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In re CDR

Supreme Court of Wyoming

May 29, 2015

IN THE INTEREST OF: CDR, Minor, MR, Appellant (Respondent),
v.
THE STATE OF WYOMING, Appellee (Petitioner)

Appeal from the District Court of Park County. The Honorable Steven R. Cranfill, Judge.

For Appellant: Matthew D. Winslow of Keegan & Winslow, P.C., Cody, Wyoming.

For Appellee: Peter K. Michael, Wyoming Attorney General; Robin Sessions Cooley, Deputy Attorney General; Jill E. Kucera, Senior Assistant Attorney General; Shawnna M. Herron, Assistant Attorney General. Argument by Ms. Herron.

For Guardian ad Litem: Dan S. Wilde, Deputy State Public Defender, and Aaron S. Hockman, Chief Trial and Appellant Counsel, Wyoming Guardian ad Litem Program. Argument by Mr. Hockman.

Before BURKE, C.J., and HILL, KITE, DAVIS, and FOX, JJ.

OPINION

Page 265

DAVIS, Justice.

[¶1] The juvenile court in Park County revoked a consent decree in an educational neglect case[1] due to an alleged violation of the terms and conditions of that decree by the mother of the juvenile CDR. The boy's father MR appealed the court's order of revocation. We reverse.

ISSUES

[¶2] Father poses two questions that we rephrase and renumber as follows:

1. Did the juvenile court lose jurisdiction over the neglect case after finding that the " educational concerns regarding the minor do appear to have been addressed" ?

Page 266

2. Did the court err in finding that Mother violated the terms of the consent decree by drinking alcohol?

FACTS

[¶3] The child in this case was twelve years old and in sixth grade at the Cody Middle School when the neglect case was filed. By mid-March of the 2013 spring semester, he had accumulated twenty unexcused full-day absences, and he was failing seven out of eight classes. The school's assistant principal reported those circumstances to the Wyoming Department of Family Services (DFS), which in turn conveyed them to the county attorney. On May 24, 2013, the county attorney filed a juvenile neglect petition alleging that Father and Mother had " failed or refused to provide adequate education necessary for the child's well being." [2]

[¶4] The juvenile court appointed a guardian ad litem to represent the child that same day. Following an initial appearance on June 10, it appointed separate attorneys to represent Mother and Father and selected a multidisciplinary team (MDT). On July 11, the parties[3] filed an " Agreement in Support of Consent Decree." A consent decree adopting and incorporating that agreement was also entered that day.

[¶5] The consent decree was to be effective for one year, during which the child was to remain in his parents' custody, and the child and parents were to fulfill a number of behavioral and counseling conditions. If either Father or Mother failed to adhere to those conditions, the decree could be declared void and the neglect proceedings could be reinstated as to both of them.[4] For purposes of this appeal, the most significant of those conditions was that Father and Mother obtain an alcohol/substance abuse evaluation and " follow the regimen of treatment recommended."

[¶6] A clinician at West Park Behavioral Health evaluated Mother on November 7, 2013. The portion of the evaluation report titled " Recommendation for Treatment" contained the following two paragraphs:

It is recommended that [Mother] engage in a level III inpatient chemical dependency treatment program.
It is furthermore recommended that she abstain from alcohol and all other mood altering substances for the remainder of her life.

However, at the November 14 MDT meeting, the DFS representative described Mother's evaluation as ...


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