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In re L.R.

Court of Appeal of Iowa

August 21, 2013

IN THE INTEREST OF L.R. and M.R., Minor Children, P.R., Father, Appellant.

Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Scott County, Mark Fowler, District Associate Judge.

A father challenges the juvenile court's denial of his request to continue a child-in-need-of-assistance hearing.

Murray W. Bell of Murray W. Bell, P.C., Davenport, for appellant.

Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, Bruce Kempkes, Assistant Attorney General, Michael Walton, County Attorney, and Julie Walton, Assistant County Attorney, for appellant.

Steven Stickle of Shinkle Law Firm, P.L.C., Davenport, for mother.

Patricia Rolfstad, Davenport, attorney and guardian ad litem for minor children.

Considered by Vogel, P.J., and Danilson and Tabor, JJ.

TABOR, J.

A father, who is accused of shaking his three-week-old son and causing life-threatening injuries, challenges the juvenile court's denial of his request to continue a child-in-need-of-assistance (CINA) adjudicatory hearing. The father asks us to reverse the adjudicatory and dispositional orders and to remand for a new hearing so he may offer expert testimony. The father also renews his foundation and authenticity objections to a hospital report and an email from his son's physician offered into evidence by the State at the adjudicatory hearing.

In light of the father's admission to shaking or rocking the infant too hard, we find his request for more time to secure a witness to address shaken baby syndrome did not constitute good cause to continue the adjudicatory hearing. The father also fails to show he was prejudiced by the admission of the challenged evidence. Accordingly, we affirm the CINA adjudication.

I. Background Facts and Proceedings

Peter and Jennifer are the parents of L.R. and M.R. The family came to the attention of the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) on November 5, 2012, when M.R. arrived at the University Hospitals and Clinics with suspicious injuries. Jennifer had left the infant alone in Peter's care that morning. When she returned home from a trip to the grocery store, she found M.R. screaming, pale, and having difficulty tracking with his eyes.

Jennifer rushed M.R. to the emergency room where doctors determined he had suffered a subdural hematoma, retinal hemorrhages to his right eye, and a fractured clavicle. M.R. also had several fractured ribs—some that could have occurred at the same time as the subdural hematoma, and some that were older and in the process of healing. Medical personnel believed M.R.'s injuries were consistent with having been shaken or sustaining trauma. A surgeon placed a shunt inside M.R.'s skull to drain fluid off his brain. Medical personnel predict M.R. will experience developmental delays as a result of his injuries.

Neither parent provided an immediate explanation of how M.R. had been injured. But on November 7, 2012, Peter admitted to Jennifer that he shook M.R. during the 5 a.m. feeding on November 5 because the baby would not stop crying. During an interview with a social worker, Peter amended his statement, claiming he rocked M.R. "harder than he ever ...


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