(Super. Ct. No. JD230014)
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Butz , J.
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 This opinion has not been certified for publication or ordered published for purposes of rule 8.1115.
S.B., mother, and D.D., father, of the infant minor T.B., appeal from the judgment of disposition. (Welf. & Inst. Code, §§ 360, 395.)*fn1 Appellants contend there is insufficient evidence to support jurisdiction because the finding was based solely on hearsay. D.D. raises several other arguments relating to appointment of counsel, evidentiary matters and procedural problems. S.B. argues the case plan was unreasonable as to her and joins D.D.'s various arguments. We shall affirm.
The Sacramento County Department of Health and Human Services (the Department) secured a warrant in July 2009 to detain the minor based upon a request from a social worker in Washington who was assigned to the half siblings' case in that state. The half siblings were detained from S.B. due to neglect and physical abuse by both S.B. and D.D. as alleged in petitions filed in Washington in April 2009.
Both appellants appeared at the initial hearing on August 5, 2009, and counsel was appointed. D.D. brought a Marsden motion,*fn2 which was resolved by a recess to permit further discussion between D.D. and his counsel. The initial hearing resumed the next day and again both appellants were present in court. The court ordered the minor detained and further ordered the Department to offer services to S.B. and D.D. D.D.'s request to be allowed to bring his service dog into court was denied pending documentation.
The jurisdiction/disposition report filed August 26, 2009, stated neither S.B. nor D.D., although given the necessary contact information, had actually contacted the social worker to provide background information or to respond to the allegations of the petition. The social worker made repeated attempts to contact both S.B. and D.D. Prior to removal of the minor, the Department offered services to appellants but they refused them.
The report stated the half siblings remained in foster care in Washington state pending trial on jurisdiction. The California social worker interviewed the Washington social worker who recounted interviews with the half siblings who reported physical abuse by D.D. and their expressed belief that D.D. was trying to kill them. The Washington social worker described the contents of the Washington petition, which included allegations that D.D. went to the half siblings' school yelling and intimidating staff, and that the half siblings reported domestic violence between D.D. and S.B. The Washington social workers also stated that there were multiple referrals for physical abuse and neglect of the half siblings, that S.B. and D.D. were referred to voluntary services and S.B. agreed to services but left the area and ultimately left the state with D.D.
The emergency response social worker contacted the hospital (UC Davis Medical Center) where S.B. went into labor. The staff reported D.D. was controlling and would not allow S.B. to speak for herself or without him present and was suspected to be mentally ill. The parents left the hospital against medical advice.
The report recommended services be offered to S.B. and D.D. The services recommended for the case plan, as summarized in the report, included parenting classes, mental health counseling, anger management and domestic violence counseling, and a medication evaluation for D.D. who previously was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. An addendum, filed August 28, 2009, provided the court with proposed findings and orders and uncertified copies of the petitions and the detention order for the half siblings filed in the Washington case.
At the next hearing, in September 2009, S.B. was present but D.D. began a pattern, which would characterize the ongoing proceedings, of appearing at the courthouse but refusing to enter the courtroom without his dog, insisting on accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq.; see Cal. Rules of Court, rule 1.100)*fn3 while declining to properly complete the necessary paperwork. At this hearing, D.D. requested another Marsden hearing but refused to enter the courtroom without his dog and the court declined to relieve counsel in his absence.
Counsel for D.D. filed a motion to be relieved as counsel, citing a breakdown in communication with his client. Counsel provided a detailed account of the contact he had with D.D. to demonstrate the breakdown.
D.D. filed a response to his counsel's motion to be relieved as well as a document entitled "Letter and Motion [re] Inadequate Counsel." In a supporting declaration, D.D. expressed a desire to be represented by counsel.
The contested jurisdictional hearing and counsel's motion to be relieved were continued. The Department had not yet interviewed S.B. or D.D. because they insisted on recording any interview, which was against Department policy.
Counsel for D.D. filed a pretrial statement that challenged the sufficiency of the evidence to support jurisdiction. The pretrial statement also contained specific objections to the hearsay statements in the social worker's report by the Washington social workers and the Department's investigating social worker insofar as their statements related to evidence of physical abuse or violent behavior on the part of D.D. Counsel for S.B. also filed a pretrial statement but did not make any specific hearsay objections.
The Department filed a second addendum in November 2009 stating that S.B. and D.D. had not yet given the Department interviews and had not visited the minor. The addendum reported that the Washington petitions for the half siblings were sustained on the grounds of physical abuse and neglect and services were ordered for both parents. Uncertified copies of the jurisdictional findings and orders and the judgment of disposition from Washington were attached to the addendum.
At the hearing on counsel's motion to be relieved, D.D. again refused to enter the courtroom without his dog. The court explored the facts of counsel's interaction with D.D. and granted the motion to be relieved. The court did not appoint new counsel but ordered that D.D. would proceed in propria persona. In January 2010, prior to the continued contested jurisdictional hearing, D.D. filed a request for counsel.
On February 18, 2010, the date of the contested jurisdictional hearing, neither parent was present.*fn4 The court denied a further continuance. Counsel for S.B. objected to portions of the allegations of the petition as unsupported by evidence but did not raise hearsay objections. The court sustained the petition as modified, dismissing the allegations of neglect but retaining the allegations of risk of physical abuse. At the end of the hearing, the court reappointed counsel for D.D.
A third addendum was filed, but not considered, at the February 18 jurisdictional hearing. It stated that D.D. was recently arrested for an act of domestic violence perpetrated on S.B. and that there were reports D.D. was threatening staff at visits. A fourth addendum in March 2010 provided details of a recent visit in which D.D. became upset because his dog was excluded from the visit and the dog reacted to D.D.'s emotional state by growling. There was also information from the Washington social worker that D.D. is excluded from visits in Washington due to his past behavior in visits and that the half siblings fear him. The addendum recommended adding a psychological evaluation to D.D.'s case plan.
The contested dispositional hearing commenced in late March 2010. S.B. was present; D.D. was at the courthouse but refused to enter the courtroom without his dog. The Department did not provide a formal case plan prior to the hearing. Counsel for the Department reviewed the elements as described in the first report, which were to be included in the plan for both S.B. and D.D., and stated that S.B. would be in compliance with the California case plan requirements if she completed services in Washington for their equivalent case plan requirements; thus, she would not have to do any program twice. S.B. and D.D. objected to the proposed findings and orders. As to S.B., the court clarified that its intent was to rule on disposition and set a further hearing to specify the parameters of S.B.'s case plan. The court found a substantial danger to the minor if returned to appellants' custody based on evidence of abuse of the half siblings, D.D.'s behavior when interacting with service providers and recent information on domestic violence. The court found reasonable efforts were made to prevent removal and adopted the recommended findings and orders as modified.
Additional facts appear where necessary in the ...