STATE IN THE INTEREST OF K. D. M., K. J. M. & K. K. B.
FROM THE THIRTY-FIFTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT PARISH OF
GRANT, NO. 3128 HONORABLE WARREN DANIEL WILLETT, DISTRICT
L. Kennedy Grant Parish District Defender COUNSEL FOR
APPELLANT: D. M. (father of K.D.M & K.J.M)
Lain Louisiana Dept. of Children and Family Services Bureau
of General Counsel COUNSEL FOR APPELLEE: State of Louisiana,
Dept. of Children and Family Services
Gardiner Wilson Attorney at Law COUNSEL FOR OTHER APPELLEE:
James Patrick Lemoine D.A., 35th JDC COUNSEL FOR OTHER
APPELLEE: State of Louisiana
Jacqueline Chevette Williams Assistant District Attorney
COUNSEL FOR OTHER APPELLEES: K. D. M., K. J. M. K. K. B.
P. Beck, III Attorney At Law COUNSEL FOR OTHER APPELLEE: D.
B. (father of K.K.B.)
Jerrica Wilson Case Worker COUNSEL FOR OTHER APPELLEE: Grant
Dept of Children and Family Svcs
composed of Sylvia R. Cooks, Shannon J. Gremillion, and D.
Kent Savoie, Judges.
KENT SAVOIE JUDGE
is the biological father of twin children, K.D.M. and K.J.M.
appeals the trial court's order terminating his parental
rights. For the following reasons, we affirm.
AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
August 18, 2017, the State, through the Department of
Children and Family Services (the State), sought and obtained
an instanter order from the trial court placing K.D.M. and
K.J.M., and also K.K.B, who is another child with a different
father, in the temporary custody of the State. The children
were placed in foster care. K.D.M. and K.J.M. were eight
years old at the time, and K.K.B. was one. In support of the
instanter order, the State alleged that the mother of the
three children provided inadequate shelter and "sells
her food stamps, smokes synthetic marijuana on a daily basis
in the presence of the minor children, and the trailer in
which they lived was in bad condition, there are no working
utilities in the home, and the children looked
malnourished." In addition, the State alleged that, at
the time, school had been in session for three weeks, yet the
children had not attended during that time. The State also
alleged that it eventually made contact with the
children's mother, who provided false information
concerning the whereabouts of the children. The State further
alleged that the family had previously been offered services
on two separate occasions; however, the cases were closed due
to the mother's noncompliance.
August 29, 2017, the State filed a Petition seeking to
declare K.D.M., K.J.M., and K.K.B. as children in need of
care. Therein it alleged that D.M. was the father of K.D.M.
and K.J.M., and that K.B. was the father of K.K.B. Given that
this appeal involves only D.M. with respect to K.D.M. and
K.J.M., we will not further discuss actions taken in the
trial court with respect to K.B. and/or K.K.B.
continued custody hearing was held August 21, 2017. The
children's mother and her attorney were present in court.
Counsel for D.M. also made an appearance on D.M.'s behalf
and noted that D.M. was incarcerated. Following the hearing,
the trial court rendered an order the same day finding that
it was in the children's best interest for them to remain
in the custody of the State. The order further advised the
parents of their rights and responsibilities, including their
responsibility to keep the State apprised of their current
address, and to cooperate in preparing a case plan and
meeting the needs of their children.
matter was heard again on September 6, 2017. Counsel for the
mother, and counsel for D.M., were present, as well as a
Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) on behalf of the
children. An adjudication hearing was then held on October
11, 2017. D.M., through counsel, was present, as well as the
mother and her counsel. D.M.'s counsel again indicated
that D.M. was incarcerated. During the October 11, 2017
hearing, a Case Plan dated September 13, 2017, was offered
and accepted by the trial court.
September 2017 Case Plan reflected that D.M. participated by
phone. It stated that the primary goal with respect to K.D.M.
and K.J.M. was reunification, with a secondary goal of
adoption. The plan stated that D.M. "will support his
children in foster care and agree to pay $10.00 per month per
child . . . when not working and $25.00 per month per child
if working." It further provided that visitation would
occur on the second and fourth Thursdays, and included
specific action steps to be taken by D.M., including
maintaining safe housing, participating in a substance abuse
assessment and screenings, and attending visitation. The plan
further stated that D.M. "will maintain contact with the
Agency, report all changes in situation such as: employment,
address change, telephone number, etc. He will attend all
court hearings, FTC's and any other meetings or functions
concerning the children."
was incarcerated at the time of the September 2017 case plan,
and his case worker, Ms. Jerrica Wilson, provided a copy of
the plan to him when she visited with him in jail in October
the October 11, 2017 hearing, the trial court rendered a
Judgment finding that it was in K.D.M.'s and K.J.M.'s
best interests to remain in the State's custody. The
Judgment also advised the parents of their rights and
responsibilities, adjudicated the children in need of care,
and set a case plan review hearing for February 7, 2018.
January 31, 2018, the State filed with the court a report
dated January 22, 2018. Therein, the State noted that
"[D.M.'s] whereabouts are unknown. [D.M.] was
released from jail on November 1, 2017. [D.M.] has contacted
this worker one time since being out of jail. He has not had
any more contact with the agency." The report further
noted that D.M.'s employment status was unknown and that
he had not completed the case plan's required substance
abuse assessment, parenting education, or financial
January 31, 2018, the State filed a Case Plan dated January
23, 2018. The plan reflected that all three children had been
placed with the same foster family and K.D.M. and K.J.M. had
changed schools due to this placement. It also reflected that
D.M. had not fulfilled any of the required obligations and
further stated that D.M.:
was incarcerated . . . until November 1, 2017. The worker
visited with him once while he was in jail. Worker had
contact with him one time in November when he was released
and notified of a family visit. He did not show up and has
not been in contact with the Agency since November 2017.
plan review hearing was held February 7, 2018. Counsel for
D.M. made an appearance on his behalf. Thereafter, the trial
court entered a Judgment ordering the children to remain in
the State's custody and approving the January 23, 2018
20, 2018, the State submitted a report dated July 25, 2018,
to the trial court, which stated as follows with respect to
[D.M.]'s whereabouts are unknown. [D.M.] was released
from jail on November 1, 2017. [D.M.] has contacted this
worker one time in November 2017. He has not had any more
contact with the Agency. Clear searches have been completed
but did not turn up any information on his whereabouts. The
Grant Parish Child Support office contacted this worker in
June 2018. They located [D.M.] in Richland Correctional
Center for a misdemeanor and resisting an officer. The office
had pursued child support for [D.M.] Once located and brought
forth in front of your Honor, he denied being the father of
[K.D.M.] and [K.J.M.] and requested a DNA test. The test was
completed and results showed that he is the father of the
twins. [D.M.] was released from jail on June 29, 2018.
July 25, 2018 report further reflected that D.M.'s
employment status was unknown, he had not provided any
financial support for the children, and he had not completed
the requisite substance abuse assessment or parenting
education. It also stated that D.M. "has never visited
the children since they have been in foster care."
July 30, 2018, the State submitted a Case Plan dated July 2,
2018, to the trial court. This plan similarly noted that D.M.
had not provided financial support for the children, his
whereabouts were ...