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In Re D. T. et al., Persons Coming Under the Juvenile Court v. Lisa T

April 16, 2012


(Super. Ct. Nos. JD223888 & JD230728)

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

In re D.T.



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 This opinion has not been certified for publication or ordered published for purposes of rule 8.1115.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, the mother of A.W. and D.T. (the minors), appeals following a dispositional hearing on an initial petition as to A.W. and a supplemental petition as to D.T. (Welf. & Inst. Code, §§ 300, 387, 395; further statutory references are to this code unless otherwise specified.) Appellant contends the juvenile court erred by removing the minors from her care. She also claims it was error to deny her services as to A.W.*fn1 We shall affirm.


In March 2006, juvenile dependency proceedings were initiated by the Sacramento County Department of Health and Human Services (Department) concerning then nine-year-old D.T. and her two siblings based on allegations, as later amended, that appellant continued to have contact with D.T.'s father, L.T., with whom she had a history of domestic violence, in violation of a restraining order. It was further alleged that L.T. was convicted of felony assault in 2005, after attempting to strangle appellant with a belt and holding her and the children "hostage in the bedroom of the home." D.T. reported she had witnessed fighting between her parents on numerous occasions and was present when L.T. choked appellant. Although appellant obtained a restraining order against L.T., it was alleged that she continued to allow him to live in her home and have contact with the children. While the jurisdictional hearing was pending, another incident of domestic violence occurred, in which appellant reported that L.T. punched her in the mouth, loosening her front tooth. She later recanted this report.

The allegations were sustained, and appellant was granted reunification services. However, her participation and progress during the reunification period was inconsistent. Moreover, according to the social worker, she continued to disregard the restraining order against L.T. and went to "great lengths" to hide their relationship from the Department.

In August 2007, appellant's reunification services were terminated and a permanent plan was ordered for D.T. of out-of-home placement with a goal of guardianship.

In February 2008, appellant married S.W., and a year later, she gave birth to A.W. Appellant claimed she and S.W. separated in April 2009.

Meanwhile, D.T. had numerous placement changes as a result of her behavioral problems. Appellant did not visit D.T. for a period following the termination of services, but by January 2009, they were having regular visitation. D.T. consistently stated that she wanted to reunify with appellant, and in July 2009, appellant's reunification services with D.T. were reinstated.

The following month, police officers responded to a domestic violence incident involving appellant and S.W. A witness reported that appellant and her adult daughter, C.T., "were trying to pack their belongings and leave the apartment[,] as [appellant] and [S.W.] were having problems." According to appellant, she had arranged with S.W. to do this while he was away from the residence and had called "the police to request a civil standby in case [S.W.] showed up and caused a problem." S.W. arrived while appellant was still there and tried to take A.W. out of her car seat. When C.T. attempted to intervene, S.W. punched her several times, then punched appellant when she told him to leave C.T. alone. According to the police report, appellant said she did not know why S.W. did this, but she thought he did not want her to leave.

Following the incident, S.W. was convicted of battery on a spouse (Pen. Code, § 243, subd. (e)), and a criminal protective order was entered. There is nothing in the record to indicate that appellant disclosed this incident to the Department or her service providers.

As later reported by appellant, a joint custody order was entered concerning A.W. in October 2009 that allowed S.W. to be in the home from Thursday through Saturday. According to appellant, the criminal protective order was attached to the custody order. Neither the custody order nor the criminal protective order is contained in the record on appeal. The only other evidence of the custody order is a later report by a police officer that appellant showed him a copy of a joint custody order that did not have "any court stamps on it." Again, it does not appear that appellant informed her service providers or the social worker of the purported custody order at the time it occurred.

In the meantime, appellant participated in an array of reunification services, including domestic violence counseling, a parenting class and a domestic violence group. She voluntarily continued in counseling after completing the required sessions, reporting that she wanted to address issues related to the domestic violence she experienced with L.T.

According to the domestic violence counselor's treatment summary in March 2010, appellant had made "excellent progress in her ability to verbalize understanding" of her domestic violence issues. Likewise, the social worker believed appellant had made "significant efforts to change her life and get . . . [D.T.] back." Again, neither the social worker nor the counselor made any mention of S.W. or the domestic violence issues ...

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