Oral Argument Before the Hawaii Supreme Court

(Amended 10/23/13)

No. SCWC-12-0000521, Thursday, December 5, 2013,  8:45 a.m.


In the Interest of TM.

The above-captioned case has been set for argument on the merits at:

Supreme Court Courtroom
Ali`iolani Hale, 2nd Floor
417 South King Street
Honolulu, HI 96813


Attorney for Petitioner/Appellant-Mother:

Benjamin E. Lowenthal

Attorney for Respondent/Appellee DHS:

Mary Anne Magnier and Nolan Chock, Deputy Attorneys General

NOTE: Order accepting Application for Writ of Certiorari, filed 10/22/13.

COURT: MER, CJ; PAN, SRA, SSM, & RWP, JJ.

[ Listen to the entire audio recording in mp3 format ]

Brief Description:

On January 6, 2010, the Department of Human Services filed a petition to assert temporary foster custody over Petitioner/Mother-Appellant (Mother) and a separate petition to assert temporary foster custody over her son. Mother was sixteen years old when the petition was filed.

On January 12, 2010 the family court appointed counsel for son’s father and Mother’s mother. The court also appointed a guardian at litem for Mother to protect her interests as a minor. However, the court did not appoint counsel for Mother to protect her interests as son’s mother until September 13, 2011, nineteen months after DHS filed its petitions to assert temporary foster custody.

A hearing to terminate Mother’s parental rights was held on March 2, 2012. Mother asked the court to continue the hearing to allow her more time to demonstrate that she could provide a safe family home for son. The court denied Mother’s request for a continuance. After the hearing, the court concluded that Mother could not provide a safe family home for son and therefore terminated Mother’s parental rights.

The ICA held that the court did not abuse its discretion because the failure to appoint counsel did not lead to an erroneous decision,and the court did not abuse its discretion in denying Mother’s requests for a continuance because Mother was given a reasonable amount of time to demonstrate she was able to provide son with a safe family home.

In her Application, Mother asks whether the failure to appoint counsel violated her due process rights under the United States Constitution and Hawaiʻi Constitution, and whether the court abused its discretion in denying her request to continue the termination hearing.

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