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Michelle E v. the Superior Court of

December 8, 2010


(Solano County Super. Ct. No. J38734)

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

Michelle E. v. Super. Ct. CA1/4


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 This opinion has not been certified for publication or ordered published for purposes of rule 8.1115.

The juvenile court terminated family reunification services and scheduled a permanency planning hearing for Kristine K., a child who was removed from the family home due to the mother's neglect and substance abuse. (Welf. & Inst. Code, § 366.26.) The mother of the child, Michelle E. (Mother), petitions this court for extraordinary writ review. (Cal. Rules of Court, rule 8.452.) Mother claims there is insufficient evidence to support the court's finding that returning the child to her custody would create a substantial risk of detriment to the child's safety, protection, or physical or emotional well-being. We find substantial evidence supporting the juvenile court's ruling and deny Mother's petition on the merits.

I. facts and procedural history

A. Prior proceedings finding child neglect

Mother has a twenty-year history of drug addiction and child neglect. The first contact between Mother and the Solano County Department of Child Welfare Services (County) occurred in 1990, when Mother's second child was born with exposure to amphetamines. The County filed a petition to assert jurisdiction over the infant (Bryan), and filed a later petition in 1991 concerning Mother's two children (Patrick and Bryan) that alleged physical abuse of Patrick. The children were returned to Mother's care and Mother was given family maintenance services. In 1993, another petition was filed, this one alleging physical abuse of the toddler Bryan, and methamphetamine use. Mother received 18 months of family reunification services but Mother failed to reunify with either of her two children. The children were permanently removed from her custody.

Mother had two more children: Brent, born in 1996, and Kristine, born in 2003, who is the subject of this writ proceeding. In 2004, a child welfare agency in Glenn County filed a petition alleging neglect of Brent and Kristine. Mother had been arrested while driving under the influence of an intoxicant (DUI) with Brent and Kristine in the car. She was charged with DUI and child endangerment and those charges, with other allegations, were the basis for the 2004 petition. Mother received almost 12 months of family reunification services and the children were returned to her custody in 2005. In 2006, Mother gave birth to her fifth child, a boy named Jesse. Mother was 40 years old at the time.

B. The current petition and jurisdictional hearing

On July 19, 2008, Mother was arrested for domestic violence and her children (Brent, Kristine, and Jesse) were taken into protective custody. According to the police report, Mother drove to the residence of her boyfriend (John W., the presumed father of Brent) around 10 p.m. with 5-year old Kristine and 17-month old Jesse in the car. She stopped the car in the street, left the car with her children unattended, walked up to John W., and attacked him. Mother hit and scratched John W.'s face. During the attack, Kristine left the car and ran into the street. The police arrested Mother on charges of domestic violence and child endangerment. Mother later admitted to a County social worker that she had consumed a pint of whiskey, smoked methamphetamines, and taken an opiate pill on the day she attacked John W. Mother also admitted that she drank almost daily, and received methadone to treat a heroin addiction.

A contested jurisdictional hearing was held on October 14, 2008. By that time, an amended petition had been filed on behalf of Kristine and Jesse. Brent was excluded from the petition, and he is not the subject of the proceedings relevant here.*fn1 Mother failed to appear at the jurisdictional hearing but was represented by appointed counsel. The County's jurisdictional report summarized Mother's prior history, some of which is set out above, and documented Mother's repeated substance abuse and child neglect. After considering the report and hearing from witnesses, the court sustained allegations that Mother had a history of substance abuse, that her addiction to alcohol and drugs endangered her children, that the children were at risk of serious emotional damage as a result of domestic violence witnessed by the children, that two of the children's siblings had been removed from home because of Mother's substance abuse and physical abuse, and that prior County intervention did not resolve the family's problems. The domestic violence included not only Mother's 2008 attack upon John W., but also a 2008 attack upon Mother by a prior boyfriend, Michael K., Kristine's presumed father. The court adjudged Kristine and Jesse to be dependents of the court. (Welf. & Inst. Code, § 300, subds. (b), (c), (j).)

At the November 12, 2008 disposition hearing, the court placed the children with their maternal grandmother in Shasta County, granted Mother supervised visitation and family reunification services, and ordered Mother to comply with a case plan and ordered services.*fn2 The case plan required Mother to, among other things, abstain from the use of drugs and alcohol; submit to drug and alcohol testing; participate in counseling to address parenting skills, substance abuse, domestic violence, and personal functioning; and not use corporal punishment. Mother was notified that reunification services could be terminated in six months because the provision of reunification services ...

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