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In re K.S.P.

Court of Appeal of Iowa

August 21, 2013

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

Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Woodbury County, Brian L. Michaelson, Associate Juvenile Judge.

The father appeals the termination of parental rights.

Matthew R. Metzgar of Rhinehart Law, P.C., Sioux City, for appellant.

Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, Janet Hoffman, Assistant Attorney General, Patrick Jennings, County Attorney, and Diane Murphy, Assistant County Attorney, for appellee.

Joseph Kertels of Juvenile Law Center, Sioux City, attorney and guardian ad litem for minor children.

Chad Thompson, Kingsley, for mother.

Considered by Potterfield, P.J., and Mullins and Bower, JJ.

BOWER, J.

T.M. appeals the district court ruling terminating his parental rights to three children. T.M. argues the petition for termination was barred by the doctrine of res judicata and lacked a factual basis. We find res judicata is not applicable and a sufficient factual basis exists for terminating T.M.'s parental rights. Accordingly, we affirm.

I. Background Facts and Proceedings

This appeal concerns the second of two petitions for termination of parental rights filed regarding T.M., the putative father of K.R.M., K.L.M., and K.S.P.[1] The initial petition, filed October 30, 2009, sought to terminate the rights of both parents. The court dismissed the petition and found the best interests of the children did not support terminating the mother's rights and there were no statutory grounds for terminating the rights of T.M. Since the dismissal of the 2009 petition, the mother's problems with drug addiction have improved and she is not a party to the present action.

T.M. has had a troubled history since dismissal of the first petition. T.M. was incarcerated at the time of the dismissal and was released from jail on March 26, 2010. He was taken into custody following a parole violation on April 30, 2010, causing him to miss permanency modification hearings in August 2010, and January 2011. T.M. was arrested again on December 23, 2011, in South Dakota on drug charges. Following his arrest, he was given suggestions to deal with his substance abuse. He refused these suggestions and stated his intention to continue using drugs. T.M. missed review hearings on March 7 and August 2, 2012, with no reason given for his absence. Prior to the August 2012 hearing, T.M. had failed to stay in contact with department of human services personnel, had failed to submit to mandatory drug testing, and had been arrested once again on drug and drunk driving charges.

T.M. failed to appear at the next review hearing on November 7, 2012. It was at this time the district court found the best interests of the children might be served by terminating T.M.'s parental rights.[2] The petition was filed on December 11, 2012. A termination hearing was held on February 6, 2013. T.M., once again, failed to appear for the hearing. In his place, his mother notified the court T.M. was sick. T.M. had been arrested again by the time the court reconvened the termination hearing on February 26, 2013.

The district court terminated T.M.'s parental rights on May 22, 2013. The court relied upon T.M.'s frequent incarceration, ...


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