Articles Posted in Maine Supreme Judicial Court

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Following entry of a judgment adjudicating Jacob L. of the juvenile crime of aggravated assault, the juvenile court entered an order denying Jacob’s motion for return of property. Jacob appealed, arguing that the juvenile court applied an incorrect legal standard when it determined that the State was entitled to retain possession of cash that had been seized from him and that there was insufficient evidence to support the court’s findings. The Supreme Judicial Court dismissed this appeal as interlocutory and remanded to the trial court for further proceedings because the juvenile court had not yet issued an order determining who owned or was otherwise entitled to possession of the seized property. View "State v. Jacob L." on Justia Law

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A daughter was born to Carey and Knight in 2010. The child was hospitalized with a serious illness when she was about a month old. Knight ended his relationship with Carey and removed himself from his daughter’s life. Carey moved into Kilborn’s home when the child was two months old; they married weeks later, including an informal “adoption” ceremony. They held the child out as Kilborn’s “adopted” daughter. Kilbourn actively participated in the child’s life, including providing day-to-day care. The couple discussed formal adoption, but he understood that Knight was unwilling or unable to consent. Kilborn and Carey had two children together. The children were raised as full siblings.Carey’s daughter refers to Kilborn as “daddy.” Kilborn's parents have acted as grandparents to all three children. In 2014, Kilborn sought a divorce and requested that he be declared the de facto father of Carey’s daughter. Carey opposed Kilborn’s request and denied him access to the child, though he had visitation with his biological children. She attempted to reintroduce Knight into the child’s life. The court found, by clear and convincing evidence, that the child’s life would be substantially and negatively affected by Kilborn’s absence and that Kilborn had satisfied his burden of showing that he is the child’s de facto parent. The Maine Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, noting that the Maine Parentage Act, 19-A M.R.S. 1831-1938, will soon take effect and mirrors precedent. View "Kilborn v. Carey" on Justia Law

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The father of Woodard’s child died seven months after the child’s birth. There is no evidence that Woodard is an unfit parent. Dorr, the mother of the deceased father, sought court-ordered visitation with Woodard’s child, alleging a sufficient existing relationship between herself and the child, or, in the alternative, that she had made a sufficient effort to establish a relationship, 19-A M.R.S. 1803(1)(B), (C). Before the child’s birth, Dorr attended a baby shower. Dorr was in the hospital on the evening that the child was born—September 3, 2012. Dorr had additional, unspecified contact with the child until Dorr’s son died and Woodard ceased contact with Dorr. Mediation was unsuccessful. Woodard moved to dismiss the petition, arguing that the Act infringes on her fundamental right to govern the care, custody, and control of her child, and is unconstitutional both on its face and as applied. The court dismissed Dorr’s petition, finding that the affidavit did not establish a sufficient existing relationship with the child or a sufficient effort to establish such a relationship, and did not make an initial showing of “urgent reasons” that would justify infringement on the mother’s rights. The Maine Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, finding that Dorr lacked standing, given the lack of “urgent reasons.” View "Dorr v. Woodard" on Justia Law

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In 2014, Hailey’s mother petitioned the Cumberland County Probate Court for Hailey’s paternal grandparents to be appointed as guardians so that Hailey could attend school in Freeport. She withdrew the petition weeks later, stating that the arrangement was “for an educational purpose that [was] no longer needed.” .Weeks later, the grandparents petitioned to have themselves appointed as guardians of the child, stating that the child needed a safe and supportive environment and had threatened to run away from her mother’s house. The child began to live with her grandparents in January 2015. The child’s father consented to the guardianship, but her mother did not. The court heard testimony from the child, then 15 years old; her parents; and a clinician who had provided treatment services to the child and her mother, and entered a judgment finding, by clear and convincing evidence, that the mother had created a living situation that was at least temporarily intolerable for the child and that a guardianship with the grandparents was in the child’s best interest; mother had shown an inability to meet the child’s needs that threatened the child. The Maine Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, rejecting challenges to the court’s findings and to the award of a full, rather than limited, guardianship, with no arrangement for transition back to mother’s home. View "Guardianship of Hailey M." on Justia Law