Among the issues in this parental-rights termination case are (1) whether a trial court had a duty to appoint the pro se father an attorney for trial despite his failure to file an indigence affidavit or to request an attorney until after the trial began and (2) whether the mother's affidavit relinquishing her parental rights was voluntary, knowing and intelligent when a month later a probate court appointed a guardian for her for mental-health reasons.
Father. Despite providing an address for service, the father was served by publication for status hearings and for the termination trial and appeared for trial after being subpoenaed. He told the court he was not aware that he had a right to an attorney. At the end of the first day of trial, the court told the father an attorney would have been appointed for him if he had appeared at a pretrial hearing and requested one, but at that point it was too late.
Mother. Before the state took possession of the child, the mother and grandmother executed a guardianship by which the grandmother had responsibility for the child. Child Protective Services took the child after she fell on stairs in the grandmother's loft apartment. In June 2010 the mother irrevocably relinquished her rights to the child. In July 2010 the county court ordered the mother placed under the grandmother's guardianship on evidence that the mother had an IQ of 57 and was bipolar.