Termination of Parental Rights

 

Issues: Termination under § 29(7) of the Adoption Code (MCL 710.29(7)); Termination under the Juvenile Code (MCL 712A.1 et seq.); Whether the respondent-mother's "release" of her parental rights was valid; MCR 3.801(B); MCL 710.29(6) & (7); Revocation of a release; MCL 710.29(10); MCL 710.64(1); MCR 3.806(A); Whether the respondent was entitled to a rehearing for "good cause"; MCR 3.806(B); In re Utrera; Whether a change of heart alone is grounds to set aside a release that is otherwise knowingly and voluntarily made after a proper advice of rights given by the court; In re Burns; In re Curran; Withdrawal of plea; People v. Eck; Denial on the record that any promises were made; People v. Weir; "Competency"; People v. Whyte; People v. Mette; Whether the respondent was entitled to a competency hearing; People v. Inman; People v. Harris; Whether the respondent was denied the effective assistance of counsel; In re EP; Trial strategy; People v. Horn

Court: Michigan Court of Appeals (Unpublished)

Case Name: In re ASC

e-Journal Number: 57806

Judge(s): Per Curiam - Jansen, Saad, and Donofrio

 

The court held that the trial court did not abuse its discretion by denying the respondent-mother's motion to withdraw her release of parental rights to her children because it was made knowingly and voluntarily, she was competent, and she was not denied the effective assistance of counsel. After her termination hearing began, but before it concluded, respondent released her parental rights to the children. "She then abruptly changed her mind and filed a motion for rehearing, which the trial court treated as a motion to withdraw the releases." The trial court denied her motion. On appeal, the court rejected her arguments that "(1) she did not knowingly and voluntarily release her parental rights; (2) the releases, as made, violated MCL 710.29(5)(c) and (d); (3) she was not competent to execute the releases; and (4) her trial counsel gave her ineffective assistance." It first held that she knowingly and voluntarily released her parental rights, finding that she "ultimately admitted that she was releasing her parental rights 'willingly' and that no one was forcing her to do so," that she read the releases before signing them, and that she was not induced by her attorney. It next held that the releases were valid, finding that they complied with the applicable statutes. "Respondent was specifically asked if she was promised anything of value for the releases, and she answered in the negative. She should be held to her record denial." It further held that she was competent to execute the releases and was not entitled to a competency hearing. "There was nothing to indicate that respondent was off her medication or otherwise detrimentally affected by her mental illness at the time she executed the releases, and her words or actions in the transcript do not indicate that she lacked competency such that the court should have inquired into the issue further." Finally, it held that she was not denied the effective assistance of counsel. "Nothing in the record shows that any attorney who represented respondent said anything to her about being able to parent another child if she released her parental rights to the children at issue. Further, despite her claim that counsel's advice rendered counsel ineffective, respondent acknowledged that counsel had 'correctly advis[ed her] of the law regarding termination proceedings and subsequent children . . . .' If counsel provided correct advice, his or her performance was not objectively unreasonable." Affirmed.

 

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