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In re X.Z.

California Court of Appeals, Second District, Fourth Division

November 14, 2013

In re X.Z., A Person Coming Under the Juvenile Court Law. LOS ANGELES COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF CHILDREN AND FAMILY SERVICES, Plaintiff and Respondent,
v.
JASMIN S., Defendant and Appellant.

Modified and certified for partial publication 12/4/13 (order attached)

APPEAL from an order of the Superior Court of Los Angeles County No. CK86090, Marguerite Downing, Judge. Diane Reyes, Temporary Judge. (Pursuant to Cal. Const., art. VI, § 21.).

Lori A. Fields, under appointment by the Court of Appeal, for Defendant and Appellant.

John F. Krattli, Office of the County Counsel, James M. Owens, Assistant County Counsel and William D. Thetford, Deputy County Counsel, for Plaintiff and Respondent.

MANELLA, J.

Appellant Jasmin S. (Mother) filed this appeal after the juvenile court’s December 4, 2012 order terminated her parental rights over her infant daughter X.Z. under Welfare and Institutions Code section 366.26.[1] Mother seeks to revive issues arising out of the court’s decision to terminate her reunification services at the September 12, 2011 six-month review hearing based on its understanding that Mother would be incarcerated for a period that exceeded the maximum reunification time permitted by statute. She contends reasonable reunification services were not provided prior to September 2011, that the caseworker misled the court about when she was likely to be released from prison, and that the court failed to make statutorily-mandated findings.

Mother does not dispute that orders terminating reunification services are ordinarily reviewable solely by way of writ, or that the court provided notice at the September 2011 hearing of the writ review requirement. She contends she is entitled to raise issues related to the reunification period in this proceeding because the notice the court provided did not inform her of the deadline to file a notice of intent to seek a writ. We conclude that Mother received sufficient notice of the writ requirement to preclude her from raising issues pertaining to the September 2011 order at this late date, and that, in any event, she raises no issues with respect to the September 2011 order requiring reversal. Accordingly, we affirm.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

In January 2011, the family home was raided by police and a large quantity of methamphetamine and chemicals for the manufacture of methamphetamine were found.[2] X.Z., then two months old, was detained by the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), along with her two half-siblings.[3] After a brief period in foster care, X.Z. was placed with Mother’s sister, Conseulo M. A few days after the detention hearing, Mother was arrested and charged with possession of methamphetamine and child endangerment.

On February 16, 2011, the caseworker reported that Mother’s case was about to be submitted to the district attorney’s office for felony filing consideration. The court ordered a supplemental report to address the status of both parents’ criminal cases before the jurisdictional/dispositional hearing, but the caseworker was unable to obtain further information.

At the March 14, 2011, jurisdictional/dispositional hearing, the court found that Mother and Father “created a detrimental and endangering home environment for the children” by (1) “possess[ing] toxic, flammable, hazardous chemicals, used in the manufacture of methamphetamine in the children’s home, within access of the children” and exposing the children to such chemicals; (2) keeping eight and one-half pounds of methamphetamine in the children’s home, within access of the children; and (3) exposing the children to illicit drug trafficking in the home and in their presence. At the same hearing, the court addressed disposition for Mother and ordered reunification services. Mother’s plan required her to participate in a parenting class and individual counseling to address case issues and drug awareness.

On April 20, 2011, a new caseworker met with Mother, then incarcerated at Twin Towers. Mother advised her that the facility did not offer any programs for parents, and that she would be unable to make progress on the reunification plan until she was transferred to a state prison. Mother further reported that she anticipated receiving a four-year sentence and serving half or less. On June 8, the caseworker talked to Mother’s probation officer, who reported he was working on the probation report and that Mother was likely to face a sentence of three to six years.[4] A few days later, on June 17, Consuelo told the caseworker she had spoken with Mother and that Mother had said she was going to serve 14 months in state prison and would enroll in classes once she arrived at the prison.[5] In mid-July, Mother was transferred to the California Institute for Women. In August, the caseworker left a message with Mother’s correctional counselor asking for Mother’s release date, but received no return call.

The September 2011 report, filed in advance of the six-month review hearing, stated that in June, Mother had been convicted of possession of a controlled substance for sale and child endangerment and that the court had imposed sentences of three years for the former crime and four years for the latter. The report did not indicate whether the sentences were to run consecutively or concurrently and gave no estimate of Mother’s release date. It described the caseworker’s unsuccessful effort to obtain Mother’s precise release date from the correctional counselor. The report stated that maternal relatives were bringing X.Z. for prison visits, but that due to her incarceration, Mother had been unable to participate in court-ordered programs. The report said it was “highly unlikely” Mother would be able to reunify with her children, even if additional reunification services were ordered. Therefore, it was recommended that reunification services be terminated.

At the September 12, 2011 six-month review hearing, the court stated it was inclined to terminate reunification services with respect to X.Z. due to her age (less than a year old).[6] Counsel for Mother stated: “I understand Mother will be incarcerated longer than the statutory period of reunification; however, I’m going to enter an objection today to terminating her services.” The court expressed its understanding that both parents objected, but found that “since both parents will be incarcerated longer than the reunification period... [¶]... there is not a substantial probability that [X.Z.] may be returned to her parents by the 12-month permanency hearing.” The court further found that the parents were unable to “complete any of the disposition case plan” due to their incarceration or to “demonstrate[] the capacity or ability to complete the objectives of the treatment plan and to provide for the child’s safety, protection, physical and emotional health.” The court terminated services and set a section 366.26 hearing for January 9, 2012. The minute order stated that the court found by a preponderance of the evidence that return of the ...


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