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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the district court terminating Mother’s parental rights to her two children pursuant to Me. Rev. Stat. 22, 4055(1)(A)(1)(a), (1)(B)(2)(b)(i)-(ii), (iv). The Supreme Judicial Court held (1) there was competent evidence to support the district court’s findings that Mother failed to take responsibility for her children and was unwilling and unable to protect the children from jeopardy, and that both of these circumstances were unlikely to change within a time reasonably calculated to meet the children’s needs; and (2) the district court acted within its discretion when it declined to continue the termination hearing for testimony that was cumulative and not likely to affect the judgment. View "In re Alexavier G." on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the district court terminating Mother’s parental rights to her two children pursuant to Me. Rev. Stat. 22, 4055(1)(A)(1)(a) and (B)(2)(a), (b)(i), (b)(ii). Mother appealed, challenging the sufficiency of the evidence supporting the district court’s finding of parental unfitness and the determination that termination was in the best interest of the children. The Supreme Judicial Court held (1) the evidence was sufficient to support the district court’s findings of parental unfitness; and (2) the district court did not clearly err or abuse its discretion in its finding and conclusion that termination of Mother’s parental rights, with a permanency plan of adoption, was in the best interests of the children. View "In re Zianna G." on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the State Board of Property Tax Review granting Emera Maine’s request for a property tax abatement for tax year 2012 pursuant to Me. Rev. Stat. 36, 841(1). Emera Maine was in the business of transporting and distributing electric power over transmission lines. The Board found that Emera’s abatement applications concerned an issue of error or illegality in assessment amounting to double taxation. The superior court affirmed the decision of the Board. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that the evidence supported the Board’s finding that Emera’s error in estimating a value for and reporting ownership of a transmission line that Emera did not own resulted in an “illegality, error or irregularity in assessment” rather than an “error in the valuation of property,” thus entitling Emera to an abatement pursuant to Me. Rev. Stat. 36, 841(1). View "Town of Eddington v. Emera Maine" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court vacated in part the judgment of the superior court affirming in part the Department of Environmental Protection’s partial denial of Appellants’ Freedom of Access Act (FOAA) request for public records related to Dubois Livestock, Inc. While the Department provided a substantial set of records to Appellants, it denied access to records that would be privileged against discovery or use as evidence in the course of a court proceeding. The Supreme Judicial Court (1) affirmed the superior court’s judgment as to the records that were withheld pursuant to the work product privilege; but (2) vacated the superior court’s judgment as to the records that were withheld based on the informant identity privilege, holding that there were factual disputes regarding findings necessary to a determination that there was “just and proper cause” for the Department’s withholding of records containing the identities of complainants. View "Dubois v. Department of Environmental Protection" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court granting the Department of Environmental Protection’s request for a permanent injunction prohibiting Dubois Livestock, Inc. and the Randrick Trust (collectively, Appellants) from denying the Department access for solid waste inspections. The court held (1) the superior court did not err in concluding that Me. Rev. Stat. 38, 347-C and 1304(4-A) permit the Department to enter Appellants’ property without consent or an administrative search warrant; and (2) the warrantless searches authorized by these statutes do not violate Appellants’ constitutional right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. View "State v. Dubois Livestock, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the district court terminating Parents’ parental rights to their child. The Supreme Judicial Court held (1) the Department of Health and Human Services satisfied its obligation to provide necessary services to Mother; (2) the district court did not err in finding that Mother was unable to protect the child from jeopardy or take responsibility for him within a time that was reasonably calculated to meet his needs; and (3) the district court did not err in determining that the termination of Mother’s parental rights was in the child’s best interest. View "In re Dominyk T." on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the district court terminating Mother’s parental rights to her five children pursuant to Me. Rev. Stat. 22, 4055(1)(A)(1)(a) and (B)(2)(a), (b)(i)-(ii). The Supreme Judicial Court held (1) district court’s findings of fact were supported by competent evidence in the record; (2) the district court did not err in its finding of parental unfitness and did not err in determining that termination of Mother’s parental rights, with a permanency plan of adoption, was in the children’s best interests; and (3) contrary to Mother’s arguments, the Department of Health and Human Services complied with Me. Rev. Stat. 22, 4041 by providing Mother with home community treatment services. View "In re Aiden J." on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the judgment of the probate court terminating Father’s parental rights to his two daughters in anticipation of an adoption. The Supreme Judicial Court held that the probate court’s finding of parental unfitness and its determination of the children’s best interests were not supported by clear and convincing evidence in the record. Specifically, the court held (1) the record did not include sufficient evidence regarding parental unfitness, the best interests of the children, and the history of the prospective adopting parent; (2) the court improperly excluded Father’s testimony regarding his future plans for reunification with his children; and (3) the court abused its discretion in concluding that termination of Father’s parental rights was in the children’s best interests. View "In re Adoption of Isabelle T." on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgments entered in two cases in the Unified Criminal Docket after a consolidated jury-waived trial. In the first case, the court found in favor of Defendant on the State’s complaint alleging that Defendant had fished without a valid fishing license. In the other case, the court denied the State’s petition for forfeiture of lobsters seized from Defendant’s boat. The Supreme Judicial Court held (1) the court did not err in concluding that the State had not met its burden of proving that Defendant’s fishing activity was unlawful; and (2) consequently, the court did not err by concluding that the lobsters seized from Defendant’s boat were not subject to forfeiture. View "State v. White" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the order of the superior court, which vacated the district court’s order denying Mark Walker’s motion to set aside the default judgment in this small claims case. Because Walker appealed from the district court’s exercise of discretion in denying his motion to set aside the default, the superior court’s authority was purely on questions of law. The Supreme Judicial Court held that the superior court made certain factual findings that exceeded its authority and vacated the district court’s judgment based on facts it found independently, and therefore, the superior court exceeded its authority. The court remanded the case to the superior court with instructions to determine whether the district court abused its discretion in adjudicating the motion to set aside the default without a hearing. View "Taylor v. Walker" on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure