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C.F. v. Superior Court (Mendocino County Health and Human Services Agency)

California Court of Appeals, First District, Fourth Division

October 1, 2014

C.F., Petitioner,
v.
THE SUPERIOR COURT OF MENDOCINO COUNTY, Respondent MENDOCINO COUNTY HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES AGENCY, Real Party in Interest.

Mendocino County Super. Ct. Nos. SCUKJVSQ 13-16775, SCUKJVSQ 13-16776, SCUKJVSQ 13-16777 Cindee F. Mayfield

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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COUNSEL

Jeremy Meltzer for Petitioner.

No appearance for Respondent.

Douglas L. Losak, Acting County Counsel, for Real Party in Interest.

John Peter Passalacqua for Minors.

OPINION

RIVERA, J.

C.F. (Mother), the mother of J.L., R.L., and A.L. (collectively Minors or the children) petitions for extraordinary relief under California Rules of Court, rule 8.452, asking us to set aside the juvenile court’s order

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setting a permanent plan hearing pursuant to Welfare and Institutions Code[1] section 366.26. We shall deny the petition on the merits.

I. BACKGROUND

A. Petition and Detention

In May 2013, the Mendocino County Health and Human Services Agency[2] (the Agency) filed a petition pursuant to section 300 on behalf of Minors. As later sustained, the petition alleged failure to protect (§ 300, subd. (b)) in that Mother had a substance abuse problem that inhibited her ability to parent her children and that Mother and the children’s father, E.L. (Father)[3] were not providing their children with adequate food or shelter. Minors were detained. At the time, they were eight, seven, and three years old.

According to the detention report, sheriff’s deputies conducting an ongoing investigation went to a home occupied by two men (neither of whom was Father), and found the two younger children, R.L. and A.L., in their care. The home was found to be in an unsafe condition; the deputies saw glass pipes with residue used for smoking methamphetamine, used syringes, pipes and bongs used for smoking marijuana, bags of marijuana, and a large knife on the floor next to the mattress where the children were sleeping. A used methamphetamine pipe and two used syringes were in a pouch a few feet from the children. The kitchen contained no refrigerator. Dirty dishes and pots piled in the sink appeared to have been there for a few days. Food, some of it spoiled, had been left out on the counters, and trash was littered on the floor. In the bathroom was a large pile of used toilet paper, with urine in a toilet that would not flush. There was no running water, and there were dead mice under the bathtub and small boys’ dirty underwear on the floor. On the outside of the house, an open power panel contained high-voltage conductors, and “jumper” wires that had been installed posed a significant fire danger. The two children said they had been wearing the same clothes since Mother had dropped them off four nights previously.

While the deputies and a social worker were at the house, Mother drove up in a car with her older son, J.L., and said the children were there on only a temporary basis. She appeared to be “extremely high and could not stand

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still.” Her pupils were dilated, her carotid artery was pulsating quickly, and she was making uncontrolled body movements. Her pulse was between 140 and 144 beats per minute. A social worker asked Mother to come speak with her; Mother “struggled at this request and was visibly swaying back and forth where she stood as if she were walking on a ship at sea.” She was sweating profusely and had a hard time focusing on the conversation. She provided a urine sample, saying it would be “dirty.” The sheriff’s deputy reported that he had known Mother for several years and had seen her under the influence of a controlled substance in the past.

The detention report noted that Minors were members of or eligible for membership in an Indian tribe, and that the social worker had spoken with the tribe’s Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 (ICWA; 25 U.S.C. § 1901 et seq.) office and given notice of the detention hearing. The tribe later confirmed that Minors were registered members.

B. Jurisdiction

A report was prepared for the June 2013 jurisdiction hearing. According to the report, immediately after Minors were detained, Mother was referred to the Pinoleville Vocational Rehabilitation program to assist her in getting into Friendship House, a Native American inpatient facility.

The juvenile court found true the allegations pursuant to section 300, subdivision (b), that Mother had a substance abuse problem that inhibited her ability to parent her children and that Mother and Father were not providing Minors with adequate food or shelter.

C. Disposition

1. Disposition Report

The report for the July 10, 2013 disposition hearing noted the following facts. In June 2013, after the children were detained, Mother was arrested for sale and possession of methamphetamine and being under the influence of a controlled substance. She also faced a felony charge for vehicle theft. Mother told a social worker she had started using methamphetamine in 2006 or 2007.

At the time of her arrest, Mother had been working with Pinoleville Vocational Rehabilitation to try to get into Friendship House for treatment. In order to be accepted into the facility, she needed to have a telephone interview and get a physical examination. Because of her arrest, she did not have the telephone interview, and she did not continue working with the program.

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The director of Mother’s tribe’s Community/Family Services Program had told the social worker the tribe would not pay for Mother to go into Friendship House because she was not registered with them for services. The director also indicated Mother would have to apply for funding through a state program such as Medi-Cal—and be turned down by them—before she could apply through her tribe’s health authority, and that Mother would have to resolve her outstanding criminal cases before entering Friendship House.

The social worker had spoken with Mother many times about her need to be in inpatient drug rehabilitation. Mother’s tribe had recommended a psychological or mental health examination, but it was the Agency’s position that Mother should participate in several months of inpatient rehabilitation and then be re-assessed concerning her need for a psychological evaluation.

Mother had received drug services through the Yuki Trails Counseling Center (Yuki Trails) in the past. At the time of the disposition report, Mother was not attending outpatient services at Yuki ...


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