Attorney Horowitz wins reversal in Alaska Supreme Court
Updated: Oct 9
Attorney Michael Horowitz won an Alaska Supreme Court reversal of a parental rights termination back in 2020. That case was remanded to the trial court and the parents should have been given a do over. However, instead of the second chance required to correct the problems that Attorney Horowitz raised on appeal, the trial court just "re-terminated" the parents' rights without reopening their case. This was obviously not the intent of the 2020 Alaska Supreme Court decision, so we appealed again.
This go-round, the Alaska Supreme Court again reversed the trial court and again remanded the case. In its reversal order, the Alaska Supreme Court agreed with most of Attorney Horowitz's arguments and the order itself appears to borrow more than a few items from our brief. Video of the oral arguments and a photo file of the Alaska Supreme Court's order are below. For context, here is the conclusion of Attorney Horowitz's opening brief:
It is an understatement to characterize the direction this case took on remand as problematic. This Court issued a published opinion in December 2020 reversing the termination of Edna’s rights and remanding the case to remedy the flawed FIT Court procedure. But now in March 2022, Edna is still pointing to the same deficiencies and asking this Court for the same relief.
This Court should again reverse the termination of Edna’s rights. But this Court should consider using a louder voice. This Court should hold that the FIT Court and subsequent procedure on remand deprived Edna of her state and federal constitutional rights to due process. This Court should instruct the trial court that the parents are indeed no longer in FIT Court. This Court should unambiguously tell the trial court that it erred and needlessly delayed the resolution of this case. This Court should unambiguously tell the governmental parties that their novel interpretations of this Court’s decision were wrong and led to needless delay in this case and in the children’s permanence. This Court should unambiguously instruct the parties that reunification efforts are to begin immediately.
Oral arguments are available here or through the embedded player below. Attorney Horowitz argues first and it's a fairly quick watch.
The Alaska Supreme Court's order does not beat around the bush and is only a few pages long:
Hopefully the Alaska Supreme Court has made the issues sufficiently clear for the parties and court to get this case done right this time.