Webster County 16-JA-80
Mother E.H., by counsel Howard J. Blyler, appeals the Circuit
Court of Webster County's November 8, 2017, order
terminating the father's parental rights to
The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources
("DHHR"), by counsel Brandolyn N. Felton-Ernest,
filed a response in support of the circuit court's order.
The guardian ad litem ("guardian"), Mary Elizabeth
Snead, filed a response on behalf of the child, also in
support of the circuit court's order and a supplemental
appendix. On appeal, petitioner argues that the circuit court
erred in terminating the father's parental rights to R.L.
Court has considered the parties' briefs and the record
on appeal. The facts and legal arguments are adequately
presented, and the decisional process would not be
significantly aided by oral argument. Upon consideration of
the standard of review, the briefs, and the record presented,
the Court finds that petitioner lacks standing to raise her
appeal. For these reasons, a memorandum decision dismissing
the appeal is appropriate under Rule 27 of the Rules of
October of 2016, the DHHR filed an abuse and neglect petition
against K.L., the father of R.L. Petitioner is the mother of
R.L. and was at all times throughout the proceedings below a
circuit court held an adjudicatory hearing in December of
2016, during which the father stipulated to the allegations
contained in the petition. The circuit court accepted the
father's stipulation and adjudicated him as an abusing
parent. Thereafter, the circuit court held an initial
dispositional hearing wherein the father was granted a
post-adjudicatory improvement period. The circuit court
ordered the father to (1) participate in parenting and adult
life skills classes, (2) participate in supervised
visitation, (3) remain drug and alcohol free, (4) participate
in drug screens, and (5) maintain suitable housing.
circuit court held a final dispositional hearing in October
of 2017, during which several witnesses testified as to the
father's noncompliance with his improvement period. After
hearing evidence, the circuit court found that there was no
reasonable likelihood that the father could correct the
conditions of abuse and neglect and that termination was
necessary for the child's welfare. It is from the
November 8, 2017, dispositional order terminating the
father's parental rights that petitioner
argues that the circuit court erred in terminating the
father's parental rights to R.L. The record on appeal
clearly demonstrates that the father was a party to these
proceedings and was represented by an attorney throughout.
Simply put, petitioner lacks standing to assert an assignment
of error on behalf of another party. We have previously held
"[t]raditionally, courts have been reluctant to allow
persons to claim standing to vindicate the rights of a third
party on the grounds that third parties are generally the
most effective advocates of their own rights and that such
litigation will result in an unnecessary adjudication of
rights which the holder either does not wish to assert or
will be able to enjoy regardless of the outcome of the
case." Snyder v. Callaghan, 168 W.Va. 265, 279,
284 S.E.2d 241, 250 (1981) (citation omitted).
Kanawha Cty. Pub. Library Bd. v. Bd. of Educ. of Cty. of
Kanawha, 231 W.Va. 386, 398, 745 S.E.2d 424, 436 (2013).
This concept has been recognized in regard to parties of
child abuse and neglect proceedings. See In re J.G.,
No. 16-0337, 2016 WL 4611246, at *3 (W.Va. Sept. 6,
2016)(memorandum decision)(recognizing that petitioner father
lacked standing to appeal limitation on mother's
visitation). As such, the Court declines to address this
assignment of error on appeal.
foregoing reasons, we hereby dismiss petitioner's appeal.
CONCURRED IN BY: Chief Justice Margaret L. Workman, Justice
Robin Jean Davis, Justice Menis E. Ketchum, Justice Allen H.
Loughry II, Justice Elizabeth D. Walker.