" on K.N., even though K.N. was still "at risk." The court concluded that "[t]he money and resources are better invested in children and families that we can make a beneficial impact."

The guardian ad litem appeals. He contends the juvenile court abused its discretion and utilized inappropriate criteria in dismissing K.N.'s CINA case.

II. Scope of Review.

Our review of child in need of assistance proceedings is de novo. In re H.G., 601 N.W.2d 84, 85 (Iowa 1999); In re E.H. III, 578 N.W.2d 243, 248 (Iowa 1998); In re N.C., 551 N.W.2d 872, 872 (Iowa 1996). "We review `both the facts and the law, and we adjudicate rights anew.'" H.G., 601 N.W.2d at 85 (quoting In re A.M.H., 516 N.W.2d 867, 870 (Iowa 1994) (citation omitted)). Although we give weight to the juvenile court's factual findings, we are not bound by them. E.H. III, 578 N.W.2d at 248; A.M.H., 516 N.W.2d at 870. As in all juvenile proceedings, our fundamental concern is the best interests of the child. E.H. III, 578 N.W.2d at 248; N.C., 551 N.W.2d at 872.

III. Termination of Dispositional Order.

Iowa Code section 232.103 (1999) governs the termination of a dispositional order in a CINA case prior to its expiration. See In re Guardianship of Murphy, 397 N.W.2d 686, 689 (Iowa 1986); In re H.J.E., 359 N.W.2d 471, 474 (Iowa 1984); In re G.R., 348 N.W.2d 627, 630 (Iowa 1984). The specific section that governs termination and release of a child is section 232.103(4), which states

The court may terminate an order and release the child if the court finds that the purposes of the order have been accomplished and the child is no longer in need of supervision, care or treatment.

Iowa Code § 232.103(4) (emphasis added). Thus, a juvenile court is authorized to terminate a dispositional order only if "the purposes of the [dispositional] order have been accomplished and the...

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224 practice notes
  • Endress v. Iowa Dep't of Human Servs., No. 18-1329
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • May 29, 2020
    ...(Iowa 2010) ("The state has a legitimate interest to promote the public welfare or the well-being of the child."); In re K.N. , 625 N.W.2d 731, 735 (Iowa 2001) (en banc) ("We have also observed that it is the State's duty, as parens patriae, to ensure that the aims of the juv......
  • In re Thatcher, No. 13–2044.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • June 5, 2015
    ...the inherent authority to do what is reasonably necessary for the administration of justice in a case before the court.”); In re K.N., 625 N.W.2d 731, 734 (Iowa 2001) (acknowledging district courts' “authority to ensure the orderly, efficient, and fair administration of justice”); Johnson v......
  • In re J.E., No. 06-0459.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • November 17, 2006
    ...and convincing evidence. In re T.B., 604 N.W.2d 660, 661 (Iowa 2000). Our primary concern is the best interests of the child. In re K.N., 625 N.W.2d 731, 733 (Iowa In seeking out those best interests, we look to the child's long-range as well as immediate interests. This requires considerin......
  • In re J.C., No. 14–0288.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • December 26, 2014
    ...653 N.W.2d 359, 361 (Iowa 2002). When so doing, “[w]e review both the facts and the law, and we adjudicate rights anew.” In re K.N., 625 N.W.2d 731, 733 (Iowa 2001) (internal quotation marks omitted). When the issue requires statutory interpretation, however, we review for correction of err......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
224 cases
  • Endress v. Iowa Dep't of Human Servs., No. 18-1329
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • May 29, 2020
    ...(Iowa 2010) ("The state has a legitimate interest to promote the public welfare or the well-being of the child."); In re K.N. , 625 N.W.2d 731, 735 (Iowa 2001) (en banc) ("We have also observed that it is the State's duty, as parens patriae, to ensure that the aims of the juv......
  • In re Thatcher, No. 13–2044.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • June 5, 2015
    ...the inherent authority to do what is reasonably necessary for the administration of justice in a case before the court.”); In re K.N., 625 N.W.2d 731, 734 (Iowa 2001) (acknowledging district courts' “authority to ensure the orderly, efficient, and fair administration of justice”); Johnson v......
  • In re J.E., No. 06-0459.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • November 17, 2006
    ...and convincing evidence. In re T.B., 604 N.W.2d 660, 661 (Iowa 2000). Our primary concern is the best interests of the child. In re K.N., 625 N.W.2d 731, 733 (Iowa In seeking out those best interests, we look to the child's long-range as well as immediate interests. This requires considerin......
  • In re J.C., No. 14–0288.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • December 26, 2014
    ...653 N.W.2d 359, 361 (Iowa 2002). When so doing, “[w]e review both the facts and the law, and we adjudicate rights anew.” In re K.N., 625 N.W.2d 731, 733 (Iowa 2001) (internal quotation marks omitted). When the issue requires statutory interpretation, however, we review for correction of err......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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