In the Interest of Jane Doe II (under 18 years)

The issue this case presented for the Idaho Supreme Court's review centered on the guardianship of a ten-year-old child, Jane Doe II (“Jane”). Both of Jane’s parents passed away in 2017. Thereafter, a family friend with whom Jane and her mother had been living, (“Friend”), petitioned for guardianship. Jane’s father’s twin sister (“Aunt”) also petitioned for guardianship. During proceedings the magistrate court appointed a local attorney, Auriana Clapp-Younggren, to serve as both the attorney and the guardian ad litem for Jane. After trial, the magistrate court followed Clapp-Younggren’s recommendation and awarded temporary guardianship to Friend so that Jane could finish the school year, but appointed Aunt as Jane’s permanent guardian. Friend appealed the magistrate court decision. The Supreme Court determined the magistrate court abused its discretion by failing to conduct a reasonable inquiry into whether Jane possessed sufficient maturity to direct her own attorney. Here, the magistrate court checked two boxes on the form order appointing Clapp- Younggren: one box appointed her as the attorney for Jane and the other appointed her as Jane’s guardian ad litem. Friend later filed a motion for the magistrate court to appoint an attorney for Jane under Idaho Code section 15-5-207(7). This motion was accompanied by an affidavit of a psychotherapist who testified that Jane possessed sufficient maturity to direct her own attorney. However, the judge denied the motion simply stating “I’m denying the motion. Ms. Clapp-Younggren is going to represent [Jane’s] interests in the case.” The magistrate court judge gave no explanation for why he was denying the request. The record also reflects that the magistrate court made no effort to determine Jane’s maturity level. The final decree appointing Aunt as Jane’s permanent guardian is vacated and the case is remanded so that the magistrate court can conduct a hearing to determine whether Jane possesses sufficient maturity to direct her own attorney prior to the new trial. View "In the Interest of Jane Doe II (under 18 years)" on Justia Law