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

July 13, 2012


(Super. Ct. Nos. JD231381, JD231382, JD231383)

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

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 This opinion has not been certified for publication or ordered published for purposes of rule 8.1115.

L.D., the mother of T.D. (age nine), D.W. (age six) and K.J. (age two), appeals from dispositional orders of the Sacramento County Juvenile Court bypassing her reunification services, setting a selection and implementation hearing for T.D., and placing D.W. and K.J. with their respective fathers. (Welf. & Inst. Code, §§ 361.5, subd. (b)(6) (hereafter section 361.5(b)), 366.26.)*fn1

On appeal, mother contends the bypass of reunification services was error because (1) she did not inflict the requisite "severe" physical abuse, and (2) she was capable of benefiting from reunification services. Neither claim has merit.


Originating Circumstances

On March 4, 2011, a mandated reporter sent the Sacramento County Department of Health and Human Services (the Department) a referral for physical abuse. A Sacramento police officer placed the three children in protective custody. T.D. told the officer that on March 3, 2011, mother had kicked her in the side and had hit her several times with a belt causing visible injuries. T.D. had bruising on the right side of her face near her temple, her upper and lower left arm, her right thigh, her left hip, and under her right eye. T.D. told the emergency response social worker that, besides inflicting these injuries, mother also had disciplined D.W. with a belt.


On March 8, 2011, petitions were filed alleging that each child came within juvenile court jurisdiction under section 300, subdivision (a) (hereafter section 300(a)), in that T.D. sustained serious physical injury inflicted by mother, who also batters D.W. with a belt. In addition, K.J. had been observed to have bruising along his spine and back. The abuse places the children at substantial risk of further serious physical injuries inflicted nonaccidentally by mother.


At an initial hearing on March 9, 2011, K.J. was released to the care of his presumed father. The hearing for T.D. and D.W. was continued. On March 11, 2011, T.D. and D.W. were detained in foster care.

Jurisdiction and Disposition

On March 10, 2011, the social worker interviewed mother for the jurisdiction/disposition report. Mother appeared to be angry during the interview. She questioned why D.W. and K.J. were removed from her care and stated, "'You'all can keep [T.D.]'" Mother denied physically abusing K.J. and said the marks on K.J.'s back had been there since birth. She denied hitting her children and reported that T.D.'s injuries were self-inflicted.

The next week, the social worker again interviewed mother who appeared to be polite and respectful. During the interview, mother described the events of the day in question. She explained that she stores candy on the top of her closet and parcels out candy to the children in moderation. Around March 2, 2011, following a dinner with friends, T.D. went upstairs to the bathroom and closed the door. The family practice is to leave the bathroom door open even if a person is using the toilet. Mother opened the door and found T.D. on the toilet. When mother told T.D. to get off of the toilet, T.D. tried to flush the toilet. Mother grabbed T.D. by her upper right arm and yanked her off of the toilet. Mother then saw candy in the toilet bowl. She told T.D. to leave the bathroom.

Mother told the social worker, "'I got so mad I said, "You're going [to] have to go. You're going have [sic] to move in with my mother or something. I can't do this."'" Mother then struck T.D. on her left shoulder and she fell down. Mother claimed that, in choosing to fall down, T.D. was being overly dramatic because she had not been struck hard enough to be knocked down. Mother denied that she had caused any of T.D.'s bruises. The next morning, mother groomed T.D.'s hair for school and T.D. had no bruises. ...

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