This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2000).
IN COURT OF APPEALS
Hennepin County District Court
File No. J00065703
Leonardo Castro, Fourth District Public Defender, Suite 200, 317 Second Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55401; and
David P. Murrin, Assistant Public Defender, Suite 200, 317 Second Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55401 (for appellant Mother, S.C.)
Renée Bergeron, Assistant Public Defender, Suite 200, 317 Second Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55401 (for appellant Father, R.C.)
Jonathan G. Steinberg, Chrastil and Steinberg, PLLP, 1155 Grain Exchange – East Building, 412 South Fourth Street, Box 15085, Minneapolis, MN 55415 (for guardian ad litem Linda Carvel)
Mike Hatch, Attorney General, Suite 500, 525 Park Street, St. Paul, MN 55103; and
Amy Klobuchar, Hennepin County Attorney, Donna J. Wolfson, Assistant County Attorney, C-2000 Government Center, 300 South Sixth Street, Minneapolis, MN 55487 (for respondent Hennepin County DCFS)
Considered and decided by Halbrooks, Presiding Judge, Shumaker, Judge, and Stoneburner, Judge.
In this consolidated appeal from termination of their parental rights, mother and father allege that the district court erroneously determined that the county did not have an obligation to provide rehabilitation services to them. Father separately argues that his due process rights were violated because he did not receive notice of a Wisconsin termination-of-parental-rights case that constituted the basis for denial of services in the instant case. We affirm.
Mother’s parental rights had been involuntarily terminated with regard to two other children prior to Hennepin County’s petition to terminate her rights to C.C., who was born on August 13, 2001. In 1996, mother’s rights to J.K. were terminated by order of the district court in Wright County. On May 17, 2000, her rights to T.C. were terminated by order of the St. Croix County Circuit Court in Wisconsin. Father’s rights to T.C. were terminated by the same Wisconsin order.
Hennepin County immediately took custody of C.C. after he was born and filed a petition to terminate mother and father’s parental rights to C.C. on the basis that they are palpably unfit pursuant to Minn. Stat. § 260C.301, subd. 1(b)(2), (4) (2000).
At the initial hearing on the petition, the county moved the court for a determination that reasonable efforts for mother and father’s rehabilitation and reunification with the child were not required pursuant to Minn. Stat. § 260.012(a)(1)(ii), (b)(3) (2000). The statute provides in relevant part:
Reasonable efforts for rehabilitation and reunification are not required upon a determination by the court that:
(1) a termination of parental rights petition has been filed stating a prima facie case that: * * *
(ii) the parental rights of the parent to another child have been terminated involuntarily; * * *
* * * *
(3) No reasonable efforts for reunification are required when the court makes a determination under paragraph (a) unless, after a hearing * * * the court finds there is not clear and convincing evidence of the facts upon which the court based its prima facie determination.
Minn. Stat. § 260.012(a)(1), (b)(3) (2000).
The district court relieved the county of the obligation to provide rehabilitation and reunification services to mother and father. Mother requested an additional hearing on this issue but later agreed to submit the matter to the court on the record. The district court then issued a written order relieving the county of the obligation to provide rehabilitation and reunification services. On March 21, 2001, the district court ordered termination of mother and father’s rights to C.C. based on a finding that they are “palpably unfit” to be parties to the parent-and-child relationship pursuant to Minn. Stat. § 260C.301, subd. 1(b)(4) (2000).
Neither parent challenges the finding that both are palpably unfit, but both argue that they were entitled to rehabilitative services even if they were not entitled to
reunification services and that the case must be remanded for a determination of whether, with appropriate provision of “basic human services,” they can assume duties of parenthood within the foreseeable future. Mother and father have no authority for this argument, and the argument is clearly contrary to the statute. The statute unambiguously relieves the county of the need to make both rehabilitative and reunification efforts under the circumstances of this case. The parents’ argument that public policy entitles them to rehabilitation services is without merit.
Father separately argues that the district court violated his due process rights by denying him rehabilitative services pursuant to Minn. Stat. § 260.012, subd. (a)(1) because father claims that he did not receive notice of the Wisconsin termination proceeding. Father’s argument is without merit.
The Wisconsin order terminating father’s parental rights includes a finding that all parties entitled to notice had been given notice. Father never alleged that he challenged this order on jurisdictional grounds. Termination in that case was based on abandonment. The child involved was born to mother and father on February 7, 1996, and was first taken into temporary physical custody in April 1996 and placed in foster care in June 1996. The record demonstrates that father was offered and, at first, participated in, services in Wisconsin. Father admits that he appeared in court in Wisconsin 26 times in connection with the child-protection matter. According to the Wisconsin petition for termination of parental rights, father had not been in contact with his son since December 1998 and had not contacted the Department of Health & Human Services since November 1999. Although it appears that service of the petition to terminate parental rights may have been by mail, father has not produced any evidence that he was not properly served pursuant to Wisconsin law.
The record clearly and convincingly supports the district’s court’s determination that father’s parental rights were involuntarily terminated by the Wisconsin court in May 2000. His claim that he did not receive actual notice of the termination hearing is insufficient to create any reasonable doubt of the termination or the validity of the termination order. The district court’s reliance on the Wisconsin termination order does not violate father’s right to due process of law.
At oral argument on appeal, father raised, for the first time, the issue of whether his due process rights were violated in the Minnesota proceeding because of the delay in the appointment of a public defender to represent him. We decline to address this argument, but note that counsel was appointed for father as soon as he demonstrated his eligibility for appointed counsel. Haskins v. Choice Auto Rental, Inc., 558 N.W.2d 507, 512 (Minn. App. 1997) (acknowledging that this court does not have to consider arguments which are raised for the first time on appeal): see also In re Welfare of D.D.G., 558 N.W.2d 481, 485 (Minn. 1997) (stating gravity of termination proceeding is insufficient reason to abandon established rules for preserving issues for appeal); In re Welfare of C.L.L., 310 N.W.2d. 555, 557 (Minn. 1981) (refusing, in termination proceeding, to address constitutional issues raised for first time on appeal).
At trial, Hennepin County produced clear and convincing evidence that mother and father are palpably unfit to parent C.C. and that determination is not appealed.