IN THE INTEREST OF J.H., Minor Child, Z.H., Father, Appellant.
from the Iowa District Court for Cedar County, Gary P.
Strausser, District Associate Judge.
father appeals the termination of his parental rights to his
J. Neary of Neary Law Office, Muscatine, for appellant
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Meredith L. Lamberti,
Assistant Attorney General, for appellee State.
Jones of Norton, Baumann & Surls, PLLC, Lowden, guardian
ad litem for minor child.
Considered by Vogel, P.J., and Vaitheswaran and McDonald, JJ.
father appeals the termination of his parental rights to
J.H., born in May 2016. He argues the State failed to prove
by clear and convincing evidence that grounds for termination
exist under Iowa Code section 232.116(1)(h), (n), and (m)
(2018). Because the father severely abused J.H. and was
ordered to vacate the home, we find the statutory grounds
under Iowa Code section 232.116(1)(h) were proved by clear
and convincing evidence.
Background Facts and Proceedings
family first came to the attention of the Iowa Department of
Human Services (DHS) on July 24, 2016. At that time, J.H.,
who was about two and one-half months old, was transferred to
the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics for multiple
injuries associated with Shaken Baby Syndrome and severe
physical abuse, including head injury and multiple fractured
ribs at various stages of healing. The father was caring for
J.H. the day J.H. was admitted to the hospital, and he
confessed to throwing J.H. on the bed in frustration. On
September 7, while J.H. was still hospitalized, the juvenile
court issued an order for the father to remove himself from
the home. J.H. has remained in his mother's custody. In
August 2017, the father was convicted of child endangerment,
multiple acts resulting in serious injury, as well as neglect
of dependent person, in violation of Iowa Code sections
726.6A and 726.3 respectively. The court imposed a sentence
not to exceed fifty years of incarceration on the
child-endangerment conviction and not to exceed ten years on
the neglect conviction, imposing the terms to run
Standard of Review
review termination-of-parental-rights proceedings de novo.
In re M.W., 876 N.W.2d 212, 219 (Iowa 2016).
"We are not bound by the juvenile court's findings
of fact, but we do give them weight, especially in assessing
the credibility of witnesses." In re D.W., 791
N.W.2d 703, 706 (Iowa 2010). "We will uphold an order
terminating parental rights if there is clear and convincing
evidence of grounds for termination under Iowa Code section
232.116." Id.; see Iowa Code §
232.117(3) ("If the court concludes that facts
sufficient to sustain the petition have been established by
clear and convincing evidence, the court may order parental
rights terminated."). "'Clear and convincing
evidence' means there are no serious or substantial
doubts as to the correctness [of] conclusions of law drawn
from the evidence." In re C.B., 611 N.W.2d 489,
492 (Iowa 2000).
Grounds for Termination
the juvenile court terminates parental rights on more than
one statutory ground, we may affirm the juvenile court's
order on any ground we find supported by the record."
In re A.B., 815 N.W.2d 764, 774 (Iowa
2012). The father argues the district court
erroneously found the State proved by clear and convincing
evidence his parental rights should be terminated under Iowa
Code section 232.116(1)(h). Specifically, he argues section
232.116(1)(h)(3) has not been ...