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157907 - In re J Feranti, Minor

In re J. Ferranti, Minor



David M. Delaney (GAL)




Department of Health and Human Services,


Manda M. Breuker





(Appeal from Ct of Appeals)

(Otsego – Cooper, M.)




Vivek S. Sankarin





Respondents are the biological parents of a child with spina bifida and other medical issues. In 2015, the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) filed a petition alleging medical and physical neglect of the child, who was then removed from respondents’ home and placed in foster care. Both respondents admitted to certain allegations in the petition, and the family court assumed jurisdiction over the child. Respondents did not appeal the adjudication. When respondents failed to show progress with their case-service plan, the family court terminated their parental rights. On appeal, respondents challenged the family court’s initial adjudication, arguing that the court failed to explain the consequences of a plea admitting jurisdiction, and failed to inform them of the rights they were waiving. They also argued that the family court judge erred in visiting their home and interviewing their child in chambers. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that respondents’ collateral challenge to the initial adjudication was barred under In re Hatcher, 443 Mich 426 (1993), and rejecting respondents’ remaining arguments. The Supreme Court has directed oral argument on respondents’ application for leave to appeal to address: (1) whether In re Hatcher, 443 Mich 426 (1993), correctly held that the collateral attack rule applied to bar respondents from challenging the court’s initial exercise of jurisdiction over the respondents on appeal from an order terminating parental rights in that same proceeding; (2) if not, (a) by what standard should courts review respondents’ challenge to the initial adjudication, in light of the respondents’ failure to appeal the first dispositional order appealable of right, see MCR 3.993(A)(1), and (b) what must a respondent do to preserve for appeal any alleged errors in the adjudication, see e.g., In re Hudson, 483 Mich 928 (2009); (3) if Hatcher was correctly decided, whether due process concerns may override the collateral bar rule, see In re Sanders, 495 Mich 394 (2014), and In re Wangler, 498 Mich 911 (2015); (4) whether a family court is permitted to visit a respondent’s home to observe its condition, and, if so, what parameters should apply to doing so; and (5) whether a family court may interview a child who is the subject of child-protective proceedings in chambers, and, if so, what parameters should apply.​