Kailyn S. v. Alaska Department of Health and Social Services

In Kailyn S. v Alaska Department of Health and Social Services,[1] the supreme court held that it is not an abuse of discretion to deny a motion for a continuance in a termination of parental rights hearing when the motion is only supported by a speculative assertion that it is necessary.  Kailyn, a mother, filed for a continuance five days before her termination of parental rights hearing in a Child in Need of Aid (CINA) case. Kailyn argued that the continuance was necessary because she had been offered a job on a fishing vessel that was scheduled to leave immediately, and because she needed more time to speak with her attorney, so the attorney could provide effective assistance. The superior court denied her motion, and at the subsequent hearing terminated Kailyn’s parental rights for two of her children. Kailyn appealed arguing the superior court had abused its discretion.  On appeal, the supreme court emphasized the broad discretion exercised by the superior court when granting or denying a continuance. It noted that Kailyn failed to explain how she would receive more effective legal assistance should the continuance have been granted, that her motion was not supported by evidence, and that she had not proposed a definite length for the continuance. The supreme court explained that a court’s decision to deny a continuance is reviewed for abuse of discretion, and that because CINA cases are time-sensitive it was reasonable for the superior court to prioritize the children’s interest in permanency over granting a request for a continuance supported only by speculation. Affirming the superior court, the supreme court held denying a motion for a continuance in a termination of parental rights hearing is not an abuse of discretion when the motion is only supported by a speculative assertion that it is necessary for effective legal assistance.

[1] 420 P.3d 1232 (Alaska 2018).

Kailyn S. v. Alaska Department of Health and Social Services

In Kailyn S. v Alaska Department of Health and Social Services,[1] the supreme court held that it is not an abuse of discretion to deny a motion for a continuance in a termination of parental rights hearing when the motion is only supported by a speculative assertion that it is necessary.  Kailyn, a mother, filed for a continuance five days before her termination of parental rights hearing in a Child in Need of Aid (CINA) case. Kailyn argued that the continuance was necessary because she had been offered a job on a fishing vessel that was scheduled to leave immediately, and because she needed more time to speak with her attorney, so the attorney could provide effective assistance. The superior court denied her motion, and at the subsequent hearing terminated Kailyn’s parental rights for two of her children. Kailyn appealed arguing the superior court had abused its discretion.  On appeal, the supreme court emphasized the broad discretion exercised by the superior court when granting or denying a continuance. It noted that Kailyn failed to explain how she would receive more effective legal assistance should the continuance have been granted, that her motion was not supported by evidence, and that she had not proposed a definite length for the continuance. The supreme court explained that a court’s decision to deny a continuance is reviewed for abuse of discretion, and that because CINA cases are time-sensitive it was reasonable for the superior court to prioritize the children’s interest in permanency over granting a request for a continuance supported only by speculation. Affirming the superior court, the supreme court held denying a motion for a continuance in a termination of parental rights hearing is not an abuse of discretion when the motion is only supported by a speculative assertion that it is necessary for effective legal assistance.

[1] 420 P.3d 1232 (Alaska 2018).