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In Re N.P. A Person Coming Under the Juvenile Court Law. v. the Superior Court of San Francisco County

December 16, 2010


(City & County of San Francisco Super. Ct. No. JD08-3283)

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Pollak, Acting P.J.

In re N.P. CA1/3


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 This opinion has not been certified for publication or ordered published for purposes of rule 8.1115.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 father and mother of two-year-old N.P. each petition for review of an order denying them reunification services and setting a permanency planning hearing under Welfare and Institutions Code section 366.26.*fn1 Father contends the juvenile court erred in terminating reunification services, setting a permanency planning hearing and in denying his request for unsupervised visitation with N.P. Mother contends the trial court erred in refusing her an additional six months of reunification services and in setting the matter for a permanency planning hearing. We conclude that the court's findings are supported by substantial evidence and shall deny the petitions on the merits.


A dependency petition was filed in October 2008, three days after N.P. was born, alleging that N.P. was "at a substantial risk for serious physical harm inflicted nonaccidentally by the mother or the father who are currently involved in a relationship that is characterized by violence." The petition alleges that mother tested positive for marijuana at delivery, that she had a substance abuse problem for which she was receiving treatment, that mother had left father to stay at a domestic violence shelter "several times in the past," that mother's family had 30 child welfare referrals for allegations of abuse and neglect, that mother had extensive mental health history for which she was receiving treatment, and that father had anger management issues for which he was receiving treatment.

The report prepared for the detention hearing states that mother reported that father "pushed a sword against [mother's] chest and threatened to 'cut that baby right out of her stomach,' " that approximately one month before N.P. was born mother was observed by hospital staff to have "what appeared to be choke marks on her neck and reported that [father] choked her and dragged her across the room." Father reported that "his violent behavior is in reaction to [mother's] violence towards him. [Father] conceded that he choked and pushed the mother because she was trying to throw boiling water at him." The report also stated that mother had extensive psychiatric issues including severe depression, borderline personality disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, manic depression with possible psychotic features, and auditory hallucinations. She was prescribed multiple drugs, but told the social worker that "medication does not work for her because she just feels worse, like a zombie, and she doesn't feel any relief from her painful depression, anger or anxiety." Mother was receiving anger management counseling.

On October 15, the court ordered N.P. detained and issued a mutual stay away order to father and mother. Another mutual stay away order was issued on November 12. A disposition report was filed on November 21 in which the social worker reported that mother had acknowledged that she often instigated the violence in her relationship with father, including having thrown boiling water at him in the incident described in the detention report.

At the time of the disposition report, mother was receiving services including "anger management, art therapy, detox acupuncture/holistic healing, women's empowerment, connecting/coping, and prostitution/domestic violence classes." She had completed two parenting classes. Mother's medical records from July 4, 2008, reflected that she had been experiencing auditory hallucinations for "the past few months," including hearing voices. On October 22, mother was receiving individual therapy and was on psychotropic medication. She had a medical marijuana card and was using marijuana "to treat anxiety, depression and her appetite."

Father was enrolled in a year-long "batterers intervention program to address domestic violence" and had completed a different domestic violence program.

N.P. was placed with a relative of mother. Mother and father both had a supervised visitation schedule.

The disposition report recommended that reunification services not be provided to father because he had not obtained presumed father status. It recommended services for mother, including that she continue to visit with N.P., that she complete substance abuse, domestic violence, and anger management programs, that she comply with the stay away order, and that she continue to receive mental health services.

On December 8, the court declared father to be the presumed father of N.P. An addendum report was filed recommending that father receive reunification services, including that he comply with the stay-away order, that he complete an anger management program, that he visit N.P. regularly, and that he participate in individual counseling.

On March 12, 2009, mother and father submitted to the allegations and the court found that a factual basis existed for the allegations. The court found that mother and father had both made moderate progress in their case plans and that N.P. could likely be returned to their custody by September 2, 2009. Services were offered for an additional six months and a hearing was set for September 2.

On May 18, father filed a request for a change in court order under section 388 asking that he be allowed unsupervised visitation with N.P. The request stated that father had engaged in supervised visitation since October 2008, that he had demonstrated that he knew how to care for N.P., that there were frequent problems with transportation such that N.P. was required to stay for long periods in a car, and that he would be willing to drive to where N.P. was placed to visit with her. A hearing was set for July 6. The record does not reflect a hearing on that date and father's request for change in order was not heard until the 18-month review in September 2010.

A status review report was filed on August 14, 2009, in advance of the six-month review hearing on September 2, 2009. The social worker reported that mother "is committed to reunifying with her daughter. She continues to be punctual to her scheduled visits. . . . [Mother] carries her own diaper bag and attends to her daughter's needs during the visit[s]." However, mother's supervised visits were cancelled as of June 26, 2009, because mother engaged in a physical altercation with her 11-year-old cousin and mother's grandmother was hit while trying to intervene. Mother had completed a 26-week anger management program and ...

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