This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. ß 480A.08, subd. 3 (2000).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
In the Matter of the Welfare of: D.W., T.W., and D.D.
Filed February 26, 2002
Anoka County District Court
File No. J3-01-50899
Robert M.A. Johnson, Anoka County Attorney, M. Katherine Doty, Assistant County Attorney, Anoka County Government Center, 2100 Third Avenue, 7th Floor, Anoka, MN 55303 (for respondent)
Ronald Resnik, Suite 340, 6200 Shingle Creek Parkway, Brooklyn Center, MN 55430 (for appellant)
††††††††††† Considered and decided by Schumacher, Presiding Judge, Hanson, Judge, and Huspeni, Judge.[*]
Appellant mother challenges the termination of her parental rights, arguing that (a) the district court relied upon urinalysis reports that were improperly admitted in evidence without foundation or supporting expert testimony; (b) without the urinalysis reports, there is insufficient evidence to terminate her parental rights, and (c) she was denied a fair trial because the district court predetermined the result.† We affirm.
Respondent Anoka County filed a petition alleging that D.W., T.W., and D.D., the three youngest of appellant-motherís eight children, were children in need of protection or services (CHIPS).† After the district court adjudicated the children CHIPS, the county petitioned to terminate motherís parental rights.†
Mother had a long history of drug addiction.† In fact, she served an 18-month prison term with her oldest daughter after they were both convicted of drug trafficking.† Motherís drug addiction had negatively affected her parenting.† D.W. was born drug positive for cocaine.† D.W. was regularly sent to school hungry and in dirty clothes and evidenced behavioral problems.† Mother did not cooperate with school officials in addressing these issues.† T.W. was kept in dirty diapers and developed severe diaper rash.† Ultimately, mother was evicted from her trailer house and the three children were placed in foster care.†
As part of the reunification case plan, mother was required to undergo a chemical dependency evaluation and regular urinalysis testing, attend a parenting group and attend individual therapy.† Mother was uncooperative and did not succeed in these programs.† Likewise, she did not fully participate in visitation, would not inform the county of her residence and did not maintain stable housing.†
At trial, over motherís hearsay objections, the district court admitted thirteen urinalysis reports which had been generated in the regular course of motherís case plan.† The district court admitted the reports as business records of the county.†
The district court terminated motherís parental rights.† It found that termination was in the childrenís best interests because mother was palpably unfit to parent, reasonable efforts to correct the conditions leading to the childrenís placement outside the home had failed, and the children were neglected and in foster care.† Mother did not move for a new trial before she filed this appeal.
††††††††††† Procedural deficiencies in motherís appeal preclude appellate review of her arguments.
Mother argues that the district court erroneously admitted thirteen urinalysis reports.† Although mother objected to the admission of the reports at trial, she did not move for a new trial before she filed her appeal.† Thus, mother did not preserve her evidentiary objection and we need not address her evidentiary arguments.† See Sauter v. Wasemiller, 389 N.W.2d 200, 201-02 (Minn. 1986) (stating that evidentiary rulings are subject to appellate review only if there has been a motion for a new trial in which such matters have been assigned as error); In re Welfare of S.G., 390 N.W.2d 336, 340-41 (Minn. App. 1986) (applying Sauter to evidentiary rulings in child welfare cases); see also In re Welfare of D.D.G., 558 N.W.2d 481, 485 (Minn. 1997) (stating that the gravity of termination proceedings is generally not enough to abandon established appellate rules).†
Moreover, even if we were to address motherís argument, we would conclude that the admission of the reports as business records, without further foundation, was within the discretion of the district court, under Minn. R. Evid. 803(6).† See Johnson v. Washington County, 518 N.W.2d 594, 601 (Minn. 1994) (stating that evidentiary rulings concerning matters such as foundation are within the district courtís sound discretion); McKayís Family Dodge v. Hardrives, Inc., 480 N.W.2d 141, 147 (Minn. App. 1992) (stating that a decision regarding the sufficiency of foundation is within the district courtís discretion), review denied (Minn. Mar. 26, 1992).
When an appellant fails to move for a new trial, the scope of review is limited to the sufficiency of the evidence and the adequacy of the findings to support the conclusions of law.† Gruenhagen v. Larson, 310 Minn. 454, 458, 246 N.W.2d 565, 569 (1976).† Upon reviewing the district courtís findings in a termination case, ď[c]onsiderable deference is due to the district courtís decision because a district court is in a superior position to assess the credibility of witnesses.Ē† In re Welfare of L.A.F., 554 N.W.2d 393, 396 (Minn. 1996) (citation omitted).† Although we defer to the district courtís findings, we ďexercise great caution in reviewing termination proceedings.Ē† In re Welfare of A.J.C., 556 N.W.2d 616, 622 (Minn. App. 1996), review denied (Minn. Mar. 18, 1997).
Motherís only argument is that if the challenged urinalysis reports are excluded, the district courtís findings would not be supported by substantial evidence.† Because mother does not argue that the district courtís findings are flawed in any other respect, and we defer to the district courtís findings, we will not disturb the district courtís decision.† See Melina v. Chaplin, 327 N.W.2d 19, 20 (Minn. 1982) (stating that any issues not briefed on appeal are waived).† Moreover, even if the urinalysis reports were ignored, the other evidence in the record provides substantial support for the district courtís findings, and these findings support the courtís conclusions of law.
Mother argues that the district court deprived her of her right to a fair trial because comments made by the court during the trial suggest that it was biased and had predetermined the outcome of the case.† Mother did not raise this argument before the district court or move for removal of the assigned judge.† Generally, arguments not raised before the district court are not addressed on appeal.† See Davis v. Davis, 306 Minn. 536, 538, 235 N.W.2d 836, 838 (1975) (stating that an appellate court will not consider a claim that the district court was biased when the party did not seek judicial relief from the district court).† We decline to address this argument.
[*] Retired judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals, serving by appointment pursuant to Minn. Const. art. VI, § 10.