e-Journal Summary

e-Journal Number : 76346
Opinion Date : 10/14/2021
e-Journal Date : 10/22/2021
Court : Michigan Court of Appeals
Case Name : In re Bourbeau
Practice Area(s) : Termination of Parental Rights
Judge(s) : Per Curiam – Swartzle, Cavanagh, and Gadola
Full Text Opinion

Termination under §§ 19b(3)(c)(i) & (j); In re White; Due process; Timeliness of the termination order; MCL 712A.19b(1) & MCR 3.977(I)(1); In re TC; Equal protection; Ineffective assistance of counsel; Effect of an attorney’s suspension; People v Pubrat; Waiver; Applicability of the MREs; MCR 3.977; Children’s best interests


Rejecting respondent-father’s claims that his rights to due process and equal protection were violated, the court further held that §§ (c)(i) and (j) supported termination and that it was in his children’s best interests. Thus, it affirmed the termination order. It first rejected his argument that the trial court committed reversible error and violated his due process rights because the termination order was not timely issued. “MCL 712A.19b(1) expressly states that ‘[t]he court’s failure to issue an opinion within 70 days does not dismiss the petition.’” In addition, the court held in TC “that a trial court’s violation of the time limits set forth in the court rule does not require dismissal.” As to due process, he failed to show “that he was denied any procedural protections that should have been afforded in the circumstances of this case.” The court further concluded that the fact his attorney (B) was suspended for nonpayment of his bar fees “on one date of the termination hearing does not by itself establish a clear or obvious violation of respondent’s constitutional rights or ineffective assistance of counsel per se.” While B was suspended “at the time of closing arguments, he was still an attorney.” The Supreme Court found in Pubrat that the fact “an attorney continued to practice law while under suspension does not necessitate the conclusion that the attorney’s performance fell below an objective standard of reasonableness.” To the extent he raised additional ineffective assistance of counsel claims, they also failed. The court further found that the trial court correctly determined the MREs did not apply at the termination hearing, and “properly received and considered all relevant and material evidence.” As to statutory grounds for termination, it was “undisputed that more than 182 days had elapsed since the issuance of the initial dispositional order. Also, the trial court did not clearly err in finding by clear and convincing evidence that the conditions that led to the adjudication continued to exist and that there was no reasonable likelihood that the conditions would be rectified within a reasonable time considering the children’s ages.” Respondent waived his claim as to their best interests, and the court concluded that “the trial court considered relevant factors that” the court has determined to be “pertinent to the best-interests determination[.]”

Full Text Opinion