In re TL, No. 97,308.

CourtUnited States State Court of Criminal Appeals of Oklahoma. Court of Civil Appeals of Oklahoma
Citation71 P.3d 43,2003 OK CIV APP 49
Decision Date29 April 2003
PartiesIn the Matter of T.L. and L.N., Deprived Children. State of Oklahoma, Plaintiff/Appellee, v. D.N., Natural Mother, Defendant/Appellant.
Docket NumberNo. 97,308.

71 P.3d 43
2003 OK CIV APP 49

In the Matter of T.L. and L.N., Deprived Children.
State of Oklahoma, Plaintiff/Appellee,
v.
D.N., Natural Mother, Defendant/Appellant

No. 97,308.

Court of Civil Appeals of Oklahoma, Division No. 2.

April 29, 2003.


71 P.3d 44
Jeffery J. Sheridan, Assistant District Attorney, Muskogee, OK, for Plaintiff/Appellee

J. Eric Jones, Muskogee, OK, for Defendant/Appellant.

Released for Publication by Order of the Court of Civil Appeals of Oklahoma, Division No. 2.

Opinion by JOE C. TAYLOR, Presiding Judge:

¶ 1 Natural mother, Debra Newton (Mother), seeks review of a judgment on a jury verdict terminating her parental rights to two minor children, T.L. and L.N. (Children). A third child, A.N., was originally a subject of this proceeding, but while the action was pending, reached the age of majority and has been dismissed from the case. The two issues raised by Mother on appeal are (1) whether the State of Oklahoma (State) presented evidence sufficient to sustain its burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that Mother's parental rights should be terminated; and (2) whether the trial court erred in admitting evidence concerning the conditions that existed when Children were adjudicated deprived. Based on our review of the record, the parties' briefs, and the applicable law, we answer the first question in the affirmative and the second in the negative. We find, however, the termination order is defective in that it does not contain certain mandatory findings required by Rule 8.2, Rules for District Courts of Oklahoma, 12 O.S.2001, ch. 2, app. We therefore affirm the judgment of termination but remand with instructions to enter a corrected final order that complies with Rule 8.2.

¶ 2 In July 1998, A.N., then age 16, T.L., age four, and L.N., age two, were taken into emergency protective custody based on allegations of sexual abuse of A.N., a genital injury to T.L., and general neglect and endangerment.1 State petitioned for adjudication

71 P.3d 45
of all three children as deprived on grounds that they did not receive proper parental care and guardianship, that their home was "filthy and unsafe for young children," and that the two youngest children appeared malnourished. The petition also alleged the rape of A.N., and the injury to T.L., and Mother's failure to protect the children. Mother stipulated to the allegations of the petition, and, in August 1998, the court entered an order adjudicating the children deprived. The Cherokee Nation later was permitted to intervene, and it is undisputed that Children are Indian children as defined by the Indian Child Welfare Act, 25 U.S.C. § 1903(4)

¶ 3 The Department of Human Services' (DHS) initial report to the court (and other reports thereafter) indicated Mother had "a history of living with abusive men" and that DHS had previously received referrals— some of which were confirmed, while others were ruled out—on the family. The initial report also stated Mother neglected the children, failed to protect them, and failed to provide proper medical care. It stated Mother was living with a female friend at the time of the report, and had not visited A.N. at all, but had regularly visited the two younger children, both of whom were (and are) in foster care.2

¶ 4 The court approved a treatment plan requiring Mother to provide a home free of physical, emotional, and sexual abuse; attend parenting skills classes and obtain certain psychological assessments and counseling; recognize and take care of the children's medical needs in a timely manner, including all immunizations; support the children financially; maintain a clean and safe home for at least six months; and provide adequate amounts of appropriate food for the children. Regular, periodic review hearings reiterated these requirements. It is undisputed that Mother was aware of these requirements and understood them.

¶ 5 In February 2000, at State's recommendation, the court found that efforts to reunite the family had failed. State filed a petition to terminate Mother's parental rights in January 2001, alleging Mother failed to correct the conditions leading to the adjudication of Children as deprived; she abandoned Children; she willfully failed to contribute to Children's support; Children had been in foster care for 15 of the most recent 22 months; and termination was in Children's best interests.

¶ 6 The matter was tried over a two-day period in July 2001. State called six witnesses, including a State DHS investigator whose investigation led to the children being removed from Mother's home in 1998; the children's primary DHS caseworker and permanency planning worker from Muskogee County; a DHS case and permanency planning worker from Sequoyah County, where Mother moved after leaving Muskogee County; a caseworker from the Cherokee Nation Indian Child Welfare Agency; and Children's current foster mother.

¶ 7 The testimony in general showed that Mother was very slow to initiate work on the requirements of her treatment plan after it was entered, and that she brought progress on the plan to a complete halt in November 1999 when she abruptly decided to move from Muskogee to Sequoyah County. Mother told caseworkers she made the move in order to get married and take care of her ill mother, but even assuming the truth of that rationale the move resulted in a dramatic decrease in her visitation with Children, as well as the loss of her job and discontinuation of the minimal individual counseling services in which she had participated up to that time.

2003 OK CIV APP 46
Further, within a few months of making the move, Mother and her new husband had separated, and Mother began living with another man in another town. Mother had had another child in May 1999, and the new child was with her as well

¶ 8 By the time of trial, according to the testimony, Mother was living in a "one and one-half to two-bedroom" house littered with debris (inside and out) and shared by Mother, Mother's new boyfriend, Mother's own...

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7 practice notes
  • In re Okl. Uniform Jury Instructions, No. SCAD-2005-19.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Oklahoma
    • March 28, 2005
    ...of parental rights and the requirements in 25 U.S.C. § 1912(f), however. In addition, in In the Matter of T.L., 2003 OK CIV APP 49, ¶ 15, 71 P.3d 43, the Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals applied the reasonable doubt standard to both the requirements in 25 U.S.C. § 1912(f) and the Oklahoma st......
  • Lane v. State (In re E.P.F.L.), No. 108,747.Released for Publication by Order of the Court of Civil Appeals of Oklahoma
    • United States
    • United States State Court of Criminal Appeals of Oklahoma. Court of Civil Appeals of Oklahoma
    • September 14, 2011
    ...counterpart, the Oklahoma ICWA, 10 O.S.2001 [ & Supp.2010] §§ 40 through [265 P.3d 769] 40.9.” In re T.L., 2003 OK CIV APP 49, ¶ 11, 71 P.3d 43, 46. ¶ 25 Father asserts the trial court should have sustained his demurrer because State failed to meet ICWA's “active efforts” requirement. F......
  • In re Adoption of R.L.A., No. 103,076.
    • United States
    • United States State Court of Criminal Appeals of Oklahoma. Court of Civil Appeals of Oklahoma
    • September 22, 2006
    ...of parental rights and the requirements in 25 U.S.C. § 1912(f), however. In addition, in In the Matter of T.L., 2003 OK CIV APP 49, ¶ 15, 71 P.3d 43, the Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals applied the reasonable doubt standard to both the requirements in 25 U.S.C. § 1912(f) and the Oklahoma st......
  • In re M.C.M., No. 104,075. Released for Publication by Order of the Court of Civil Appeals of Oklahoma, Division No. 3.
    • United States
    • United States State Court of Criminal Appeals of Oklahoma. Court of Civil Appeals of Oklahoma
    • November 15, 2007
    ...required compliance statements is not fatal, and the omission may be corrected on remand. In the Matter of T.L., 2003 OK CIV APP 49, ¶ 22, 71 P.3d 43, ¶ 27 We discern no pure error of law or abuse of discretion affecting validity of the trial court's judgment. The record contains competent,......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
7 cases
  • In re Okl. Uniform Jury Instructions, No. SCAD-2005-19.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Oklahoma
    • March 28, 2005
    ...of parental rights and the requirements in 25 U.S.C. § 1912(f), however. In addition, in In the Matter of T.L., 2003 OK CIV APP 49, ¶ 15, 71 P.3d 43, the Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals applied the reasonable doubt standard to both the requirements in 25 U.S.C. § 1912(f) and the Oklahoma st......
  • Lane v. State (In re E.P.F.L.), No. 108,747.Released for Publication by Order of the Court of Civil Appeals of Oklahoma
    • United States
    • United States State Court of Criminal Appeals of Oklahoma. Court of Civil Appeals of Oklahoma
    • September 14, 2011
    ...counterpart, the Oklahoma ICWA, 10 O.S.2001 [ & Supp.2010] §§ 40 through [265 P.3d 769] 40.9.” In re T.L., 2003 OK CIV APP 49, ¶ 11, 71 P.3d 43, 46. ¶ 25 Father asserts the trial court should have sustained his demurrer because State failed to meet ICWA's “active efforts” requirement. F......
  • In re Adoption of R.L.A., No. 103,076.
    • United States
    • United States State Court of Criminal Appeals of Oklahoma. Court of Civil Appeals of Oklahoma
    • September 22, 2006
    ...of parental rights and the requirements in 25 U.S.C. § 1912(f), however. In addition, in In the Matter of T.L., 2003 OK CIV APP 49, ¶ 15, 71 P.3d 43, the Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals applied the reasonable doubt standard to both the requirements in 25 U.S.C. § 1912(f) and the Oklahoma st......
  • In re M.C.M., No. 104,075. Released for Publication by Order of the Court of Civil Appeals of Oklahoma, Division No. 3.
    • United States
    • United States State Court of Criminal Appeals of Oklahoma. Court of Civil Appeals of Oklahoma
    • November 15, 2007
    ...required compliance statements is not fatal, and the omission may be corrected on remand. In the Matter of T.L., 2003 OK CIV APP 49, ¶ 22, 71 P.3d 43, ¶ 27 We discern no pure error of law or abuse of discretion affecting validity of the trial court's judgment. The record contains competent,......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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