(Super. Ct. Nos. J05298 & J05333)
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Duarte , 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 This opinion has not been certified for publication or ordered published for purposes of rule 8.1115.
San Joaquin County Human Services Agency (the Agency) appeals from the juvenile court's order granting reunification services to incarcerated mother. The Agency contends the order is an abuse of discretion because mother was not scheduled to be released from prison until after 18 months from the time her children entered protective custody, which is the limitation period for reunification services, and no facts were present to legally justify extending services beyond that limit.
We requested and received supplemental briefing from both parties, asking whether subsequent events had mooted or affected the issues raised on appeal. The parties disagreed as to the correct answer to our question, but made no requests for judicial notice to support their competing factual contentions.
In the absence of any additional evidence, we reach the merits as originally briefed. We shall reverse.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
On November 4, 2009, the Agency filed a petition under Welfare and Institutions Code section 300*fn1 as to sisters L.L. (born in November 1998) and D.L. (born in November 2000), alleging that mother had pled guilty on October 27, 2009, to assault on a person with a firearm (Pen. Code, § 245, subd. (a)(2)) and further had a criminal history that included drug offenses. The juvenile court ordered the minors detained on November 5, 2009--they had been in protective custody since November 2, 2009.
On December 11, 2009, the Agency filed a section 300 petition as to T.W. (born in December 2004), the half sister of L.L. and D.L., alleging that her father, who had obtained physical custody of her after mother's arrest, had physically abused her.
According to the disposition reports, while mother was at home with the older minors present, she shot a pregnant woman in the stomach. She was sentenced to four years in state prison (the maximum term for her offense). The minors were living with their maternal great-aunt, who was meeting their needs and was committed to caring for them long term if necessary.
The reports recommended denying reunification services to mother under section 361.5, subdivision (e)(1) (section 361.5(e)(1)) because of the nature of her crime, the presence of the minors when she committed it, the length of her prison term, and the fact that her earliest possible release date (August 2011) would be beyond the 18-month limit for reunification services.*fn2
At a contested disposition hearing which began on July 22, 2010, and continued on September 10, 2010, mother testified regarding the facts and circumstances surrounding her offense and minimized her conduct. She claimed that she entered her guilty plea "at the last minute," even though she believed she was innocent. She entered ...