This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2006).






In the Matter of the Welfare of the Children of:


N.M., Parent.


Filed February 13, 2007


Worke, Judge


Hennepin County District Court

File No. JV-05-8154


Leonardo Castro, Fourth District Public Defender, Peter W. Gorman, Assistant Public Defender, 317 Second Avenue South, Suite 200, Minneapolis, MN 55401 (for appellant N.M.)


Susan D. Wright, Legal Aid Society of Minneapolis, 2929 Fourth Avenue South, Suite 201, Minneapolis, MN 55408 (for respondent children)


Michael O. Freeman, Hennepin County Attorney, Mary M. Lynch, Assistant County Attorney, 525 Portland Avenue South, Suite 1210, Minneapolis, MN 55415 (for respondent Hennepin County Human Services and Public Health Department)


Darlo Baatz, Guardian ad Litem Office, C-35 Juvenile Justice Center, 626 South Sixth Street, Minneapolis, MN 55415 (guardian ad litem)


            Considered and decided by Lansing, Presiding Judge; Peterson, Judge; and Worke, Judge.

U N P U B L I S H E D   O P I N I O N

WORKE, Judge

            On appeal from a Children in Need of Protection or Services (CHIPS) determination, appellant argues that (1) neither the findings nor the record supports the adjudication that the children are in need of protection or services because the children’s environment is dangerous to the children; (2) neither the findings nor the record supports the district court’s dispositional orders; and (3) the district court abused its discretion by adopting the county’s proposed findings verbatim.  We affirm. 


Sufficiency of Evidence

When no motion for a new trial has occurred, “the only questions for review [on appeal] are whether the evidence sustains the findings of fact and whether such findings sustain the conclusions of law and the judgment.”  In re Welfare of M.J.L., 582 N.W.2d 585, 588 (Minn. App. 1998).  CHIPS findings are not reversed unless clearly erroneous or unsupported by substantial evidence.  In re Welfare of D.N., 523 N.W.2d 11, 13 (Minn. App. 1994), review denied (Minn. Nov. 29, 1994).  A close review inquires into the sufficiency of the evidence to determine whether the evidence is clear and convincing.  In re Welfare of J.M., 574 N.W.2d 717, 724 (Minn. 1998)“Considerable deference is due to the district court’s decision because a district court is in a superior position to assess the credibility of witnesses.”  In re Welfare of L.A.F., 554 N.W.2d 393, 396 (Minn. 1996).

            Appellant N.M. argues that the evidence does not support a finding under Minn. Stat. § 260C.007, subd. 6(9) (2006), that provides that a child is in need of protection or services if the child “is one whose behavior, condition, or environment is such as to be injurious or dangerous to the child or others.  An injurious or dangerous environment may include, but is not limited to, the exposure of a child to criminal activity in the child’s home[.]”  Here, several of appellant’s children were present in the home on the night she was involved in a domestic incident with a former boyfriend.  After appellant failed to cooperate with social services’ investigation of the incident, CHIPS petitions were filed.  The district court found that the petitions had been proved as to Minn. Stat. § 260C.007, subd. 6(9), and imposed dispositional orders. 

            While it is unclear whether the children were awake or witnessed the incident, the district court found that appellant’s testimony that the children slept through the incident was not credible.  This court shows great deference to a fact-finder’s determination of witness credibility.  See L.A.F., 554 N.W.2d at 396.  Appellant’s refusal to cooperate with the social workers following the incident further supports the district court’s adjudication and disposition.  Appellant also failed to comply with almost every condition in the protective-services order; specifically, failing to appear at a hearing on the order for protection against her former boyfriend and a juvenile-court hearing scheduled for the same day; failing to schedule an appointment for domestic-abuse counseling; failing to maintain regular contact with the social workers; failing to let the social workers know where she and the children were residing after moving because her former boyfriend was continuing to harass her; failing to provide a stable living environment for the children because she was not taking her psychotropic medications for bipolar disorder; and disappearing with the children from their grandmother’s home for several days at a time.  The children were also missing a significant amount of school.  There is sufficient evidence to support a finding under Minn. Stat. § 260C.007, subd. 6(9).  Based on the evidence, the district court did not clearly err in the findings of fact and conclusions of law regarding the adjudication and disposition.

Disposition Order

            Appellant argues that the district court erred in adopting a nearly verbatim version of the county attorney’s proposed disposition order.  While the supreme court has stated its preference that district courts adopt their own findings, complete adoption of proposed findings does not require reversal.  In re Children of T.A.A., 702 N.W.2d 703, 707 n.2 (Minn. 2005).  “The district court’s findings should reflect the court’s independent assessment of the evidence and this is best accomplished by the district court exercising its own skill and judgment in drafting its findings.”  Id.  Here, the district court made extensive findings on the record that provided a context for the proposed findings and orders.  Based on those verbal findings and a subsequent order correcting a mistake in the original disposition order, the district court conducted a careful and thorough analysis of appellant’s arguments.