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In Re D.J. et al., Persons Coming Under the Juvenile Court v. D.L

March 2, 2011

IN RE D.J. ET AL., PERSONS COMING UNDER THE JUVENILE COURT LAW. SACRAMENTO COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, PLAINTIFF AND RESPONDENT,
v.
D.L., DEFENDANT AND APPELLANT.



Super. Ct. Nos. JD230215, JD230216

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

In re D.J. CA3

NOT TO BE PUBLISHED

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 This opinion has not been certified for publication or ordered published for purposes of rule 8.1115.

Appellant D.L., mother of D.J. and J.L. (the minors), appeals from orders of the juvenile court adjudging the minors dependent children and removing them from her physical custody. (Welf. & Inst. Code, §§ 300, 361, 395; section references that follow are to this code.)

Appellant contends substantial evidence does not support the court's finding that the minors were at risk of serious harm or that they would be in substantial danger if left in her care. We affirm the juvenile court's orders.

FACTS AND PROCEEDINGS

At the time of detention, D.J. was six years old and J.L. was eight.

On September 29, 2009, emergency personnel responded to appellant's request for medical attention. Officers inspected appellant's home and found "there was no food and there were several roaches and other insects in the house." The minors told officers they "do not eat unless they go to school" and "[appellant] only feeds them paper and chocolate milk." Officers found a rotten carton of chocolate milk in the refrigerator and dirty dishes "everywhere." The minors were removed from the home and placed into protective custody.

On September 30, 2009, social workers interviewed emergency responders, representatives of Arizona Child Protective Services (CPS), the minors, the maternal grandmother, and appellant. Sacramento Police Sergeant Jeff Naff said appellant called the fire department complaining of abdominal pain, and told responders she "had no family to care for the [minors] while she went to the hospital." Naff inspected the home and found "a carton of old chocolate milk in the refrigerator and . . . frozen vegetables and chicken in the freezer." There were cockroaches, the home had no mattresses, and very little furniture. The minors told him they "slept in the closet in suitcases." Appellant became irate when officers told her the minors had been placed in protective custody. When they attempted to calm her down, she accused them of threatening her life and threatening to kill her.

D.J. told social workers he and his brother, J.L., sleep with appellant. He said, "We always go to the store and my mom always buys beer and alcohol and she drinks hard liquor." He denied that appellant acted differently when she drank, but said, "She drinks a lot of beer and buys cigarettes. That's all she do [sic]."

J.L. told social workers the house was messy with piles of clean clothes piled up on appellant's air mattress, and there were bugs and roaches in the home. J.L. had an old scar on his left shoulder and back. He explained that appellant had butter on her hands and the knife she was holding "accidentally slipped on his back shoulder when he came into the kitchen."

A representative of Arizona CPS reported that a case was opened on May 11, 2009, after appellant was temporarily hospitalized for "delusional and paranoid statements," including that she was being held by terrorists and that terrorists told J.L. to torture her. The case was closed on June 30, 2009, when the social worker assigned to the case was unable to contact appellant following her release from the hospital.

The maternal grandmother told social workers she was concerned that appellant did not always take the minors to school. She said appellant has been a recovering alcoholic and drug addict for at least two years, and stated appellant's hospitalization in Arizona was the result of a nervous breakdown.

Social workers interviewed representatives of the minors' school. The school's office manager noted that, several days before, the minors arrived at school late and D.J. told his teacher he had not eaten breakfast and was hungry. The school's principal stated that, on September 9, 2009, staff saw appellant placing handwritten fliers on the windshields of cars owned by school staff members which read, "No terrorist torture." When the principal confronted appellant about the incident, she became upset and raised her voice. The following day, appellant pulled the minors out of school and attempted to enroll them somewhere else. However, she was unable to do so and returned 15 days later to reenroll them.

Appellant told social workers there was "plenty of food in the cupboards" even if there was not a lot in the refrigerator. She denied having spoiled chocolate milk in the refrigerator or bugs in the house, and claimed she had recently had the house sprayed for spiders. She said she was unable to clean the dishes stacked up in the kitchen due to pain.

Appellant said she was not abusing alcohol or drugs, and initially said she had no history of substance abuse. When asked if she had ever used drugs or alcohol, she stated she had tried marijuana years ago and only drinks liquor on occasion. She denied any criminal history. Appellant later stated she had previously completed a drug program, and said one of the minors' half siblings, A.M., had been removed from her care and placed by Solano County Child Protective Services with the paternal grandmother (who was thereafter awarded legal guardianship) because that child was born with cocaine in her system. When asked why she had not disclosed her past cocaine use, appellant claimed she had and accused the social worker of "twisting her words."

Appellant reported having been diagnosed seven years ago with depression, but said that after being prescribed medication and participating in therapy, she is no longer depressed and no longer taking psychotropic medication. When asked why she failed to disclose her psychiatric hospitalization in May of 2009, appellant said she did not think she needed to discuss it because she did not feel she had psychiatric problems. She noted that the prior hospitalization was a mistake arising from her neighbor having reported that she was psychotic.

With regard to the incident at the minors' school, appellant explained that she was attempting to "protest terrorism" and felt it was important "to protest the war." She said she removed the minors from the school because she did not appreciate the way the principal confronted her about the fliers. When asked about the minors' tardiness, appellant stated she and the minors woke up late and she was unable to cook them breakfast.

On October 1, 2009, the Sacramento County Department of Health and Human Services (Department) filed juvenile dependency petitions on behalf of both minors alleging failure to protect as a result of appellant's inability to provide regular care, mental illness, developmental disability, or substance abuse. (§ 300, subd. (b).) The petitions alleged appellant has "mental health/psychiatric issues that impair her judgment and ability to provide adequate care and supervision for [the minors] . . ." based on the May 2009 psychiatric hospitalization in Arizona, the subsequent incident at the minors' school, and the condition of appellant's home and lack of food for the minors. The petitions alleged further that appellant's "untreated mental health issues place the [minors] at substantial risk of physical harm and/or abuse and neglect."

On October 2, 2009, the court ordered the minors be detained in out-of-home placement, and that appellant be provided visitation and reunification services.

According to the October 22, 2009, jurisdiction/disposition report, the social worker reinterviewed appellant on October 7, 2009, to discuss the allegations in the petitions. With regard to the September 9, 2009, incident at the minors' school, appellant admitted placing fliers on staff cars, but denied knowing it was illegal. She explained that the principal yelled at her and made her angry, causing her to take the minors out of school. She denied otherwise keeping the minors out of school.

Appellant denied having a carton of rotten milk in the refrigerator and dirty dishes everywhere and denied that the minors were only fed chocolate milk and paper, noting that they like chewing on "butter popcorn bag paper" even though this is a "no-no" in the house. She also denied that the minors only ate at school, explaining that she gave them a choice in the morning to either eat at home or eat at school and most of the time the minors preferred eating at school.

Appellant stated she only drinks wine and beer on occasion, and said she was unable to fold the piles of clothes because she was sick all day on September 29, 2009. She denied that there were bugs in the house and said she took pictures of the house and the refrigerator to bring with her to court. She denied the minors' claims that they slept in suitcases in the closet, stating that they played in suitcases in Arizona, but not in Sacramento. With regard to the scar on J.L.'s back, appellant ...


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