In the Interest of: B.H.
Challenge to termination of parental rights
Listen to the oral argument:
The mother was represented during arguments by Michael E. Crowley of Warden Grier LLP in Kansas City, and the juvenile officer was represented by Lori L. Stipp of the Jackson County juvenile office in Kansas City. Judge William W. Francis, a judge of the Missouri Court of Appeals, Southern District, sat in this case by special designation to fill the vacancy on the Court.
In 2009, a child was removed from his mother’s home and placed in the care of the state’s children’s division. The division filed a petition alleging that the child was without proper support or care and that the mother had been arrested and incarcerated for soliciting prostitution. Further, it alleged, the mother was a registered sex offender and admitted to prostituting herself regularly while at home with the child. In January 2011, the trial court terminated the mother’s parental rights. She appeals.
The mother argues the trial court erred in terminating her parental rights. She contends the trial court violated the Due Process Clause of the United States Constitution by terminating her rights based on a preponderance of the evidence and not based on the higher burden of proof requiring clear and convincing evidence. She asserts the trial court erred in failing to identity the burden of proof it applied to other factual findings. The mother further argues the trial court erred in considering her past behavior because past behavior can support termination only if the trial court explicitly considers whether that past behavior demonstrates a risk of future harm.
The division responds that the trial court did not err in terminating the mother’s parental rights. It argues the trial court based the termination on clear, cogent and convincing evidence, not on a preponderance of the evidence. It contends that while the trial court erred in failing to identity the burden of proof applied to other factual findings, that error was not fatal to the proceedings. It asserts the trial court properly considered the mother’s past conduct in making its decisions as to whether risks of future harm existed.
V.W. v. R.W.
St. Louis County
This case was removed from the oral argument docket Sept. 2 because the parties settled the case.
In re: Tarak A. Devkota
Listen to the oral argument:
The chief disciplinary counsel was represented during arguments by Charles W. Gotschall of The Law Offices of Charles W. Gotschall in Kansas City, and Devkota was represented by Robert G. Russell of Kempton & Russell in Sedalia. Judge William W. Francis, a judge of the Missouri Court of Appeals, Southern District, sat in this case by special designation to fill the vacancy on the Court.
In January 2010, the chief disciplinary counsel received notice that Kansas City attorney Tarak A. Devkota’s client trust account was overdrawn. An investigation revealed Devkota had commingled his own funds with client funds, used the funds for his own personal finances and failed to keep sufficient funds in the account. In November 2010, a disciplinary hearing panel recommended that Devkota’s license be suspended, that the suspension be stayed and that he be placed on probation. This Court rejected the recommendation. The chief disciplinary counsel asks this Court to discipline Devkota’s law license.
The chief disciplinary counsel argues this Court should suspend Devkota’s law license, stay the suspension and place Devkota on probation for three years. He contends probation is reasonable under Rule 5.225. The chief disciplinary counsel asserts Devkota violated Rules 4-1.15, 4-8.1 and 4-8.4 by commingling client and personal funds, by making false statements to an investigator with the chief disciplinary counsel’s office, and by engaging in dishonest prejudicial conduct.
Devkota agrees with the chief disciplinary counsel’s recommendation as to discipline.
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