State ex rel. Bruner v. Sanders, No. 51240

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Iowa
Writing for the CourtMOORE; All Justices concur except HAYS
Citation129 N.W.2d 602,256 Iowa 999
Docket NumberNo. 51240
Decision Date16 July 1964
PartiesSTATE of Iowa ex rel. Robert S. BRUNER, County Attorney, Appellee, v. Shirley SANDERS, Joni Sanders and Lynn Sanders et al., Appellants.

Page 602

129 N.W.2d 602
256 Iowa 999
STATE of Iowa ex rel. Robert S. BRUNER, County Attorney, Appellee,
v.
Shirley SANDERS, Joni Sanders and Lynn Sanders et al., Appellants.
No. 51240.
Supreme Court of Iowa.
July 16, 1964.

[256 Iowa 1000]

Page 603

Arthur A. Neu, Carroll, for appellants.

Evan Hultman, Atty. Gen., John Allen, Asst. Atty. Gen., Robert S. Bruner, County Atty., and Edward S. White, Carroll, for appellee.

MOORE, Justice.

About February 3, 1963, the juvenile probation officer for the 16th Judicial District of Iowa, the Carroll county sheriff, a deputy, and members of the county health board visited the farm home of Mr. and Mrs. Carl Sanders.

The conditions they found are best described by this undisputed testimony of the probation officer given in juvenile court on February 16, 1963:

[256 Iowa 1001] 'I observed in the outside farm yard tall weeds growing all over and there was junk and farm machinery scattered about. The inside of the house was so cluttered with junk and filth you could hardly walk through it. From the looks of the kitchen it had not been used and you couldn't even get into it, it was piled so high with junk. We then went to what I assume was supposed to be a dining room. It has an old studio couch and it was so cluttered there was just a small path through, and I walked into a hallway that leads down to the stairway; it is very narrow path with dirty clothes and things scattered and piled up. It appeared that the cooking had been done in what was supposed to be the dining room. There is an old studio couch with old bedding on it and there is a table completely filled with bottles, glasses, dishes and things like that, all dirty. In the corner there was an electric frying pan, in which it looked like they had been doing their cooking. All the food I saw were cereals on the table and there was evidence that the children had easten their breakfast there. I did not see a refrigerator, or a deep freeze and the stove is not in use. We tried to get into the bedroom downstairs and couldn't get the door open enough so I could get in. It was cluttered with clothes on the floor, and was generally in the same condition as the other rooms I have described. I did not go upstairs. The downstairs rooms I saw were part of the one I couldn't get into, the hallway that leads to the stairway, the dining room, the kitchen and a small hallway beside the kitchen. They have a cream separator that has been operated fairly recently because there was milk running over the side of it and down on the floor. Over the years this milk has been running on the floor and has never been cleaned up.

Page 604

The house wasn't heated too well when I was there and I was informed one of the radiators had broken upstairs. There is a hot water furnace which furnishes central heating. * * *

'About nine years ago when I was sheriff, I made an investigation of that home. Mrs. Geary was only eleven years old at that time. About nine years ago the Sanders had taken a trip out of the state and left two small children at home alone. I received a call and went out there. I took the deputy sheriff [256 Iowa 1002] and a highway patrolman along and we viewed the house at the time and shot pictures. Plaintiffs' Exhibit A through G are the pictures I took of the inside and outside of the Carl Sanders' home nine years ago. The place is in worse condition now than it was when the pictures were taken. More junk and filth had been added over the years. At that time, I could get back far enough to shoot pictures. At this time, it is so cluttered you don't have room to shoot a picture. At that time they were using the kitchen although it was filthy, but this time it's so cluttered they can't use the kitchen.'

At the time of this visit the Sanders were on a trip to California. They had arranged to have their three minor children, Shirley, 14, Joni, 12, and Lynn, 5, stay at Lake View with their married daughter and her husband, Mr. and Mrs. William Geary. Mr. Geary was to get up at 5 a. m. and take the two girls to the Sanders' farm where they were to do the chores and then take the school bus to Wall Lake. After school they were to return to the farm, do the chores and then be taken back to Lake View for the night.

February 4, 1963 the Carroll county attorney filed a petition (section 232.5, Code 1962, I.C.A.) alleging Shirley, Joni and Lynn were dependent and neglected children. Section 232.2, Code 1962, I.C.A., defines dependent or neglected child as any child who, for any reason: '3. Is without proper parental care or guardianship, * * * 6. Is living in a home which is unfit for such a child; * * * 7. Is living under such other unfit surroundings as bring such child, in the opinion of the court, within the spirit of this chapter.' Section 232.39 states '[t]his chapter shall be liberally construed to the end that its purpose may be carried out.'

The court immediately granted temporary custody of the three children to the probation officer and Mrs. Geary. See section 232.14.

At the first hearing on February 16, 1963 after taking the testimony of the probation officer, the county superintendent of schools (an ex officio member of the county board of health) and consultation with the attorneys for all parties, the court ordered temporary custody of the three minor children remain [256 Iowa 1003] with the probation officer and Mrs. Geary until the end of the school year and continued the hearing until that time. The parents and children were given rights of reasonable visitation. The parents were ordered to pay $100 per month as child support.

Whether the order was made pursuant to agreement of the parties does not clearly appear. Such an agreement by Mr. and Mrs. Sanders is indicated. The order provided nothing further was to be done until the court received a report on the psychiatric examination to which each parent agreed to submit.

August 9, 1963 the hearing was resumed. It is referred to in the record as the second hearing. Many witnesses, including the parents and the three children, testified. The psychiatric examination report was made a part of the record.

The trial court made findings and conclusions after the second hearing, including: 'The only concern of this Court is the spiritual, moral, mental and physical welfare of the children. These children have gained a new self-respect for themselves in their new foster home. The children have never lost their love for their parents, but they did lose respect for their parents because

Page 605

of the filthy and intolerable conditions of the home.

'Now, the Court has set precedents before I can ever consider letting these children go back to the home, and these parents have tried to live up to them. While I am concerned with the welfare of the children, this Court would miserably fail in its duty if it would alienate the love of the parents or children for each other. This is a very delicate case. The children have indicated they would like to remain where they are. They have new friends. They have gained their self-respect. They are clean. I don't want to foreclose the parents, and the only way I can figure for the parents to gain the respect of their children is to give them an opportunity to have them in their home. That cannot be done during the school year.

'I believe that I will leave the children in their sister's home during the school year, and I will give the parents a chance to gain the respect of these children by having them in their home for the entire summer vacation, and at the end of [256 Iowa 1004] that time we will have another hearing and the children will indicate to me where they want to live and go to school the following year. * * * I do have to raise the amount of the allotment for the children, including minor medical clothing and all. I believe the sum of $175 a month starting today should be the amount. I wish, if possible, for this family to be more together on Sundays and I want them to be welcome in the home. I want them to be welcome to take...

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7 practice notes
  • Morrison, In Interest of, No. 52224
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • July 14, 1966
    ...925. It was to insure a child the care, custody and discipline that should be given by its parents. State ex rel. Bruner v. Sanders, 256 Iowa 999, 1007, 129 N.W.2d 602; State ex rel. Wiley v. Richards, 253 Iowa 679, 680, 113 N.W.2d 285, 286, and citations. We are satisfied the intent and pu......
  • Miller Children, In Interest of, No. 2--56739
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • April 16, 1975
    ...our scope of review. Alvin asserts our review is De novo. See In re Augustus, 158 N.W.2d 625, 630 (Iowa 1968); State v. Sanders, 256 Iowa 999, 1007, 129 N.W.2d 602, 607 (1964). Bernice contends we may reverse only upon a finding juvenile court abused its discretion, citing State v. Visser, ......
  • De Rocher, In Interest of, No. 54674
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • June 17, 1971
    ...100, 103, 104 (1959); State ex rel. Wiley v. Richards, 253 Iowa 679, 680, 113 N.W.2d 285, 286 (1962); State ex rel. Bruner v. Sanders, 256 Iowa 999, 1007, 129 N.W.2d 602, 607 (1964); Stubbs v. Hammond, 257 Iowa 1071, 1075-1077, 135 N.W.2d 540, 543 (1965); In re Interest of Morrison Children......
  • State v. Brown, No. 85-053
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Nebraska
    • September 20, 1985
    ...has been an abuse thereof resulting in prejudice and injury, there is no reversible error. See, also, State ex rel. Bruner v. Sanders, 256 Iowa 999, 129 N.W.2d 602 We find defendant's first assignment of error to be without merit. According to the defendant's testimony, during the initial s......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
7 cases
  • Morrison, In Interest of, No. 52224
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • July 14, 1966
    ...925. It was to insure a child the care, custody and discipline that should be given by its parents. State ex rel. Bruner v. Sanders, 256 Iowa 999, 1007, 129 N.W.2d 602; State ex rel. Wiley v. Richards, 253 Iowa 679, 680, 113 N.W.2d 285, 286, and citations. We are satisfied the intent and pu......
  • Miller Children, In Interest of, No. 2--56739
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • April 16, 1975
    ...our scope of review. Alvin asserts our review is De novo. See In re Augustus, 158 N.W.2d 625, 630 (Iowa 1968); State v. Sanders, 256 Iowa 999, 1007, 129 N.W.2d 602, 607 (1964). Bernice contends we may reverse only upon a finding juvenile court abused its discretion, citing State v. Visser, ......
  • De Rocher, In Interest of, No. 54674
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • June 17, 1971
    ...100, 103, 104 (1959); State ex rel. Wiley v. Richards, 253 Iowa 679, 680, 113 N.W.2d 285, 286 (1962); State ex rel. Bruner v. Sanders, 256 Iowa 999, 1007, 129 N.W.2d 602, 607 (1964); Stubbs v. Hammond, 257 Iowa 1071, 1075-1077, 135 N.W.2d 540, 543 (1965); In re Interest of Morrison Children......
  • State v. Brown, No. 85-053
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Nebraska
    • September 20, 1985
    ...has been an abuse thereof resulting in prejudice and injury, there is no reversible error. See, also, State ex rel. Bruner v. Sanders, 256 Iowa 999, 129 N.W.2d 602 We find defendant's first assignment of error to be without merit. According to the defendant's testimony, during the initial s......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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