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In re Ashley L.
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MAINE SUPREME JUDICIAL COURT			      	                   Reporter of Decisions
Decision:	2001 ME 119
Docket: 	Was-01-127
Submitted
on Briefs:	June 28, 2001
Decided:	July 23, 2001	

Panel:	WATHEN, C.J., and CLIFFORD, RUDMAN, DANA, SAUFLEY, ALEXANDER, and
CALKINS, JJ.




IN RE ASHLEY L.



CLIFFORD, J.

	[¶1]  The mother of Ashley L. appeals from a judgment entered in the
District Court (Machias, Romei, J.) terminating her parental rights.   The
mother contends that the court improperly asserted jurisdiction over the
termination petition in violation of her right of due process and erroneously
found that sufficient evidence existed to support termination of her parental
rights beyond a reasonable doubt.  We are unpersuaded by the mother's
contentions and affirm the judgment.
	[¶2]  Child protective proceedings for Ashley L. were begun in
November of 1996 and Ashley was placed in the custody of the Department
of Human Services after the Department learned of the sexual abuse of
Ashley by her mother's boyfriend and the mother's inability to adequately
provide for Ashley's needs and protect her from further risk.  Ashley's
maternal great aunt was later granted intervenor status and obtained custody
of Ashley.  The aunt's family lived in New Jersey, so Ashley moved to New
Jersey to live with them in the spring of 1997 pursuant to the Interstate
Compact on Placement of Children, 22 M.R.S.A. §§ 4191-4200 (1992).{1} 
The mother moved to New Jersey at that time as well to be closer to Ashley. 
The aunt later filed a petition for termination of the parental rights of
Ashley's mother and father in the District Court (Machias) with Department
support, see 22 M.R.S.A. § 4052(1) (Supp. 2000).  The rights of both
parents were terminated in the District Court on February 6, 2001.  Only the
mother now appeals the termination order.
	[¶3]  The mother first contends that the District Court erred in
asserting jurisdiction over the termination petition, in violation of her
constitutional right of due process, because none of the parties had any
contact with the State of Maine for the three years preceding the filing of
the termination petition.  Title 22 M.R.S.A. section 4051 provides, "A
petition for termination of parental rights must be brought in the court that
issued the final protection order.  The court, for the convenience of the
parties or other good cause, may transfer the petition to another district or
division."  22 M.R.S.A. § 4051 (Supp. 2000).  Furthermore, the Interstate
Compact on Placement of Children, pursuant to which Ashley was placed in
New Jersey, provides:
The sending agency shall retain jurisdiction over the child
sufficient to determine all matters in relation to the custody,
supervision, care, treatment and disposition of the child which
it would have had if the child had remained in the sending
agency's state, until the child is adopted, reaches majority,
becomes self-supporting or is discharged with the concurrence
of the appropriate authority in the receiving state.
22 M.R.S.A. § 4195 (1992).  Thus, Maine was an appropriate forum for a
petition for termination of parental rights in this case as the state in which
the final protection order was issued, even though Ashley was living in New
Jersey.  
	[¶4]  Although the court is permitted to transfer a child protective
proceeding to another jurisdiction with the consent of that jurisdiction,
22 M.R.S.A. § 4195 (1992), the court is not required to do so.  In this case,
the mother does not allege any specific harm she believes she suffered in
having to defend the termination petition in Maine rather than New Jersey. 
The mother was represented by an attorney, and she was permitted to
subpoena out-of-state witnesses and to submit the depositions of out-of-state
witnesses.  Moreover, the court heard the live testimony of Ashley's
therapist, who travelled to Maine from New Jersey to attend the termination
hearing, as well as five other witnesses, and reviewed various clinical reports
regarding both Ashley and the mother.  Although the mother has generally
alleged that defending the petition in Maine was too great a burden, she has
not specifically demonstrated what evidence she was prevented from
offering or how the outcome of the hearing was prejudiced by holding the
proceedings in Maine rather than New Jersey.  In the absence of showing
such harm, we cannot say that the mother was denied her due process
rights because the termination hearing was held in Maine.
	[¶5]  The mother also alleges that insufficient evidence exists in the
record to support the court's findings of parental unfitness and best interest
beyond a reasonable doubt.{2}  We find, however, that the court's findings
were amply supported by sufficient evidence in the record in accordance
with the beyond a reasonable doubt standard.
	The entry is:
		Judgment affirmed.
         
Attorney for appellant: Joyce Mykleby, Esq. P O Box 151 Machias, ME 04654 Attorneys for appellee: G. Steven Rowe, Attorney General Christopher C. Leighton, Asst. Attorney General John H. Hawkes, Asst. Attorney General 6 State House Station Augusta, ME 04333-0006 Guardian ad Litem: James Crotteau, Esq. 950 Douglas Highway Lamoine, ME 04605 Intervenors: John P. Foster, Esq. 71 Water Street Eastport, ME 04631 (for JoAnn B.) Sisseton-Wahpeton Sioux Tribe P O Box 509 Agency Village, SD 5762
FOOTNOTES******************************** {1} . Both Maine and New Jersey participate in the Compact, which permits one state to send a child to another state, while the "sending agency," in this case, the Department, retains jurisdiction over the child's case. 22 M.R.S.A. § 4195 (1992). {2} . The court's findings were made in accordance with the beyond a reasonable doubt standard mandated by the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978, 25 U.S.C. §§ 1901-63 (1983), because Ashley is a child of Native American descent. See 25 U.S.C. § 1912(f) (1983).