J.J. v. Alaska

In J.J. v. Alaska (Alaska 2001) 38 P.3d 7, parental rights were terminated based on abandonment (due to lack of visits occasioned by the unclear case plan that did not provide for visitation) and that adoption was in the children's best interests. (Id. at p. 8.) The Indian expert did not meet or speak with the mother (J.J.), the children, or the mother's counselors, and the file on which the expert relied was incomplete, omitting much of the mother's rehabilitative efforts. (Id. at p. 10.) The mother abstained from alcohol, submitted to drug testing, completed drug treatment and Alcoholics Anonymous to address substance abuse, and was in a healthy, sober relationship. (Id. at p. 9.) Nevertheless, the Indian expert concluded that return would be detrimental because remedying the alcohol abuse problem was a separate issue from abandonment, based on the mother's lack of contact with the children, and the expert speculated that the children would suffer additional trauma if the mother regained custody because the "risks" would continue. (J.J. v. Alaska, supra, 38 P.3d at pp. 9-10.) The reversal there was thus grounded on the expert's reliance on outdated information, and the substantial progress made by the mother to meet the requirements of her case plan and establish a safe home for her children (id. at p. 11).