In re SBC, No. 96,352, 96,362.

CourtSupreme Court of Oklahoma
Writing for the CourtOPALA, J.
Citation64 P.3d 1080,2002 OK 83
Docket NumberNo. 96,352, 96,362.
Decision Date29 October 2002
PartiesIn the Matter of S.B.C., Deprived child under 18 years of age. Patricia Widick, Natural Mother and James Collins, Natural Father, Appellants, v. The State of Oklahoma, Appellee.

64 P.3d 1080
2002 OK 83

In the Matter of S.B.C., Deprived child under 18 years of age.
Patricia Widick, Natural Mother and James Collins, Natural Father, Appellants,
v.
The State of Oklahoma, Appellee

No. 96,352, 96,362.

Supreme Court of Oklahoma.

October 29, 2002.


64 P.3d 1081
Patricia Widick, pro se, Tulsa, for appellant

Tim Harris, District Attorney, C. Kevin Morrison, Assistant District Attorney, Tulsa, for appellee.1

OPALA, J.

¶ 1 Certiorari was granted to resolve a point of federal constitutional law the Court of Civil Appeals (COCA) has overlooked in reviewing this case. The dispositive issue is whether the any-competent-evidence standard applied by the COCA in this parental-rights-termination case meets the level of appellate scrutiny mandated by the U.S. Constitution's Fourteenth Amendment. We answer in the negative.

THE ANATOMY OF LITIGATION

¶ 2 S.B.C. was born 5 August 2000 to petitioner Patricia Widick (Widick or mother) and James Collins (Collins or father). Widick and Collins are not married2 but live together with the mother's twelve-year-old son from a previous marriage.3 Because a job-related injury prevented the father from engaging in his occupation as a carpentry framer, he was the child's full-time caregiver.4 The mother, who worked long hours, was the primary wage earner.

¶ 3 Within the first few months of the child's life, the father reported seemingly minor accidents when the child was in his care. The first occurrence took place on October 5 when he reported the two-month-old infant had rolled off the bed onto the floor. Eight days later the father reported the child rolled off the sofa. On November 13 Collins called Widick at work to report that he had fallen while holding S.B.C. On each occasion the mother examined the child and concluded no serious harm had occurred, but noted minor abrasions including a red rope-like bruising around the infant's neck sustained during the bed incident, a small bruise on the shin from the fall off the sofa, and bruising around the eye and nose which appeared after Collins fell with the baby. S.B.C. was not taken directly to a hospital or physician as a result of the reported accidents. At a previously, regularly scheduled doctor's visit which occurred two days after the father fell while holding S.B.C. — the physician's report indicated the child was healthy and made no mention of suspected abuse. On the afternoon of November 21 the father noticed a swollen area on the infant's head and phoned the mother. Neither parent indicated there had been another accident affecting S.B.C. Both parents took the child to an emergency room where x-rays indicated S.B.C. had numerous, serious injuries sustained at different times. X-rays revealed the four-month-old infant suffered a skull fracture within the last twenty-four hours, a ten-to-fourteen-day-old healing rib fracture, and a metaphyseal lesion (commonly called a "bucket handle fracture" of the tibia, which is consistent with shaken baby syndrome).5 The infant also exhibited "petechia" on his back (a mass of red pinpoint-like marks which are common following slapping or hitting of the skin). Suspecting abuse, the emergency room physician reported the incident and the infant was placed in protective custody.

¶ 4 After a bifurcated hearing a jury found (1) S.B.C. to be a deprived child; (2) the father physically abused the child in a manner that was severe, shocking, or heinous; (3) the mother failed to protect the child from the abuse; and (4) both parents' rights should be terminated in accordance with applicable provisions of 10 O.S. Supp. 2000 § 7006-1.1.6 The trial court declared

64 P.3d 1082
S.B.C. to stand in a deprived child status and entered an order terminating the parents' rights. The mother appealed, complaining of insufficient notice of the abuse for a meaningful opportunity to protect the child and absence of evidence to support the verdict. The Court of Civil Appeals, Division II, applying the common law's any-competent-evidence standard,7 affirmed the trial court's order.8 The father's separate appeal was later withdrawn from assignment to the Court of Civil Appeals, Division II, and transferred to this court to be consolidated with the mother's earlier-granted certiorari for disposition by a single opinion

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82 practice notes
  • Andrews v. McCall, Case Number: 111905
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Oklahoma
    • October 14, 2014
    ...for clear and convincing evidence in support of the decision to terminate. In re C.D.P.F., 2010 OK 81, ¶6, 243 P.3d 21; In re S.B.C., 2002 OK 83, ¶¶5-7, 64 P.3d 1080. This Court must canvass the record to determine whether the evidence is such that a factfinder could reasonably form a firm ......
  • Ingram v. Knippers, No. 96,331.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Oklahoma
    • June 3, 2003
    ...Alford v. Thomas, 1957 OK 218, ¶ 0, 316 P.2d 188 (1957); Bishop v. Benear, 1928 OK 553, ¶ 0, 270 P. 569 (1928). See also, Matter of S.B.C., 2002 OK 83, ¶ 6, 64 P.3d 19. Ex parte State of Alabama v. L.M.S., 826 So.2d 178 (Ala.App.2002). 20. Lassiter v. Department of Social Serv., 452 U.S. 18......
  • In re Okl. Uniform Jury Instructions, No. SCAD-2005-19.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Oklahoma
    • March 28, 2005
    ...6, 82 P.3d 123, 125; Bales v. State ex rel Dep't of Human Services, 1999 OK CIV APP 96, ¶ 8, 990 P.2d 309, 311. See also Matter of S.B.C., 2002 OK 83, ¶ 7, 64 P.3d 1080, 1083 (appellate court must find clear and convincing proof of grounds for termination of parental rights to affirm). Havi......
  • Andrews v. McCall (In re Adoption of K.P.M.A.), 111,905.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Oklahoma
    • October 14, 2014
    ...for clear and convincing evidence in support of the decision to terminate. In re C.D.P.F., 2010 OK 81, ¶ 6, 243 P.3d 21 ; In re S.B.C., 2002 OK 83, ¶¶ 5–7, 64 P.3d 1080. This Court must canvass the record to determine whether the evidence is such that a factfinder could reasonably form a fi......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
82 cases
  • Andrews v. McCall, Case Number: 111905
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Oklahoma
    • October 14, 2014
    ...for clear and convincing evidence in support of the decision to terminate. In re C.D.P.F., 2010 OK 81, ¶6, 243 P.3d 21; In re S.B.C., 2002 OK 83, ¶¶5-7, 64 P.3d 1080. This Court must canvass the record to determine whether the evidence is such that a factfinder could reasonably form a firm ......
  • Ingram v. Knippers, No. 96,331.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Oklahoma
    • June 3, 2003
    ...Alford v. Thomas, 1957 OK 218, ¶ 0, 316 P.2d 188 (1957); Bishop v. Benear, 1928 OK 553, ¶ 0, 270 P. 569 (1928). See also, Matter of S.B.C., 2002 OK 83, ¶ 6, 64 P.3d 19. Ex parte State of Alabama v. L.M.S., 826 So.2d 178 (Ala.App.2002). 20. Lassiter v. Department of Social Serv., 452 U.S. 18......
  • In re Okl. Uniform Jury Instructions, No. SCAD-2005-19.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Oklahoma
    • March 28, 2005
    ...6, 82 P.3d 123, 125; Bales v. State ex rel Dep't of Human Services, 1999 OK CIV APP 96, ¶ 8, 990 P.2d 309, 311. See also Matter of S.B.C., 2002 OK 83, ¶ 7, 64 P.3d 1080, 1083 (appellate court must find clear and convincing proof of grounds for termination of parental rights to affirm). Havi......
  • Andrews v. McCall (In re Adoption of K.P.M.A.), 111,905.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Oklahoma
    • October 14, 2014
    ...for clear and convincing evidence in support of the decision to terminate. In re C.D.P.F., 2010 OK 81, ¶ 6, 243 P.3d 21 ; In re S.B.C., 2002 OK 83, ¶¶ 5–7, 64 P.3d 1080. This Court must canvass the record to determine whether the evidence is such that a factfinder could reasonably form a fi......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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