Case Law Update: 06 April 2009

In re A.R. (Unpub'd), No. B207622

A.R. (minor, born March 2005) was detained from R.R. (father) and M.L. (mother) following allegations under 300 W&IC that parents' history of drug abuse and domestic violence rendered them incapable of providing A.R. with care and supervision. These allegations were sustained and a case plan, including drug treatment and random testing, domestic violence counseling, and parent education for R.R. was ordered. Notwithstanding reports in late 2005 that R.R. was failing to comply with these services, the dependency court ordered in January 2006 that reunification services be extended. At the conclusion of a 12-month review hearing in August, 2006, at which R.R. did not appear, his services were terminated. At a review hearing in December, 2006, at which neither parent appeared, the court terminated M.L.'s services, set a 366.26 hearing and ordered that an adoptive homestudy for A.R.'s caretakers be initiated. Notices were sent to counsel for both parents in late 2006.

In October, 2007, R.R., in pro per, filed a 388 petition alleging that he had not "received adequate notices of any...past hearings" and requesting that "any and all of the dependency court's 'orders of adoption be quashed'." This was set for a contested hearing in January 2007, which was continued several times. In May, 2008, the juvenile court denied R.R.'s 388 petition and terminated his parental rights. R.R. appealed the termination, contending that reasonable reunification services were not provided and that the juvenile court abused its discretion in failing to extend his reunification services beyond the 12-month hearing.

As a preliminary matter, the appellate court noted that the usual rule waiving appeals of termination of parental rights when a petition for extraordinary writ has not been filed did not apply in this case because the fact that R.R.'s parental rights were terminated at a different time than M.L.'s did not trigger the advisement of his right to file a writ petition required by 366.26(l)(3)(A) W&IC. Nonetheless, the appellate court found that substantial evidence supported the juvenile court's conclusions that reasonable services were provided and that R.R. failed multiple times to comply with the terms of those services, including missing more than a dozen scheduled drug tests. Accordingly, the juvenile court's orders were affirmed, and R.R.'s appeal was denied.

Opinion: B207622.PDF, B207622.DOC

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