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Case No. 18-1784

In the Interest of C.K., Minor Child

D.R., Father-Appellant

Attorney for Appellant Father

Jack E. Dusthimer

Attorney for Appellee State

John McCormally, Assistant Attorney General

Guardian ad litem

Timothy J. Tupper

Court of Appeals

Court of Appeals Opinion

Opinion Number:
Date Published:
Feb 20, 2019

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Scott County, Nancy S. Tabor, Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Considered by Doyle, P.J., and Mullins and McDonald, JJ.  Opinion by Mullins, J.  Dissent by McDonald, J.  Tabor, J., takes no part.  (8 pages)

            A father appeals the termination of his parental rights to his minor child.  OPINION HOLDS: We find the State proved the statutory ground for termination by clear and convincing evidence, termination is in the best interests of the child, and the father failed to meet his burden to prove a statutory exception to termination.  We affirm the termination of the father’s parental rights.  DISSENT ASSERTS:  I respectfully dissent.  As the juvenile court noted in the termination order, “This case is a close call.”  I agree.  But the State is tasked with proving its case by clear and convincing evidence.  Clear and convincing evidence “is the highest evidentiary burden in civil cases.  It means there must be no serious or substantial doubt about the correctness of a particular conclusion drawn from the evidence.”  In re M.S., 889 N.W.2d 675, 679 (Iowa Ct. App. 2016).  “This significant burden is imposed on the State to minimize the risk of an erroneous deprivation of the parent’s fundamental liberty interest in raising his child.”  Id.  In my view, when the evidence is in equipoise, as it is here, the tie goes to the parent.  I would reverse the order terminating parental rights.

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