Margaret H. v. Arizona Dept. of Econ. Sec. – 12/21/2006

December 28, 2006

Arizona Court of Appeals Division Two Reverses Summary Judgment Terminating Parental Rights of Mother With History of Drug Abuse.

The juvenile court granted a motion by the Arizona Department of Economic Security (“ADES”) for summary judgment to terminate the parental rights of Margaret H. (“Mother”) based on Mother’s history of substance abuse and her child’s nine-month out-of-home placement. Mother appealed, arguing that an affidavit she had submitted raised genuine issues of material fact and that the juvenile court had improperly judged her credibility in granting the motion for summary judgment. Division Two overturned the grant of summary judgment based on a determination that statements from Mother’s affidavit regarding actions by both ADES and Mother raised disputes of material fact. Judge Espinosa, in dissent, found the case to be a “close” one, but concluded that the “merely conclusory and self-serving” assertions by Mother’s affidavit were insufficient to defeat the motion for summary judgment in view of the sufficient, unrefuted evidence that justified the ruling of the juvenile court.

Judge Brammer wrote the opinion and was joined by Presiding Judge Eckerstrom; Judge Espinosa dissented.