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In re M.S., a Person Coming Under the Juvenile Court Law. v. M.D

November 30, 2010


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hull, J.

In re M.S. CA3


California Rules of Court, rule 8.1115(a), prohibits courts and parties from citing or relying on opinions not certified for publication or ordered published, except as specified by rule 8.1115(b). This opinion has not been certified for publication or ordered published for purposes of rule 8.1115.

M.D., father of the minor M.S., appeals from the juvenile court's orders terminating his parental rights and denying his petition for modification. (Welf. & Inst. Code, §§ 395, 388, 366.26; undesignated statutory references that follow are to the Welfare and Institutions Code.) He contends that the juvenile court violated due process by terminating his parental rights without prior findings of parental unfitness and detriment, and that his petition for modification should have been granted. We affirm the juvenile court's orders.


The minor was placed in protective custody in March 2008 after her mother, B.S., suffered a seizure and fell onto the platform at a light rail station, leaving the two-year-old minor unattended. The mother was taken to the emergency room, which she left against the doctor's advice.

The Sacramento County Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) filed a dependency petition two days later, alleging jurisdiction pursuant to section 300, subdivision (b). The minor was detained later that month. The juvenile court found that father was the minor's adjudicated father at the detention hearing.

The mother suffered from chronic epileptic seizures, which lasted from five to 10 minutes. The seizures started after she was hit by a truck at the age of seven and suffered a traumatic brain injury. As a result of her seizures, the mother could not be left alone for more than a short time. She was diagnosed with mood disorder, psychotic disorder, low-borderline intellectual functioning, and epilepsy.

Father was interviewed in April 2008. He was not living with the mother, could not address the allegations in the petition, but knew she had seizures. Regarding his relationship with the mother, he said: "we had a relationship. That's it. I'm not going to tell you my life story." Asked if he wanted to be a party to the case and if he wanted to continue the interview, father said he wanted the minor placed with maternal relatives, and asked what forms he had to sign so he could leave.

Father did not ask for services or placement of the minor. His child welfare history included five sustained referrals for general neglect regarding the minor's half siblings between November 2003 and October 2006. His services were terminated in April 2005, but were reinstated following another dependency in August 2006. That dependency was terminated in June 2007.

An amended petition was filed in August 2008, elaborating on the mother's impaired mental functioning, including allegations that she had very low self-care skills, suffered from auditory and visual hallucinations, and was unwilling to follow doctor's orders to refrain from holding the minor or taking her into public alone. The juvenile court sustained the amended petition in August 2008.

The mother was offered reunification services. The juvenile court found father did not want custody of the minor, and no services were offered. The minor was placed with the maternal great-aunt in June 2008.

A November 2008 report noted father was not visiting the minor. He asked the social worker how he could return his other children to their mother. The mother participated in services, but was still unable to be alone with the minor.

DHHS filed a supplemental petition (§ 387) in January 2009 requesting a changed placement, as the maternal great-aunt refused to allow the minor into her home. The juvenile court detained the minor later that month, and placed the minor with a foster family with whom she had been placed before.

Following the February 2009 detention hearing, father told the social worker that he had a medical marijuana card for a bad leg. He agreed to meet the social worker for a ...

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