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In Re Gloria S., A Person Coming Under the Juvenile Court v. Adriana P

December 17, 2010


Super. Ct. No. J516610B APPEAL from an order of the Superior Court of San Diego County, Yvonne E. Campos, Judge. Affirmed.

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

In re Gloria S. CA4/1


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 This opinion has not been certified for publication or ordered published for purposes of rule 8.1115.

Adriana P. appeals a juvenile court order terminating her parental rights to her minor daughter, Gloria S., under Welfare and Institutions Code section 366.26.*fn1 Adriana contends her due process rights were violated when notice of the section 366.26 selection and implementation hearing was not given to her in a "meaningful" way that she could understand in light of her intellectual disabilities. Adriana further contends the court abused its discretion by denying her request for a continuance. We affirm the order.


In December 2008 the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency (Agency) filed a petition in the juvenile court under section 300, subdivision (b), alleging five-day-old Gloria was at substantial risk of harm because her parents, Adriana and Richard S. (together, the parents),*fn2 were incapable of providing her with regular care due to their mental illnesses and limited intellectual functioning. The petition also alleged the parents lost custody of another child, R.S., and failed to reunify with him because of unresolved issues related to the parents' diagnoses. The court detained Gloria in out-of-home care.

Adriana has cerebral palsy, is mildly mentally retarded and walks with the assistance of a walker. Richard has various personality disorders and borderline intellectual functioning. The parents received 18 months of services in R.S.'s case, including San Diego Regional Center and in-home support services, therapy, psychological evaluations, parenting education and visitation. When the parents were unable to reunify with R.S., the court terminated their parental rights to him.

At a contested jurisdiction and disposition hearing concerning Gloria, the parents were present and represented by counsel. The court sustained the allegations of the petition, declared Gloria a dependent and placed her in licensed foster care. The court declined to follow Agency's recommendation for no services, and ordered reunification services for the parents, including supervised visits with Gloria.

In a six-month review report, social worker Anthony Scheri stated the parents had not consistently shown they could safely parent Gloria. Scheri recommended the court terminate reunification services and set a section 366.26 selection and implementation hearing. He also recommended the parents' visitation with Gloria remain supervised based on his concerns about the parents' ability to safely care for her in an unsupervised setting.

Social worker Jo Miller reported that during a visit she supervised, the parents asked if Agency's permanent plan recommendation for Gloria was still adoption. Miller said she was still recommending the court "terminate services and set a .26 hearing." During a later visit, Adriana again asked Miller if she was still recommending adoption for Gloria. Miller explained to Adriana that she was "recommending termination of reunification services and setting a .26 hearing to terminate parental rights." Miller reminded Adriana "this is what the upcoming trial is about." Adriana seemed upset and said that if she had her way she would "snag" Gloria from the social worker.

The parents were present at the contested six-month review hearing. The court found by clear and convincing evidence that returning Gloria to parental custody would be detrimental to her physical and emotional well-being, and there was no substantial probability Gloria would be returned to her parents in the next six months. Finding the parents had not made substantive progress with their case plans, the court terminated services, set a hearing to select and implement a permanent plan under section 366.26, and ordered the parents to return for that hearing on May 11, 2010.

Immediately after the hearing, Adriana was personally served with notice of the selection and implementation hearing.*fn3 The notice informed Adriana that the social worker was recommending termination of parental rights and implementation of a plan of adoption. One of the pages, entitled "IMPORTANT NOTICE," provided that a section 366.26 hearing had been set, at which the court could terminate parental rights and free Gloria for adoption, establish legal guardianship, or place Gloria in a planned permanent living arrangement. The notice also informed Adriana she had the right to be present at that hearing and have an attorney represent her.

At the selection and implementation hearing on May 11, 2010, the parents were not present, but were represented by counsel. Richard's counsel informed the court that Richard declined to attend the hearing and was not in agreement with the recommended permanent plan of adoption for Gloria. Adriana's counsel said Adriana "was pretty much in agreement with [Richard]." The court found both parents had been notified of the hearing, but voluntarily chose to not attend. Adriana's counsel then requested a continuance so that Adriana could review the social ...

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