May 13, 2013
Cite: No. 12cv646; 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 60724 (D. Conn. April 29, 2013)
OREGON: Dept. of Human Servs. V. J.R.L. (In re A.L.)
The Court of Appeals of Oregon reversed and remanded the juvenile courts judgment denying appellant-mothers motion to dismiss jurisdiction and wardship over her daughter and changing the permanency plan from reunification to adoption, concluding that the juvenile court erred in relying on facts outside the previous jurisdictional judgment. Appellant-mothers daughter was placed in appellee-departments custody and made a ward of the court after the juvenile court determined it had jurisdiction based upon appellant-mothers admissions that she had allowed her daughter to be as risk of harm by living with a sexual offender, failed to provide stable housing and failed to meet her daughters educational needs. Subsequently, appellant-mother moved away from the sexual offender and worked on finding stable housing, but did not address her depression which was diagnosed during a psychological examination. At the end of a permanency hearing at which appellee-department sought to change the permanency plan from reunification to adoption, appellant-mother moved to have jurisdiction over her daughter terminated because the conditions alleged no longer existed; the juvenile court denied appellant-mothers motion and changed the permanency plan to adoption. Appellant-mother appealed, arguing that the juvenile court improperly based its decision on mothers mental health which was not one of the original issues. The court of appeals agreed with appellant-mothers argument, holding that a juvenile court cannot base it jurisdictional decision on facts that depart from the petition or jurisdictional judgment when neither the petition nor the jurisdictional judgment would put a reasonable parent on notice of what the parent must do to prevent the state from asserting or continuing jurisdiction over the child. Here, the juvenile court based its decision upon mothers mental health rather than the conditions that were present at the beginning of the case. Therefore, the appellate court reversed the juvenile courts judgment and remanded the case in order for the juvenile court to reconsider the mothers motion without relying on appellant-mothers mental health.
Cite: No. A152500; 2013 Ore. App. LEXIS 474 (Ore. Ct. App. April 24, 2013)
NEW YORK: Admin. For Childrens Services v. Antoine N. (In re Dashawn W.)
The Court of Appeals of New York affirmed the appellate divisions order which found that appellant-fathers conduct was sufficient to demonstrate depraved indifference to his childs life and, therefore, his children were severely abused and further found that the family court properly determined that aggravated circumstances excused appellee-Administration for Childrens Services from exercising diligent efforts to reunite appellant-father with his children. Appellant-father argued that his children were not severely abused as he did not demonstrate a depraved indifference to human life as defined by Penal Law. The Court of Appeals disagreed, holding that jurisprudence under the Penal Law has no bearing on whether a child is severely abused within the meaning of Social Services Law § 384-b(8)(a)(i). For the purposes of that statute circumstances evincing a depraved indifference to human life refers to risk intentionally or recklessly posed to the child by the parents abusive conduct. In addition, appellant-father argued that appellee was required to make diligent efforts to reunify him and his children because a finding of severe abuse does not excuse the reunification requirements. The court of appeals disagreed again, holding that the family court properly found that diligent efforts to encourage reunification would be against the childrens best interests. Therefore, the court of appeals affirmed the appellate divisions order finding appellants children to be severely abused and excusing the appellee from making diligent efforts to reunite the family.
Cite: No. 71; 2013 N.Y. LEXIS 837; 2013 NY Slip Op 2774 (N.Y. April 25, 2013)
TERMINATION OF PARENTAL RIGHTS
MASSACHUSETTS: Adoption of Norbert
The Appeals Court of Massachusetts affirmed the juvenile courts decree terminating appellant-mothers parental rights and dispensing with her consent to her childrens adoption, finding that although the trial judges conduct throughout the life of the case went beyond what was called for, it did not violate appellant-mothers due process rights. Here, appellant-mother claimed that the termination decree should be reversed because the juvenile court judge erred by failing to recuse himself from the trial and acted improperly by questioning the witnesses extensively. The appellate court first found that the judge was not required to recuse himself because although the judge had been highly critical of the appellee-departments actions in the case, the record failed to show any bias or prejudice towards appellant-mother. Second, the appellate court noted that although the judge did question the witnesses excessively during the trial, asking over 1,000 questions, there was no evidence that his behavior prejudiced appellant-mother in any way. Therefore, the appellate court affirmed the decree terminating appellant-mothers parental rights.
Cite: No. 12-P-651; 2013 Mass. App. LEXIS 62 (Mass. Ct. App. April 25, 2013)
Cite: No. 2012 CU 2008; 2012 2008 (La. App. 1 Cir. 04/26/13); 2013 La. App. LEXIS 850 (La. Ct. App. April 26, 2013)
TERMINATION OF PARENTAL RIGHTS
Cite: No. 1 CA-JV 11-0253; 2013 Ariz. App. LEXIS 84 (Az. Ct. App. April 30, 2013)