Recent Iowa COA Opinions on ICWA Expert Testimony

Here are the unpublished opinions in In re D.S. (here and here). Here is a description of these cases from a dedicated reader:

This decision deals with whether Expert Witness Testimony needs to “support” the overall decision of the Trial Court’s decision to terminate parental rights.  In the first decision, the Court of Appeals misunderstood the parents’ arguments on the expert witness testimony issue.  The Court thought they were claiming that no QEW testimony was provided.  On the contrary, the parents felt that there was QEW and that QEW testimony needed to support the Trial Court’s decision.  The parents stated the QEW testimony did not support the Trial Court’s decision, and thus asked for the Court of Appeals to reconsider its decision.  The second decision essentially states that there is a split on whether QEW testimony just needs to be provided or if the QEW testimony actually needs to support the Trial Court’s decision.  This appellate panel decided that QEW testimony does not need to support the overall decision.

An excerpt from the first:

A father and mother appeal from the order terminating their parental rights to their one-year-old son. They contend the juvenile court erred in terminating parental rights without the testimony of a qualified expert witness and that the State failed to prove active efforts were made for reunification. The father also contends the juvenile court erred in failing to address placement until after the termination hearing. The mother also contends termination is not in the child’s best interests. Considering the parents’ lack of involvement with the child and their periods of incarceration during these proceedings, we find termination of parental rights in the best interests of the child. The parents are also unable to safely parent the child and provide for his extensive medical needs. The child’s permanency cannot be further delayed. The Iowa Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) requirements under Iowa Code chapter 232B are satisfied in this case.
For these reasons, we affirm the decision of the juvenile court.

And from the second:

A father and mother appeal from the order terminating their parental rights to their one-year-old son. They contend the juvenile court erred in terminating parental rights without the testimony of a qualified expert witness and that the State failed to prove active efforts were made for reunification. The father also contends the juvenile court erred in failing to address placement until after the termination hearing. The mother also contends termination is not in the child’s best interests. Considering the parents’ lack of involvement with the child and their periods of incarceration during these proceedings, we find termination of parental rights in the best interests of the child. The parents are also unable to safely parent the child and provide for his extensive medical needs. The child’s permanency cannot be further delayed. The Iowa Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) requirements under Iowa Code chapter 232B are satisfied in this case. For these reasons, we affirm the decision of the juvenile court.

This entry was posted in Author: Matthew L.M. Fletcher, ICWA, Research and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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