People in Interest of I.J.O., 2019 COA 151

In this decision, the Court of Appeals upholds the termination of the parent-child legal relationship, either rejecting or dismissing three arguments advanced by the respondent mother. 

First, the court holds that the mother’s challenge to the juvenile court’s default entry of adjudication is not timely, as mother did not appeal this order within the time frames established by § 19-1-109 or Colorado Appellate Rule 3.4. 

Second, the Court rejects the mother’s argument that the termination order should be reversed due to her counsel’s alleged ineffectiveness at the adjudication hearing, noting that the mother withdrew her challenge to the default adjudication after the appointment of new counsel and did not raise any claims of ineffective assistance of counsel with regard to the attorney who represented her during the termination hearing.  Acknowledging its decision in In the Interest of A.R., 2018 COA 176, the Court concludes that the alleged deficiencies in counsel’s performance at adjudication did not result in the county department’s failure to prove the fact of adjudication required for termination by § 19-30604(1).

Third, the Court rejects the mother’s ICWA claim, holding that while the juvenile court did not conduct the inquiry required by ICWA, the error was harmless because the mother’s supplemental briefing acknowledged that she did not have any Indian heritage.

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