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TPR – Sufficiency of Evidence, Likelihood of Meeting Conditions for Return of Children

Dane Co. DHS v. Nikita B., 2011AP2054, District 2, 11/23/11

court of appeals decision (1-judge, not for publication); for Nikita B.: Suzanne l. Hagopian, Eileen Huie; case activity

Evidence held sufficient to sustain termination of parental rights, premised on substantial likelihood parent wouldn’t meet conditions for return of child placed in foster care:

¶8        This court’s review of a jury’s verdict is narrow.  Morden v. Continental AG, 2000 WI 51, ¶38, 235 Wis. 2d 325, 611 N.W.2d 659.  We affirm the jury’s verdict if any credible evidence, under any reasonable view, leads to an inference supporting the jury’s finding.  Id.(citation omitted).  The jury, not the appellate court, is to “balance the credibility of witnesses and the weight given to the testimony of those witnesses.”  Id., ¶39 (citation omitted).

¶18      We disagree with Nikita that the evidence is insufficient.  Although Nikita met some conditions and may have made some progress, several witnesses testified to Nikita’s difficulty with completing recommended programs, providing a safe home, and understanding her children’s needs.  Two social workers, including Maddox, whose testimony was, according to Nikita, “more up to date,” testified that they believed Nikita would not be able to meet the conditions for return within the next nine months.  Their testimony and the other testimony we have summarized is sufficient for a reasonable jury to find clear and convincing evidence of a substantial likelihood that Nikita would not be able to meet the conditions for return within the next nine months.

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