Kansas

ABUSE

EVIDENCE

State v. Rodriguez, 289 P.3d 85 (Kan. 2012). Trial court acted within its discretion in admitting autopsy photographs of five-month-old child in felony murder trial. The probative value of the autopsy photographs was not substantially outweighed by the risk of undue prejudice, because they helped the forensic pathologist explain how he determined the injuries resulted from shaking especially since body showed no external bruising.

STALKING

C.M. ex rel. A.M. v. McKee, 398 P.3d 228 (Kan. Ct. App.). Mother, on behalf of child, was granted protection from stalking order against neighbor, and he appealed. When plaintiff seeking protection order is child, court must view circumstances from viewpoint of reasonable child of plaintiff’s age. Eleven-year-old victim testified that while she was traveling with father, neighbor drove his vehicle towards their vehicle, and neighbor jumped out from behind bush as she walked home from school and scared her.

 

TESTIMONY

State v. Rochelle, 298 P.3d 293 (Kan. 2013). District court did not err in allowing six-year-old child to have school counselor sit next to her during testimony in criminal trial on sexual abuse. Given no state statute on the subject, the decision to allow a person to sit at the stand as a comfort to a child is within the court’s discretion. Court gave proper instructions to ensure the child’s testimony was not inappropriately influenced by counselor during exam.

ADOPTION

REASONABLE EFFORTS

In re N.A.C., 316 P.3d 771 (Kan. Ct. App. 2013). Trial court erred in finding agency had not made reasonable efforts to secure a relative placement for adoption and granting custody to foster parents after finding agency delayed in initiating Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children home study request. Request was delayed not by agency’s actions, but by delay in court order, as evidenced by fact agency sent request the day after receiving the needed court order showing authority to place child.

DELINQUENCY

SEX OFFENDER REGISTRIES

In re K.B., 285 P.3d 389 (Kan. Ct. App. 2012).
District court erred in requiring youth to register as a sex offender after finding youth’s battery charges were sexually motivated. Record lacked evidence other than hearsay statements that charges involved sexual intent. The court did not err in requiring the youth to complete sex offender treatment, however, because the court has broad discretion to craft an appropriate disposition.

DEPENDENCY

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

In re A.H., 334 P.3d 339 (Kan. Ct. App. 2014). Court affirmed decision that father’s five-month-old daughter was a child in need of care because she lived in same house as older brother, who court had found to be child in need of care for witnessing domestic abuse. Older brother had contemporaneously observed domestic violence between father and mother and suffered emotional harm by being placed in position of physical danger.

REMOVAL

In re A.E.S., 298 P.3d 386 (Kan. Ct. App. 2013). Father’s claim that child welfare statute was unconstitutional for vagueness failed on appeal where statute indicated that a child could be removed on probable cause that their “health or welfare…may be endangered without further care.” Prior case law delineating that endangerment statute applied to protect a child from injury that was reasonably certain and provisions allowing for reasonable efforts and additional hearings help ensure the statute will be applied appropriately. 

TERMINATION OF PARENTAL RIGHTS

ADOPTION

In re I.H.H-L., 251 P.3d 651 (Kan. Ct. App. 2011). Maternal aunt and uncle lacked statutory authority to seek adoption of child and termination of father’s parental rights after mother’s death; aunt and uncle had physical, not legal, custody of child when they filed the adoption petition and they failed to obtain father’s consent to adoption as required by statute.

APPEALS

In re N.A.C., 329 P.3d 458 (Kan. 2014). Appellate court erroneously permitted foster parents’ appeal of a post-termination order, as this order was mistakenly thought to be a “temporary custody order” or “order of adjudication.” The agency was accused of failing to make reasonable efforts in finding an adoptive placement, removing the child from agency custody, and placing her directly with foster parents. The last appealable order was the termination of parental rights. At best, these orders should be considered permanency orders in a post-termination permanency hearing that are not appealable.

FAILURE TO IMPROVE

In re R.S., 336 P.3d 903 (Kan. Ct. App. 2014). Evidence supported finding that mother was unfit and that condition or conduct making her unfit was unlikely to change in foreseeable future. Mother had taken limited steps toward accomplishing tasks aimed at reuniting her with children. Court did not abuse its discretion by terminating her rights rather than taking some other action, such as giving her additional time to prepare for reunification.

GROUNDS

In re C.A.T., 273 P.3d 813 (Kan. Ct. App. 2012). District court properly terminated father’s parental rights on ground that child was conceived by rape. Though many facts were contested, witness testimony of the mother and a friend supported finding including that mother was so intoxicated that she did not remember events the night of conception and her friend testified that she heard the mother telling the father to stop in the bathroom.

In re H.J.P., 275 P.3d 73  (Kan. Ct. App. 2012). Trial court erred in terminating father’s parental rights where he had complied with all plan requirements. Despite the court’s concerns that the father was not capable of parenting long term, the majority of the witnesses, including the foster parent and agency staff that had worked closely with the father, advised against termination.

WITNESS TESTIMONY

In re K.E., 272 P.3d 28 (Kan. 2012). Trial court properly denied father’s request to participate in termination hearing by telephone where he had received adequate advanced notice and failed to appear. Though not citing the statute in its analysis, the court implicitly found no good cause to deviate from the rule that testimony be in open court. The court’s discussion with the father’s attorney revealed the father knew of the hearing but told his counsel he was unable to attend.