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In re M.M.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

December 18, 2019

IN THE INTEREST OF M.M., Minor Child, M.U., Mother, Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Washington County, Daniel Kitchen, District Associate Judge.

         A mother appeals the termination of her parental rights.

          John G. Daufeldt of Daufeldt Law Firm, P.L.C., Conroy, for appellant mother.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Mary A. Triick, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee State.

          Kathryn J. Salazar of Schlegel & Salazar, L.L.P., Washington, attorney and guardian ad litem for minor child.

          Considered by Bower, C.J., and May and Greer, JJ.

          BOWER, Chief Judge.

         A mother appeals the termination of her parental rights to her child, M.M., who is under three years of age; was adjudicated a child in need of assistance (CINA) on May 25, 2017; and has been removed from the mother's custody since March 20, 2018.[1] She asserts she has been denied due process, there has been no showing that termination of parental rights is in the child's best interests, and she should have been granted an additional six months to seek reunification.[2] On our de novo review, In re A.S., 906 N.W.2d 467, 472 (Iowa 2018), we affirm.

         We reject the mother's claim she was denied due process.[3] See In re A.M.H., 516 N.W.2d 867, 870 (Iowa 1994) ("Generally, the fundamental requirement of due process is an opportunity to be heard.").[4] The mother had proper notice of the hearing. As will be set out below, the mother was represented by able and zealous counsel. Her counsel was able to confront and cross-examine adverse witnesses, and an impartial decision maker rendered a decision based on pertinent legal rules and the evidence presented at the hearing. See id.

         The mother has long struggled with methamphetamine abuse.[5] At the time of the January 24, 2019 termination hearing, the mother testified she was three-days sober when she entered her round of substance-abuse treatment on January 3, 2019.[6] She hoped to enter a halfway program after completing inpatient care. She also testified she needed mental-health treatment but had not participated during the pendency of these juvenile proceedings. When asked about her ability to parent while using methamphetamine, the mother testified:

Q. Do you feel like you are providing good care to your children when you are not sober? A. When I'm not sober?
Q. Correct. A. If I'm not sober, I'm not caring for them.
Q. You've had care of your children during this case when you've been using; ...

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