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In Re T. D., A Person Coming Under the Juvenile Court Law. v. Thomas D. Iii

August 20, 2012

IN RE T. D., A PERSON COMING UNDER THE JUVENILE COURT LAW. SHASTA COUNTY HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES AGENCY, PLAINTIFF AND RESPONDENT,
v.
THOMAS D. III, DEFENDANT AND APPELLANT.



(Super. Ct. No. 10JVSQ2856501)

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

In re T.D. CA3

NOT TO BE PUBLISHED

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 This opinion has not been certified for publication or ordered published for purposes of rule 8.1115.

Presumed father Thomas D. III appeals the juvenile court's order terminating his parental rights. (Welf. & Inst. Code, §§ 366.26, 395.)*fn1 He contends the order must be reversed because of noncompliance with the Indian Child Welfare Act. (ICWA; 25 U.S.C. § 1901 et seq.) We find any error harmless and affirm.

FACTUAL BACKGROUND AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

In August 2010 the Shasta County Health and Human Services Agency (Agency) detained the then eight-year-old minor, who had been living with his paternal grandmother in a trailer filled with drugs and drug users. The Agency filed a petition alleging the minor was at substantial risk of physical harm because of his parents' history of domestic violence and substance abuse. In addition, mother had not maintained contact with the minor since he was two years old and father had been incarcerated for most of the minor's life. (§ 300, subd. (b).)

Father responded to the "Parental Notification of Indian Status," stating he was unaware of having any Indian ancestry. The paternal uncle, father's full sibling, indicated he had Cherokee Indian ancestry. The CLETS/NCIC report lists four aliases for father: Thomas D., Thomas Edgar D. III, Thomas Edgar D., and Thomas Edgar D., Sr. The declaration of paternity lists father's name as Thomas Edgar D. III, and this is the name father used to sign documents.

After the initial detention, mother was located in San Diego County. She reported she had not seen the minor since he was two years old. She responded to the Parental Notification of Indian Status, stating she was unaware of having any Indian ancestry. After returning this form, mother had no further contact with social workers and could not be located, despite the social workers' repeated efforts.

At the disposition hearing, the juvenile court found the minor a dependent of the court and that he would be at substantial risk of danger if returned to his parents' custody. Reunification services were bypassed as to both parents, and neither was given visitation. Father remained in custody, with an expected release date of 2014. The minor was doing well in his foster home, where he had been living since being placed in custody, and the foster parents wanted to adopt him.

ICWA notices were sent to the Cherokee tribes and the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA). The notices listed mother's name, address, and date and place of birth. They did not list any of mother's biological relative information, and she claimed no tribal affiliation. The notices listed father's name as Thomas Edgar D. III and Thomas D. Sr., his address, his date and place of birth, his claimed tribal affiliation, and the known information of his parents and grandparents. There is no response in the record from the BIA, although an addendum report filed January 10, 2012, claims the Agency did receive a response. Each of the Cherokee tribes indicated there was no evidence of tribal membership and declined to intervene.

At the permanency planning hearing, the court found ICWA did not apply. The court also found the minor was adoptable, selected adoption as the permanent plan, and terminated parental rights.

DISCUSSION¶

Father contends the juvenile court erred by failing to ensure proper notice was given to the Indian tribes under ICWA. Specifically, he argues the notices were deficient because they failed to contain all known information about names that father used or was known by and did not contain information about mother's ancestry. He contends these omissions were prejudicial because if the minor "is an Indian Child, the outcome of this case would have been ...


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