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Jamie H. v. State, Department of Health & Social Services

Supreme Court of Alaska

October 10, 2014

JAMIE H., Appellant,
v.
STATE OF ALASKA, DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH & SOCIAL SERVICES, OFFICE OF CHILDREN'S SERVICES, Appellee No. 6957

Appeal from the Superior Court of the State of Alaska, Third Judicial District, Kenai, Anna Moran, Judge. Superior Court No. 3KN-11-00024CN.

Megan Webb, Assistant Public Defender, and Quinlan Steiner, Public Defender, Anchorage, for Appellant.

Janell M. Hafner, Assistant Attorney General, Anchorage, and Michael C. Geraghty, Attorney General, Juneau, for Appellee.

Before: Fabe, Chief Justice, Winfree, Stowers, Maassen, and Bolger, Justices.

OPINION

Page 1254

BOLGER, Justice.

I. INTRODUCTION

Jamie and Anna are the parents of Ian, a young teenager.[1] The Office of Children's Services (OCS) sought termination of Jamie's, but not Anna's, parental rights to Ian. In closing argument, Jamie asserted that termination of his parental rights was not in Ian's best interests because OCS had not identified any permanent placement. But the superior court did not specifically address this issue in its findings when it ordered the termination of Jamie's parental rights. Jamie appeals, arguing that the termination should be vacated because the decision does not clearly state that termination of Jamie's parental rights was for purposes of freeing Ian for adoption or other permanent placement. But we conclude that the superior court did not err when it found that termination was in Ian's best interests.

II. FACTS AND PROCEEDINGS

A. The Family

Jamie and Anna were a couple for many years. They both have mental health issues, addiction issues, and extensive criminal histories. Jamie began using marijuana when he was 12 years old, after he was seriously injured in a car accident, and by age 13, he was using methamphetamine. Anna's uncle sexually abused her, starting when she was six years old, and her mother and grandmother were aware of the abuse but did nothing to stop it. At age 16, Anna had a baby, whom she eventually gave up for adoption. Soon after that, Anna began using methamphetamine.

Jamie and Anna had two other children when they lived in Oklahoma, but those children have always lived with Jamie's mother and step-brother and were not parties to these proceedings. Before Anna became pregnant with Ian (born in 2000), and during the first six months of her pregnancy, both parents regularly used methamphetamine. They stopped using when they realized Anna was pregnant, but after Ian's birth they went back to abusing drugs and alcohol, with periods of sobriety. Although Ian lived with his parents during his early years, by the time he was four, he and his two non-party siblings were living with Ian's grandmother in Oklahoma while his parents lived elsewhere. According to Jamie, Ian was exposed to domestic violence by Jamie's brother during that time.

Jamie, Anna, and Ian moved to Alaska in 2004. Once in Alaska, Jamie and Anna had three more children; Kirsty was born in 2006, James was born in 2008, and Jon was born in 2010. The couple's relationship was chaotic and physically abusive, and apparently they were ...


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