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In re Aiden G.

California Court of Appeals, Second District, First Division

October 16, 2013

In re AIDEN G. et al., Persons Coming Under the Juvenile Court Law. LOS ANGELES COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF CHILDREN AND FAMILY SERVICES, Plaintiff and Respondent,
v.
CAROLINE G., Defendant and Appellant.

APPEAL from orders and a judgment of the Superior Court of Los Angeles County. Ct. No. CK96730 Marilyn Kading Martinez, Commissioner.

Donna B. Kaiser, under appointment by the Court of Appeal, for Defendant and Appellant.

John F. Krattli, County Counsel, James M. Owens, Assistant County Counsel, and Jeanette Cauble, Senior Deputy County Counsel, for Plaintiff and Respondent.

MALLANO, P. J.

Caroline G. (Mother) appeals from the February 14, 2013 jurisdictional and dispositional orders of the juvenile court adjudging minors Aiden G., born in December 2008, and Elizabeth G., born in May 2010, dependents of the court pursuant to Welfare and Institutions Code section 300, subdivision (b) (failure to protect).[1] Scott G. (Father) is not a party to this appeal. The issue presented is whether the juvenile court should have sustained a petition alleging only that Mother is mentally ill and is unable to care for the minors where Father has always been, and is, capable of properly caring for them. While Mother’s mental health is such that the minors would be at substantial risk if they were in Mother’s custody, the custody order filed in the family court by the juvenile court after making the challenged adjudication and disposition orders eliminated such risk. Because the matter belonged in the family court, there was no reason for the juvenile court’s adjudication and dispositional orders. We reverse and remand with directions to the family court.

BACKGROUND

On August 28, 2012, law enforcement was called to the family home because Mother was yelling at the neighbors, claiming she was going to be the next female president. Mother was experiencing auditory hallucinations that were telling her to sing, run through the sprinklers, and lie down in the middle of the street. The minors “were in the family home at the time of the incident... and witnessed the event.” The officers contacted the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) and took Mother to the hospital because they determined she was a danger to herself or others. Mother remained hospitalized for two weeks. Mother later claimed the hospitalization was a “‘mistake’” because she did not do anything wrong. She was again hospitalized in September for two weeks when she claimed to have supernatural powers, danced around, acted bizarrely, and claimed she was Jesus.

Mother subsequently failed to keep her psychiatric appointments and did not take her psychotropic medication, denying she had a mental illness and claiming her only problem was insomnia. “[O]n at least one occasion, ” Mother told the nanny to go home, and the minors were alone with Mother for about three hours until Father returned home from work.

On November 30, 2012, DCFS reported the following. Mother stated she “‘had a special gift from God and she was able to hear other people’s conversations’” and sometimes the people she spoke to said bad things about her. Mother said she recently started taking her medication because she had a conversation with President Obama, who had convinced her to take them. Mother had one “suicidal episode” where auditory hallucinations ordered her to take pills and kill herself, but Mother stated “she had the pills but did not ingest them.” In the presence of the minors, Mother had attempted to stuff a piece of paper down Father’s throat, saying he was a “‘monster.’” Father failed to take action for fear of escalating the situation; he was afraid to confront Mother about her delusions and hallucinations, and feared for the safety of the minors if they were left alone with her. Father and Mother were initiating divorce proceedings, which “raises the level of stress for both parents.” Father was the minors’ primary caregiver in the mornings while Mother slept. When the nanny took care of the minors, Mother stayed in her bedroom to write in her journal. “Therefore, [M]other has not been able to develop a loving maternal bond with” the minors, and Mother refused family preservation services.

On November 30, 2012, DCFS filed a section 300 petition on behalf of Aiden and Elizabeth, alleging under section 300, subdivision (b) that Mother had mental and emotional problems, including delusional behavior, auditory hallucinations, suicidal ideation, and a suicide attempt, which render Mother incapable of providing regular care of the minors; in August 2012, Mother was involuntarily hospitalized for evaluation and treatment; in September 2012, Mother was hospitalized for evaluation and treatment; and Mother failed to take her psychotropic medication.

On November 30, 2012, the juvenile court ordered the minors to remain released to Mother and Father under the following conditions: Mother to take her psychotropic medication as prescribed; Mother to continue with therapy treatment; Mother not to be left alone with the minors; and Father to participate in individual counseling and family preservation services.

In December 2012, Mother reported to DCFS that she had special powers; she could channel the dead, who made her laugh; and she had spoken to President Lincoln, the Kennedys, Marilyn Monroe, and Michael Jackson. Mother read from her journal that “she is the second coming and she must inform everyone.” She denied having ever heard a voice telling her to hurt herself or anyone else, and stated she would never harm her children. On December 27, 2012, Mother’s psychiatrist reported that after discontinuing her medication, Mother “recently became very psychotic with poor insight and judgment.”

On January 3, 2013, Mother told DCFS that “8 years ago” she had been diagnosed with “persecutory delusion” when she heard people shouting at her at work, saying “suspicious things, ” calling her on the telephone and hanging up on her. She stated that she had been seeing a psychiatrist for six years and had been taking medication for schizophrenia, but she had been misdiagnosed. She claimed her only problem was insomnia, and she did not want the doctors to continue to misdiagnose her. She denied she had suffered from suicidal ideation when she had lain down in the street. She claimed she was having a “‘spiritual experience, ’” not a “‘psychological experience, ’” and that she had looked both ways before she lay down. Mother had no idea how long she remained on the street. When asked what kind of spiritual experience she was having, “Mother refused to go into detail, ” saying it was hard to explain. Mother also reported she was complying with her medication and psychotherapy because she did not want to lose the minors. Although she claimed that she did not hear voices anymore, she also stated that “her God given talent [is] that she can hear people speak” and she has “angelic and spiritual ability.” Mother was divorcing Father because he did not have the same spiritual beliefs. Mother said she was talking to “the people that talk[] to her” about her current situation and they had been giving her advice. DCFS reported that oftentimes Mother “is into her own world and during these times she totally detaches herself from her surroundings, even from her children.”

On January 3, 2013, Father told DCFS that “7 years ago, ” Mother started having paranoid thoughts at work. Subsequently, Mother was under the care of a psychiatrist and did well for four or five years. Then she stopped taking her medication. Father convinced her to go back on medication, but it took some time for the medication to work because Mother had been off her medication for so long. From that time, Mother has been “experiencing conversations and it never stopped.” Mother was not violent toward the minors or suicidal. Rather, she felt euphoria and invincibility. She believed she was “‘the chosen, she feels the presence and experience[s] things and hears conversations.’” Mother also claimed to be the president when she had lain down in the street and jumped through ...


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