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In Re N. B., A Person Coming Under the Juvenile Court Law. v. D. E

December 19, 2011


(Super. Ct. No. JD229364)

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

In re N.B. CA3


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 This opinion has not been certified for publication or ordered published for purposes of rule 8.1115.

D.E., the mother of 11-year-old N.B., appeals from an order of the Sacramento County Juvenile Court terminating dependency jurisdiction, awarding custody of N.B to her father in Alabama, and granting mother visitation.

On appeal, mother contends (1) there was insufficient evidence that returning N.B. to her care would create a substantial risk of detriment to N.B.'s safety and well-being, (2) the juvenile court abused its discretion when it failed to return N.B. to her custody and order family maintenance services, (3) in the alternative, mother was entitled to six more months of reunification services because the Sacramento County Department of Health and Human Services (Department) failed to provide reasonable services, (4) the requirement that mother pay for counseling services violated her constitutional rights, (5) there was insufficient evidence that it was safe to place N.B. with her father, (6) the juvenile court abused its discretion when it terminated its dependency jurisdiction, and (7) the court effectively denied mother visitation with N.B. when it ordered that the visits occur in Alabama and that she pay the cost of supervised visits. We shall affirm the order.


Originating Circumstances

In September 2008, N.B. and her cousin E.E. reported that mother's then-boyfriend, L.J., had physically abused them. The Department substantiated the children's claim and advised mother that L.J. could not reside in her home or have contact with the children until he completed anger management classes. Mother agreed to have L.J. leave the residence.

In February 2009, N.B. told a social worker that L.J. often visited mother at their home. E.E. told the worker that L.J. lived in the home and shared a bedroom with mother.

In March 2009, mother refused a social worker's requests to enter mother's home and to have access to N.B.'s four-year-old half sibling, T.E. Mother later denied knowledge of the September 2008 investigation and denied remembering that L.J. was not supposed to be in her house. Two days later, mother stated she needed additional time to consider whether to accept voluntary family maintenance services. Two days after that, the maternal aunt (the mother of E.E.) reported to police that L.J. was in the family home. That same day, L.J. reported to law enforcement that the maternal uncle had assaulted mother. Police officers cited the uncle and mother for battery. Four days later, the uncle told a social worker that L.J. had never left mother's home.


On March 11, 2009, the Department filed a petition alleging that N.B. came within juvenile court jurisdiction in that mother failed to protect her from physical abuse by L.J.*fn1 (Welf. & Inst. Code,*fn2 § 300, subd. (b).) The petition alleged that the address of N.B.'s father, A.B., was unknown. The court detained N.B. and ordered that she have no contact with L.J.

Jurisdiction and Disposition

In a March 2009 interview for the jurisdiction and disposition report, four-year-old T.E. reported that mother and L.J. had physically abused her with a belt. She also reported that L.J. sometimes had hit mother and once had caused her forehead to bleed.

In a March 2009 interview, mother denied that she or L.J. had physically abused the children. She also denied any domestic violence between herself and L.J.

In March 2009, mother was given referrals to a parenting class, Women Escaping a Violent Environment (WEAVE) services, individual counseling, and drug testing. In April 2009, the social worker orally reiterated these referrals; in response, mother "just rolled her eyes" at the social worker. In April and May 2009, the social worker left messages for mother regarding her participation in services; she did not respond to either message. In May 2009, the social worker determined that mother had not begun drug testing and had not enrolled in a parenting class.

In a March 2009 interview, the maternal great-aunt, L.A., told the social worker that mother had left N.B. and E.E. in her care from September 2008 through February 2009, due to problems at mother's home. L.A. knew the children were not allowed to be around L.J. However, on three occasions prior to February 22, 2009, mother and L.J. attempted to return the children to their care by removing them from school or by abducting them as they walked home. On February 22, 2009, mother and L.J. succeeded in seizing the children as they walked. L.A. subsequently advised the Department that the children were back in mother's care and that she (L.A.) was concerned for their well-being because she had observed bruises on E.E. and because both children had advised her that L.J. had hit them with a belt.

L.A. advised the Department that mother and L.J. used ecstasy and marijuana. The maternal aunt, D.E., confirmed that mother and L.J. smoked marijuana on a daily basis. Mother admitted that she had tried marijuana once at age 16 but she denied any subsequent use of unlawful substances.

In March 2009, the social worker interviewed M.B., the father of mother's child, G.E. He reported that he and the mother had battled over child custody for three years. During that time, mother had abducted G.E. from Sacramento and had taken her to Contra Costa County. With assistance from the district attorney's office, M.B. located G.E. and obtained full custody of her. Since that time, mother has not attempted to contact G.E.

Amended Petition

In May 2009, an amended petition was filed alleging, in paragraphs (a)(1) and (b)(2), that N.B. was at risk of serious physical harm in that mother had physically abused T.E. (§ 300, subds. (a), (b).) The petition also alleged, in paragraph (b)(3), that mother and L.J. had a history of engaging in domestic violence in front of T.E.

In July 2009, the juvenile court sustained the amended petition, adjudged N.B. a dependent child, removed her from mother's custody, granted mother regular visitation, denied the father visitation until he came forward, and ordered reunification services for mother.

Department's Request for Services for Father

In September 2009, the Department filed a Request to Change Court Order (JV-180) seeking court-ordered services and visitation for father who had requested visitation and consideration for placement of N.B. in Alabama. Father told the social worker that mother knew of his whereabouts, in that she had removed N.B. from school in Alabama without his knowledge and had brought her to California in December 2007. He had been paying child support for four years and was adjudicated the father of N.B. in March 2009. In October 2009 the court granted the request for services and ordered the preparation of a request that Alabama authorities evaluate father for placement pursuant to the Interstate Compact for the Placement of Children (ICPC).

Six-month Pre-Permanency Review

In a January 2010 pre-permanency review report, the social worker noted that mother had attended five group counseling sessions and, upon the therapist's recommendation, had been referred for individual counseling.

Mother's therapist advised the social worker that mother had "never participated with honesty" and had "presented information [that] was misleading." The therapist opined that mother "engages in a pattern of errors of omission," and if "a question or comment gives her [an] opportunity to leave out information, she will." The therapist reported that mother "would contradict herself repeatedly." Thus, after denying that she currently used "spankings" to discipline the children, mother conceded that they sometimes "need a 'pop' on their butt[s] to get their attention." After claiming that she had "learned a lot" during domestic violence classes, mother could not give examples of what she had learned or state how domestic violence affected her children. Although mother did not "want to depend on a man," she allowed L.J. to return to her home following the removal of the children because she "was devastated and needed support." The therapist noted that mother "displays behaviors of lying, manipulation, and contradiction," "is evasive and avoidant during individual sessions," "maintains a constant affect no matter [what] subject . . . is being discussed," and "responds with restricted emotion." The therapist recommended that mother undergo a psychological evaluation.

The children reported that mother was continuing her relationship with L.J.; moreover, the social worker had seen him transporting her to visits with the children. Thus, mother was not authorized to have unsupervised overnight and weekend visits with N.B.

At the pre-permanency review hearing, the juvenile court continued mother's services for six months and scheduled a permanency hearing. Progress reports were ...

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